Why Do Recruiters Have So Little Knowledge About The Jobs They're Recruiting For?

iStockphoto.com |  timnewman

iStockphoto.com | timnewman


Candidates can get frustrated by a lack of in-depth knowledge on a recruiter's part regarding the job they've called about. You may want to cut the recruiter a little bit of slack. Start by looking at the typical recruiter role.

Recruiters typically work in one of two settings – either within internal human resources departments (filling internal jobs), or at staffing firms (filling jobs on behalf of their clients’ human resources departments). In either situation, it’s important to note the following factors:

  1. Recruiters are (typically) not technical experts on the subject matter the individual they’re looking to hire is expected to have. Their job is to fill jobs. All. Day. Long. Their focus is on sourcing and identifying talent to fill the open job. They need to know the right search terms, how to identify a potential candidate, the right things to look for in the resume, and a few key questions to ask the candidate to determine if it’s worth scheduling a conversation with the hiring manager. It’s not their job to know every nitty gritty technical detail of the position they’re filling. That’s usually the hiring manager’s job.
  2. It is the recruiters’ job to determine whether it’s worth introducing the candidate to the hiring manager. Recruiters should know enough to conduct an initial screen of the candidate’s credentials, general subject knowledge, and skills. They also check to qualify that the candidate’s salary requirements, commute, and personality fit the role and the company. Then it’s time to hand them off to the hiring manager.
  3. Recruiters are busy as hell. It’s not unusual for a recruiter to be expected to manage a load of 40 (yes, 40) open positions. Each one has a hiring manager screaming for candidates to fill their open jobs. Assuming the recruiter touches every open position once a week, that gives them one hour per open position, per week to source resumes, screen candidates, communicate with hiring managers, and address whatever other matters come down the pipeline. That’s not even close to enough time to do a truly deep dive on the specifics of the job. And sometimes the person recruiting is also working as a human resources generalist managing employee relations issues and other matters, and recruitment is just a component of their job.
  4. Hiring managers are busy as hell. “So what?” you may ask. Well, when a recruiter receives a new open position, they typically reach out to the hiring manager to gather information and develop a search strategy. I recruited for 19 years. I experienced countless situations in which I reached out to the hiring manager for more information and they couldn’t be bothered to return my call in a reasonable time (if at all). I was in the no-win position of being forced to decide between waiting for the manager to get back to me before recruiting, or plowing ahead on the search with insufficient data and hoping I was approaching it correctly.

That said, there are always exceptions.

Some staffing agencies or internal recruiting departments focus on recruiting specific disciplines, such as accountants. The intention is to mold these individuals into recruiters focused on that particular discipline, with the understanding that they can build a practice around their specific base of knowledge. It’s a lot easier for a CPA to establish credibility and build rapport with both accounting hiring managers and candidates, and well as to intuit the specifics about the positions they work on.

Also, some companies believe in giving their recruiters smaller workloads, supported by the idea that the recruiters can devote more time to finding the right person for each open position. It’s rare.

Make no mistake, there’s no excuse for a recruiter to be sloppy in their job. It is their duty to effectively source and evaluate talent, and to know enough about their open positions in order to add value to the hiring manager and ensure that the candidate has a positive experience with the employer. With time, practice, exposure to the subject, and after experiencing a few notable mistakes along the way, recruiters do get better at this.

This article originally appeared on Quora.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.