What Does a Recruiter Do? Part 2

Lola Oguntokun
6 min readOct 10, 2022

In last week’s article, I provided an insight into a Recruiter’s role, with a focus on some of the work Recruiters do with internal stakeholders. I definitely didn’t touch on everything but I’m hoping I provided a good enough birds eye view. This week is the second instalment focussing on the work Recruiters do with candidates.

After the initial interaction with the hiring manager and other key internal stakeholders, the Recruiter would normally have an understanding of the role, have the job description, know the interview process, have developed the job description into an engaging job advert and posted it on relevant job boards. Now, applications have started to roll in.

Reviewing applications

The first step or interaction with candidates takes place when reviewing CVs. In cases where the company receives a high number of applications, this can be pretty gruelling. There have been times when I have reviewed hundreds of CVs per day.

It becomes even more tricky to stay on top of this when you also need to attend screenings or interviews and they are taking up the majority of your day.

This particular part of the process requires strong organisational and time management skills as well as a high level of attention to detail.

Searching

Some roles don’t illicit the quantity or quality of applications needed. In those cases, we need to proactively headhunt.

Depending on the type of business you’re working for, this could look like:

  • Cold calling or cold emailing candidates in your applicant database. This works best the longer the business has been operating, because you’re likely to have more candidates in your database.
  • Reaching out to people on LinkedIn who are not proactively looking and to those open to new opportunities.

In both instances you have to become very skilled at searching. This requires knowing how to effectively create a range of combinations of key words to try to create lists of potentially suitable profiles. Once you’ve done this, the next step is learning how to effectively approach these profiles. I touch on this in a previous article on ‘How to Approach People on LinkedIn’.

This process is pretty tough. It requires the patience to trawl through profiles, which, if on LinkedIn, often have very little detail, and then you have to be creative and engaging enough in your approach for the person to care enough to respond positively. Depending on the market and number of roles, this may mean trawling through thousands of profiles per week and reaching out to hundreds of people per week. Whoo! I’m getting tired just thinking about it.

Screening candidates

So you’ve reviewed applications or found someone via a search who you want to set up an initial conversation with. This initial conversation, is a Screening. Screenings are often back-to-back all day every day. Screenings can be pretty full on.

As the Recruiter, you have to find the balance of leading and managing the conversation, without dominating it so the candidate is speaking the majority of the time and you’re getting the information you need. This requires you to be proactively thinking during the conversation and keeping up an energy that makes the candidate feel comfortable and informed.

Scheduling interviews

Where screenings are successful, we then need to schedule in interviews. When you’re trying to do this with one internal stakeholder, that’s usually fine… well, I can think of times when that has been painful but it’s quite rare.

In case you’re wondering what can make scheduling an interview for one person painful, let me give you an example. I’ve experienced a scenario where the stakeholder had no or extremely limited availability, no flexibility and the candidate had to wait weeks for a conversation. When we finally managed to schedule in an interview, the stakeholder asked for it to be rescheduled at the last minute. Ahhh, even as I think back to that now, I get a warm fuzzy feeling… not!

When you’re already juggling so much just trying to stay on top of your workload, this kind of extra work is disruptive and negatively impacts the candidate’s experience.

Now imagine trying to schedule panel interviews that requires the availability of three or four people or the candidate needs to speak to each back-to-back… yeah… good times…

Providing feedback

When all is said and done, we then have to provide feedback at every stage of the interview process. Depending on the stage and our workload this can be an email or a call, the further on in the process the candidate is, the more time and care is needed.

This gets particularly tricky when the feedback is not substantial or something we can share. You then have to find a way to either make it about another candidate being more suitable and the reasons why or giving the feedback in a more subtle and digestible way.

Sometimes the story doesn’t end there, sometimes the candidate doesn’t take the feedback well and responds quite aggressively. I think this is why some recruiters don’t jump at the prospect of giving feedback. Everyone wants it, but many aren’t prepared to hear it. This doesn’t happen often, but the experience can be so uncomfortable that it leaves a lasting impression.

Sometimes the feedback is, “I have no feedback”. Imagine being the middle person in that conversation. Yeah, I get it, it’s unacceptable but there’s only so much a Recruiter can do or push here, and it doesn’t mean that they haven’t tried. Sometimes the hiring manager or another key internal stakeholder just doesn’t get how unfair this is, no matter how many times you tell them.

Closing & Negotiating

One of the delicate and sweetest parts of the journey is when a candidate has interviewed successfully and it’s time to make an offer.

You get the candidate’s feedback, you share the positive feedback, you let them know about the offer then a few things can happen:

  • the candidate immediately and happily accepts
  • the candidate doesn’t sound excited, and tells you they need time to think it through
  • the candidate informs you their salary expectations have changed

Yeah… that’s right… a whole new minefield. If you’ve done your job well enough at the start of the process, this isn’t too bad to navigate… but if you’ve been sloppy, missed things, ignored things, let things slip through the net… this is the moment it catches up with you.

Closing a candidate is an art that starts before this conversation. It requires patience and understanding the true motivations of the candidate.

Once the candidate has verbally accepted, you’re then waiting for them to sign on the dotted line for the hire to be official. When they’ve signed…

Everything mentioned in this episode and Part 1 is happening simultaneously on a daily basis for the multiple roles the Recruiter is working on. Try to imagine that. It’s a a tough gig.

I guess this is my ode to Recruiters, the unsung heroes behind most businesses and their growth. Your job is not easy. You are balancing the expectations and perceptions of both internal and external stakeholders whilst managing the pressure of having to fill roles yesterday. Sometimes only appreciated when you eventually fill the role, only for that good work to be quickly forgotten when struggling to fill the next. I respect your determination and dedication, and your ability to pick yourself up after a disastrous week or month.

To all my dear Recruiters out there… Thank You for all you do. I know the joys and the struggles and I hope these articles have given a voice to some of your experiences.

--

--

Lola Oguntokun

I help build, shape and champion innovative companies and culture.