“RECRUITERS SIMPLY PUT OUT AN ADVERT, WAIT FOR THE RESPONSES TO COME AND THEN PHONE THE BEST ONE” – ANONYMOUS
The above is a comment from a genuine IT Professional on LinkedIn. It would appear that many people do not know what it is that a recruiter does with their time. To help, we’ve put together this handy “A Day in the Life of a Recruiter” hopefully after reading it you’ll have a newfound respect for the recruiters you encounter – we can dream, right?
In a nutshell – recruiters move people from their current job, into new ones. So if it’s that simple why do companies fork out on recruiters?
“The short answer is it’s not that easy, in fact, it’s bloody hard that’s why.” – Matthew Jackson
An embedded recruiter’s day-to-day is probably best explained through the recruitment process. And with the help of a snazzy flow chart, we shall attempt to explain as much of the day as we can.
This twelve-step process is the simplest journey, so let’s hope it’s easy to understand.
The Job Brief
At Troi, the overall job brief consists of multiple roles that need filling for a client, all with varying timescales, difficulties, idiosyncrasies, prioritisation, and hiring managers. To get the best results for the client this will usually then be broken down into ‘role briefs’ with the hiring managers. Which will give a more in-depth understanding of each of the vacancies.
It’s the job of the recruiter to come out of this conversation knowing exactly what vacancy the client is looking to fill, what is the key criteria the candidate must meet, what salary is the role paying, where the role is based, what level is the role internally, and does the candidate need any qualifications on top of their skills etc. Typically, the recruiter will set expectations at this point, discussing challenges and timeframes per hire.
Handy hint: honesty and transparency are key here 👈
Research the Role 👩💻
Researching the role is an important factor in the recruitment life cycle, it saves recruiters so much time chasing down unsuitable leads – it is a must. This is all about having the confidence to deliver. Recruiters should be able to hold a conversation with experts, plus they must also analyse them for their clients. Working on gaining knowledge of the field is time well spent and helps build a more fluid candidate experience.
Never overlook step two.
Advertise the Role
Writing a really good job ad is a fine art, a science if you will. They need to stand out from the thousands of other job ads out there and be the perfect balance of informative and salesy, all the while encapsulating the culture of the company in under 500 words. This is a time-consuming process.
Source Suitable Candidates
Despite the time taken over writing a suitable job ad, very rarely will the right candidate apply direct. Instead, recruiters will have to go ‘headhunting’, probably the most well-known phrase in recruitment, but what does it entail?
“To be honest, I could write a novel on what headhunting is.” – Matthew Jackson
For this blog, headhunting can be described as proactively sourcing candidates who are not actively looking for work. To do this, recruiters use a variety of tools, a main one is of course LinkedIn. To search for candidates, recruiters typically create a targeted Boolean Search String. It usually comprises skills, tech stacks, locations, current/previous company or industry experience etc.
This is where most of a recruiter’s day is spent.
Build a Candidate Pipeline/Project
It’s very typical for recruiters to have multiple sources aside from LinkedIn to curate talent. Other talent sources include X-ray searching, client’s career page (where candidates can apply directly), paid job boards and employee referrals. The ideal situation is to accumulate the candidates into a single database, but this isn’t always possible.
“As a squad, we built an “outreach tracker” where we populate all the candidates who look right, we can then track progress.” – Matthew Jackson
Once we’ve got our project/pipelines built it’s time to engage.
Proactively Engage with Candidates
Engaging with candidates is on the surface an easy task for recruiters; it’s writing an email or dropping a message, but just like sliding into someone’s DMs, doing this with the wrong tone or opening line can have disastrous effects. Rejection is commonplace, and so is ghosting – this goes both ways, as a quick scan of #recruitment on LinkedIn will illustrate.
The right introduction email usually features a combination of openness, detail and personalisation, but each recruiter will always have their style and that’s fine – if it works 🤷♀️ This may seem simple, but it’s not uncommon for Software Engineers to receive dozens of messages each day. This leaves recruiters in a difficult position. In a sea of messages, they need to stand out, be attentive, and not put the candidate off.
