Dark Ages Recruiters (and job seekers too)

by K B , updated on December 7, 2010

The inspiration for this post comes courtesy of Ross Clennett, trainer to the recruitment industry. He talks about “Dark Ages” recruitment practices. His pet peeves include recruiters who ask the strengths and weaknesses questions; the tell me about yourself question; and recruiters who describe organisations as dynamic and opportunities as exciting.

Here are his points in full:

1. Candidate interview ice breakers:‘Did you find us ok?’, ‘How’s your day?’ and ‘How’s the weather outside? Is it still sunny/rainy/windy/cold/cloudy etc?’ are the three excruciating ice-breakers that burst from the lips of every unprepared or lazy recruitment consultant. Is that the best that you can do? Really? How about reading the candidate’s resume and coming up with something much more personal? It’s not that hard, surely?

2. Agency website ‘about us’ section: ‘We are a boutique recruitment agency’, ‘We are committed to providing the highest standard of service to both candidates and clients’. Yawn, Yawn. Next you’ll be telling me you have an extensive database with access to the very best candidates.

3. Recruitment ads: ‘This is a dynamic organisation’, ‘This is an exciting opportunity’, ‘Seeking a motivated and enthusiastic person….’. Gawd, after a century of ad writing, are we still reverting to such mindless clichés?

4. Interview questions: Tell me about yourself?’, ‘What are your greatest strengths? What are your greatest weaknesses?’. Shoot me now if you are still using these useless, completely predictable questions. (If you need convincing why these sorts of questions should be as dead and buried, like Stephanie McIntosh’s singing career, then refer to my InSight article from May 2008 Interview Questions to Avoid and What to Ask Instead).

Ross’s points are a good way to tell a recruiter from a consultant as trainer to the industry, Bronwyn Murphy, wrote a few months ago.

I have a few others to add to this list.

If you want a consultant to take care of you as a candidate and discuss their role in terms of being good for your career, look to see how they network. LinkedIn can give you an idea of this.  For some reason I dislike the LinkedIn group interjections, where people may be exchanging ideas about a topic in a group, and up pops a recruiter with a variation of – ‘Great pay. Great conditions. Call me. Call me now!’ It looks a little desperate.

Now here’s the flip side. Networking is a two way street. Some job seekers forget this as well.

If you are approached by a headhunter in a professional way, via LinkedIn, they meet with you and are interested in you, then help them as well. If you have people you know who may be interested in roles and open to approaches, then recommend them. At the very least give them information about the industry or your role that may help them.

The best consultants know the best candidates in the industry.

You’ll want to be filed in their books under “H” for helpful.


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