6 Toxic Behaviours That Cause Recruiters To Fail

6 Toxic Behaviours That Cause Recruiters To Fail

To survive and thrive in the tough and competitive world of recruitment, you need a pretty thick skin.

Clients can aggressively complain for trivial reasons.

Candidates can lodge a complaint with your managing director, “Because I’ve been registered with your recruitment company for two months and they haven’t found me a job.”

HR can warn you never to call a line manager again or else your recruitment company will be thrown off the PSL.

Colleagues can mercilessly ‘take the Mickey’ (a.k.a. bullying in some organisations).

And managers can make recruiters feel 1-inch tall by criticising 99 actions and only giving grudging praise once in a blue moon.

But these aren’t the 6 toxic behaviours I’m referring to.

Whilst bullying and old-fashioned management techniques are clearly obnoxious, the main reasons that recruiters fail include these 6 toxic behaviours:

#1 toxic behaviour

Blaming everything and everyone for underperformance.

You’ve probably met these people. There are never enough clients on the database; the company doesn’t invest enough in training; the company doesn’t spend enough money on advertising; the company doesn’t have a big enough brand, it’s not worth trying to win business at Christmas, Easter and in the summer because clients are on holiday; the candidate didn’t get offered the job because the client was difficult and awkward…

If you really want to be a superstar recruiter, remember it’s your job to overcome challenges, turn no into yes, and make money for yourself and the business. That’s why you will earn a fortune, whereas people who blame everything else for underperformance end up leaving the industry.

#2 toxic behaviour

Secretly not wanting to be a salesperson.

Ask yourself this question:

“What’s the first word or phrase that comes into your mind to describe a salesperson?” 

I’ve put this question to thousands of recruiters at events that I’ve run, and the answers include, “pushy, arrogant, wide-boy, liar, devious, slimy” – I do get some positive answers but, very rarely do I hear, “make customers’ lives easier by providing solutions to their biggest challenges.”

If you want to be a superstar recruiter, embrace the fact that you are a salesperson. Even better, remember that only the top 10% of recruiters make really big money and that they are professional salespeople.

#3 toxic behaviour


Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Top recruiters look for the positives.

Let me give you an example. On decision day, a client calls a recruiter and says, “We really like your candidate, but we have decided to offer a candidate from the other agency; thanks very much for your help.”

The pessimist complains about how unlucky they are. In contrast, the optimist congratulates the client, closes a review meeting, and asks the client, “May I ask you which company (i.e. the company not the agency) did you hire the successful candidate from?

Upon finding out that the client has offered the job to a successful candidate from your competitor, the recruiter approaches the business from which that person is leaving and picks up a vacancy for which they already have a few candidates because they just finished working on a similar role.

Is your glass half full or half empty?

#4 toxic behaviour

Not paying the price for success.

When I explain to recruiters that there are 35 ways to find candidates without LinkedIn, Facebook, advertising, or the web, most people are astonished.

And yet, those same people have often worked in recruitment for five or more years. Why don’t they know more about these techniques? Why haven’t they invested time seeking for experts from anywhere in the world to learn techniques that will give them a competitive edge?

The answer is that many people in life want success to come easy, and very few are prepared to pay the price of success by seeking out new knowledge and implementing it.

#5 toxic behaviour

Not valuing other people’s viewpoints.

Are you a good listener? Really?

As a salesperson, you will probably be excited about your service and, quite naturally, want to close the deal. Listening is a discipline; it requires patience even when you believe the other person is rambling. Good listeners move past the rambling and draw the person out.

You’ve probably encountered a good listener and I’ll bet that when you did, you felt relaxed and safe, and opened up more than you might do to other people.

Good listeners are good questioners. By asking good questions, you demonstrate that you are attentive, and people start to trust you because you are interested in them.

Stephen Covey summed it up brilliantly in his life-changing book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

’Seek first to understand, then to be understood.’

#6 toxic behaviour

Refusing to accept that there are better ways to do things.

’Things move along so rapidly nowadays that the people saying: “It can’t be done,” are always being overtaken by someone else doing it.’

You might be surprised to know that the quote above was written in 1903!!!

For goodness’ sake, if they thought the pace of change was rapid back then, how would they feel about the pace of change today?

As a recruiter in today’s market, you have no choice but to welcome change. There will be changes to your CRM system, which is the way you source candidates, USPs that you use to close clients, new features on LinkedIn, new apps, etc.

It’s a fact that if you’re not embracing new and better ways to do things, be aware that your nimbler, faster-moving competitors will take market share from you.

What’s your take on these 6 toxic behaviours? I know these aren’t the only negative traits to look out for when hiring people in your company and we’d love to hear your views.

You can reduce the risk of hiring mistakes in your business and learn 20 ways to source top recruiters by accessing our Recruiting Recruiters video course plus 700 other recruitment videos within our recruitment-specific Learning Management System. If you’d like to take a look, please click the ‘Show Me How’ button below.

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