“The worst part about being a recruiter is going through meetings, researching, writing, sourcing, messaging and then WHAM, open my LI recruiter/emails and I’ve only got a 15% response rate 😣” – Matthew Jackson
While a 15% response rate is not horrendous, it’s important to consider that out of that 15%, only 3 candidates look spot on. It’s a lot of work for 3 potential candidates, but that’s all part of the job. The next thing is to schedule a call.
The first call can be broken down into two main branches: the “sell” and the “screen”. In this call, recruiters spin a serious number of plates, becoming sales professionals, psychologists, career coaches, friends, shoulders to cry on, psychics and philosophers.
“We’re underpaid” – Matthew Jackson
A good recruiter needs two important tools for the first call the ability to listen and to empathise. It’s important to understand the emotional connection the candidate has to their job, while also investigating potential factors that would be pushing the candidate away from their current position. This is standard sales procedure, ascertain the pushes and the pulls, but recruiters must sell to two different parties simultaneously, and the balance can be hard to strike. Other things recruiters will discuss on a first call are things like office culture, office location, remote working, important projects, and career progression.
That’s the sell, so what’s the screen?
Recruiters must gather the “need to know” information such as ‘is what the candidate said on their CV the truth? Often this consists of asking about experiences and getting examples, thrown together with some hypotheticals and competency-based questions that will give us an indication of how that candidate would perform in an interview. Anything else on the call can be chalked up to “housekeeping”. The nuts and bolts. Misc.
Presenting the Candidates to the Client
Often presenting the candidate is the most vulnerable point in the process for a recruiter.
“You have a lot of thoughts running through your brain:
“How is the hiring manager going to react?”,
“Are these candidates definitely, right?”,
“Why am I sweating?”
– Matthew Jackson
Like most things in the recruiting lifecycle, transparency and honesty are key. When sharing a candidate, a good recruiter will submit well-documented interview notes to the Hiring Manager. And while it’s important to include the good points, they’ll also highlight any concerns or areas for development.
The bug bare of most recruiters is organising interviews. One would assume that given all parties involved are deeply invested in the process it would be easy, however, it very rarely is. Getting sometimes 3, 4 or even 5 people to be free at the same time on the same day and then booking them in is a job in and of itself. Multiply the process by 3 and then sprinkle in things like dentist appointments and school drop-offs – it’s enough to make your head explode.
The key to a successful interview, at least from a recruiter’s perspective, is to make sure all parties are as prepared as possible. Be this with screening notes or by prepping candidates, being careful not to overload anyone with too much information. This is after all a nerve-wracking process, whichever side of the table you’re sitting at.
In the event of an unsuccessful candidate, recruiters then have the job of delivering the rejection call. This is not always the easiest of conversations but taking the time to give details on why the candidate wasn’t successful, builds trust through transparency for the client.
Rejection calls, when handled well are an important part of employer branding and help build the client’s appeal to future candidates, through websites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn.
The Offer ✅
“The day a recruiter doesn’t get excited by receiving an offer is probably the day they should quit. It’s a rush and it’s why we love it!” – Matthew Jackson
While the offer is part of the recruitment life cycle, it maybe shouldn’t be seen as part of the process. Rather it is the destination that the process builds to, a product of it, but not a sum of its parts. It is the responsibility of the recruiter to understand what the client is likely to offer, what the candidate is likely to accept and what the result will be when an offer is made.
Liaise With the Candidate Until the Start Date and Aftercare
The ultimate error a recruiter can make is to take a candidate’s word as gospel. Just because a candidate says they’ll accept or even signs a contract does not guarantee they will start in the role.
After a candidate accepts, recruiters often have got a big notice period to contend with, in tech for instance this can easily be 3 months. That’s 90 days where the candidate’s current employer can make a tasty counteroffer, 90 days where the candidate decides they want to move to Madagascar to become a digital nomad or 90 days for them to get cold feet.
The role of the recruiter at this point is to reiterate and reassure the candidate about why they’re joining the client. This is not an everyday task, but it is an important part of the journey. Not checking in on a candidate could mean going back to the start of this process. Often a recruiter will also check in when the candidate starts, providing aftercare and support to the candidate and client.
And that’s it, the candidate starts and recruiters start the cycle all over again!
[Original words by Matthew Jackson, edited for this article by Rebecca McEwen]