12 Reasons Why Recruiters That You Hire Fail

1. Not enough people to choose from:

Do you have a documented internal recruitment strategy containing the best ways to access top experienced and superstar trainees? Recruiting the best recruiters requires effort and thought. If you’re only choosing from a small number, then you may end up hiring someone who is not quite up to scratch.

Action: Write out a recruitment plan today. Think about all the ways that you can get to top talent and document it.

2. Ineffective on-boarding:

How easy do YOU make it for new joiners within the first couple of weeks in your business? The best people need to be stretched. Get them in early on day one and stretch them with new knowledge and micro targets. Set clear expectations of when they should bill. Inspire them to work harder. Lead the way yourself.

Action: Plan your on-boarding and hold people to account for what they learn. Get new starters to prove to you that they’ve learned whatever it is you were teaching them during induction. Don’t resort to so-called ‘on the job training’.

3. Poor management:

Do you hold weekly one-to-ones with each recruiter that reports to you? If not, how can you hold them accountable for reasonable activity targets?

Action: Improve the way that you hold recruiters to account for whatever it is that you want them to deliver. 15 minute, weekly one-to-ones are worth their weight in gold

4. Weak leadership:

Strong leaders set clear expectations regarding targets, performance metrics and role responsibilities. If these are not clearly communicated, new recruiters can struggle to deliver results.

𝗔𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻: Benchmark realistic activities and then measure them. How many candidate referrals per week should a new recruiter secure in your business? How many client meetings per week should they arrange? How many exclusive vacancies is reasonable from a standing start in month one, month two and month three? 

I’m a big fan of measuring specific activities rather than just financial targets. And then hold the new starters to account for these activities. If your activity measurements are realistic and they don’t achieve them, you should be questioning whether it’s a lack of skill or a lack of will. 

5 Insufficient Training:

How confident are you that the training you deliver is the best it can possibly be? Inadequate training leads to recruiters not knowing the very best recruitment techniques. And if you don’t thoroughly train the best techniques, processes, tools and company’s culture and values this can hinder a recruiter’s ability to effectively source candidates and win business.

𝗔𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻: Seek out the best recruitment sales training knowledge for yourself. Do you know at least 20 ways to find candidates without the web, for example? If you can’t write down 20+ non-web sourcing techniques within five minutes from reading this article then I’ll hazard a guess you don’t know them. What else do you not know? Make it your mission to get the best recruitment training knowledge into your business

6. Not enough time on the phone

I’m not a fan of measuring call time per se. For me, I train recruiters how to sell on day one and I inspire them with the right attitude. I then hold them to account via weekly one-to-ones. If I don’t see that good attitude and love of being on the phone in conversations with candidates and clients, it makes me realise I could have made a hiring mistake.

𝗔𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻: if your staff are not on the phone enough, run weekly training sessions (30 mins) for as long as it takes to inspire them. Role-play, role-play, role-play. Play back call recordings if you have them and work out how to improve delivery. Teach your staff better ways to engage with candidates and clients. If that doesn’t work, consider replacing them with better quality talent

7. Ineffective Sourcing Strategies:

If you only teach traditional online sourcing methods, you are setting up your recruiters to fail. You may even be setting them up to become ‘keyboard warriors’ rather than recruiters. There are 40 different offline sourcing techniques.

Let’s isolate one – referrals – and think about the difference between: “Do you have any friends looking for work?” v “Just before you go, I wonder if you might be able to help me? I’m working on another role in one of your target companies. It’s not at your level, it’s you three years ago. I’ll keep an eye out for roles at your level but what they are looking for is X.Y.Z. They’ll pay what it takes to attract the right person and the team has doubled in size in the last year. I wondered who you might know who would value an opportunity like that?”

Without going into the finer detail of training the most effective way to get candidate referrals, can you see how the more skilful recruiter is more likely to get that candidate and therefore more likely to make the placement that the less skilful recruiter doesn’t?

𝗔𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻: Teach the best offline sourcing techniques to your staff and role-play, role-play, role-play. Delivery is as important as the technique.

8. Poor planning, poor focus:

You already know that poor time management can lead to missed opportunities. In the early days of their career with you be sure to assess their daily plan. More importantly, hold them accountable for it. Equally important is focus. Every human being needs to take a break, but under-performers tend to take breaks whilst harder working colleagues are still on the phone.

𝗔𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻: Coach and induct new recruits on the intensity required to become a top performer. Make this clear on interview too so that you put off the people that won’t succeed in your business

9. Limited Industry Knowledge:

Years ago, when I first got into financial recruitment I bought “Finance For Dummies” from WH Smith and read it in my own time. I highlighted key points in yellow so that I could refer back to them. One week later, I was interviewing finance candidates and meeting with employers with a good degree of credibility

𝗔𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻: Search YouTube for “What does an XYZ employee do?” or ask ChatGPT to breakdown complex job titles down and explain them to you. No excuses here, just get organised and hold them accountable to prove to you what they’ve learned


    1. Not following process: 

    You could argue that this point is mainly a leadership and management failure. 

    Firstly, because many recruitment companies still don’t have clearly defined processes and nor do they train those processes. And secondly, because managers don’t lead the way by following processes themselves. I’m talking about things like updating the CRM after every conversation, diarising follow-up calls within the CRM, cleverly written templated emails within the CRM that can be edited by the sender etc. I’m also talking about template job order forms that ensure recruiters ask the very best questions when taking vacancies from clients and a whole lot more.

    Action: Train all your recruiters, whether they’ve got experience or not, in The 50 Steps to World Class Recruitment. Let me give you just one of those steps that many recruiters do not do: preparing the client to interview your candidate. Yes, not just preparing the candidate for interview but also preparing the client so that they sell the things that your candidate is looking for. 


      1. Work-life-balance

      Don’t get me wrong here, we all need to enjoy our lives and spend time with our loved ones. But when you start a new job, you have to throw yourself into it, particularly during the first year. I’ve come across relatively junior recruiters who “want to work from home” before they’ve even mastered their craft. I’ve said good evening to new colleagues who left the office at 6 pm whilst I’m still closing deals (before I went to attend a networking event). And the sad thing is, those new colleagues left the office, despite having urgent vacancies.

      Action: Test hunger during your interview process, and when you take verbal references on your potential new employee. During induction, work them hard. Get them used to the world of hard work. Let them know that there will be a test at the end of induction and that if they can’t prove to you sufficient understanding of what you’ve taught them during induction, they will fail it. Put this mantra in your mind: “If they don’t work hard in the first week, when are they ever going to work hard?” – and be prepared to cut if you don’t see evidence of work ethic.


        1. Glass half empty:

        The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty” – Sir Winston Churchill

        Everything is a chore when dealing with these types of people – “I’ve searched LinkedIn and I can’t find any candidates” “I posted an advert, but the response was poor” “I can’t get through to the client” “I’ve sent LinkedIn messages but the candidate hasn’t responded.” 

        Always excuses, always reasons why things can’t be done. Resistant to advice, think they know best.

        Action: Thoroughly examine their attitude during interview. Once again, take verbal references and really go deep during those calls (I know that some of you don’t do that). And most importantly, nip this in the bud early. Sit down face-to-face, look them in the eye and tell them some home truths. If they don’t like it, they can leave.

        Would you like to save 20 hours each time you hire?

        And reduce your recruiters’ time time-to-bill…?

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