…the biggest challenges recruiters have


The biggest challenge we all have regarding candidates is the candidate’s misperception of the marketplace and how their skills, abilities, and experience stack up with what is available to our clients.  The biggest complaint we hear about ourselves is that a candidate states, ” Well, I can do that job… I sent you my resume… I am the most qualified that you can find….. I can’t understand why you can’t get me an interview…. I am perfect…. just get me in front of them…. I’m the best you’ve got… I can’t understand why you didn’t respond to my phone call and resume….” and so on.

Our best candidates come from referrals or networking or actually calling a presently employed person and presenting a possible better opportunity (recruiting). Some of us will respond to a resume for a specific opportunity that we might advertise or respond to your phone call. Some of us will find your resume on the internet and call you.

Most candidates, even qualified candidates, have no idea how many excellent people there are available for most opportunities.  Candidates, as you know if you have learned anything from these writings, have a tendency to “see the world” through their own eyes and their perceived ability to do a job.  A good recruiter, even with a narrow search assignment can usually begin with at least 100 to 200 “qualified” candidates or resumes. Even the top retained search firms  start out with 100 to 300 candidates in the database for each search they do.  They then qualify, phone screen and narrow down those to 20 to 50 candidates, in-depth interview 10 candidates and present a final panel of three to six candidates.

Candidates are often surprised and enlightened when they understand the number of quality candidates available for most positions and that they’re being successful in even getting an interview isn’t based so much on their ability to do a job as it is their ability to get the job. Most candidates do not see themselves in the light of how they compare with other viable candidates.  Most candidates evaluate themselves based on their own perception and unfortunately they don’t have the perspective of comparing themselves to 100 or even 50 other people at their same level of professionalism.


 If you have absorbed most of the information in these articles, it won’t come as a surprise to you that the biggest challenge recruiters have with hiring organizations is they are “spiritual beings acting human.” Just because the organizations might need to hire a professional on any level, doesn’t mean that they’re going to do it all the time. They will change their minds about the kind of person they need a number of times in the process of a search, or corporate politics, unrealistic expectations of what the candidate market will provide, mergers and acquisitions, buyouts, unexpected changes in the business climate, stock prices, product failures and so on will affect their decision. Non-human events like a Covid pandemic, 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina can postpone or shut down the best of intentions to hire someone.

Like most professions, ours is one that is full of uncertainty. We deal with human beings on both sides of the equation.  We’re one of the few professions whose “product” can say “no” and walk away and whose “client” is just as unpredictable.

These two primary challenges are what make our profession so exciting and gratifying.  The service of a recruiter can change the lives of the individuals they are involved with as well as the course of their companies.  But the upside of this kind of gratification has lots of emotional and business risk.


Keep in mind that on average, recruiters individually only place 1.5 people a month. (This author averages 10, but that is an exception.).  Even the top recruiters in the most recognized search firms, according to Kennedy Information, only manage 10 to 11 ” searches ” at a time.  If the 5500 recruiting firms in the United States have an average of three consultants and each one of them averages 1.5 people a month, that’s only 24,750 people a month.

By itself that number may appear to be large, but when you put it in perspective of all of the professional job changes that go on in the course of the year, it is not that many.


What this all means to you is simply this: a recruiter might be able to help you but, you need to manage your expectations of what a recruiter can do for you and help them help you.  And what a recruiter can do for you depends on the nature of the recruiter and their relationship with the hiring authority or hiring company they are working for or representing.


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