Headhunters don’t take the rap for clients’ behaviour

  • Post published:31/03/2021
  • Reading time:5 mins read

StressedIf you want to know how to jerk the headhunter around, how to make recruiters hate you, how to toy with them and lie to them. Or how you lead them to believe one thing while meaning another, promise them something when you really have no intention of keeping your word. The following will tell it all.

There are certainly moments where I think that clients, be it HR people, corporate recruiters, or line managers, have conspired to make our lives miserable. “Our lives” as in those of us who make a living from helping client companies identify the increasingly difficult-to-find talent.

Sure, I can appreciate that some of you are at the whim of a more senior person who impulsively decides to move the goalposts while a hire is in the process. But I suspect that some on the client side are enjoying the moment of perceived glory whilst sending contingency recruiters and even executive search firms on a wild-goose chase.

But wait a minute. Who’s fooling who and who do you think has the last laugh?

7 ways that clients shoot themselves in the foot

Here’s where some, I repeat some, clients shoot themselves in the foot big time:

  • Calling the headhunter the same day as the interview appointment, to say that you are busy and want to postpone the meeting with our candidate to another day. Never mind that the candidate has taken one of their few annual leave days off just to meet you.
  • Ignoring the headhunter’s regular status updates that a few qualified candidates have been identified, interviewed, assessed and is ready to meet you. Emails and calls to get appointment dates are ignored whilst we try to keep the momentum and the candidates warm. And then after weeks of work, a mail that you have hired someone already.  
  • Briefing the recruiter on an urgent job (vacant position) and demanding a list of candidates within a few days, but then end up sitting on the shortlist for 10 weeks.
  • Sending one of your junior HR staff members to meet and interview a much more senior executive.
  • Not respecting the time of the candidate by turning up late to the set appointment at your own office. Or having the potential new employee sitting in a meeting room, which is not cleared of coffee cups, papers, chairs etc. from the previous meeting in the room.
  • Suddenly calling off a search or hire after the last two, still-standing hot candidates, have been through three face-to-face interviews with your company plus one video conference with a senior at head office, after providing names for reference checks which were completed, after doing both a psychometric assessment and a cognitive IQ test.

How can employers be so naive

frustratedHow can employers be so naive and blind to what they are doing to themselves?

It’s the candidates who will feel the pain, the disappointment, the unexpected anti-climax and suffering from being in the belief that your company was professional, ethical, and worth talking to about a possible employment.

I’m sorry to tell you that the middleman, the headhunter and recruiter you engaged to help you, will not take the blame for your unprofessional behaviour.

With the easy access to social media which we have nowadays, it’s your company name that is being tweeted, blogged and chatted about.

Don’t believe me? Check out glassdoor.com, then search for your company name.

But the damage doesn’t stop there. I bet disappointed candidates will tell colleagues and friends about their experience and warn anyone to deal with employers who are still living in the past where applicants (active job seekers) outnumbered candidates (passive job seekers).

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.