Nick Fear
Nick Fear
Senior Associate: Private Practice

Articles From the Team

Why are Recruiters so bad?

For a little over a decade I’ve committed my working life to recruitment and for the most part I feel like I have helped both my clients and candidates to achieve things that they wanted to. Generally speaking I don’t think that I’ve been too bad at my job and I’m definitely better at it than I was 10 years ago.

So it does perplex me a little that one of the leading google searches about recruiters is “why are recruiters so bad?”

Before I go further, perhaps some caveats;

• I have only ever worked in the field of professional recruitment (nine years in legal and one year in accountancy). A lot of the stories I have heard about truly reprehensible behaviour come from other fields but again these are only stories and nothing that I have witnessed. • During my time working for three different companies I have only ever witnessed a handful of people who really were “bad” at their jobs – all of them have ended up being sacked.

In my mind “bad” is a subjective term and is linked to expectation. If a high street law firm expects me to find them a 2-3 PQE commercial property solicitor, currently with a magic circle firm, who wants to work in Reading for £40,000 the chances are I am not going to succeed.

If a candidate from a high street law firm expects me to get them interviews for corporate roles with top 20 law firms, the chances are I am going to fail. So it might be that “bad” comes down to failure to set expectation. We all want to say “yes” to people – but it has been my experience that saying “no” and explaining why it is a “no” is actually much more powerful and useful. A recruiter should be a recruitment consultant. That is someone who consults with their clients and candidates and actively advises on ways in which we can move people closer to their goals. We should explore plan B and plan C.

This is not universally well received. Some of the worst experiences I have had with both candidates and clients have occurred when I have tried to explain why plan A may be very difficult to achieve and what (in my experience) a sensible plan B would be. Again this is due to expectation, candidates and clients have been so used to dealing with recruiters that just say “yes” that they are unprepared for someone that wants to be consultative. To these people therefore, I imagine that I seem like a “bad” recruiter.

Interestingly it is those recruiters who are too willing to say “yes”, who continually over promise and under deliver, that are generally viewed (within the industry) as being “bad” recruiters. This is an interesting juxtaposition because (in the short term) clients and candidates often view them as “brilliant”.

So why are recruiters so bad? To me it seems that there is a disconnect between expectation and reality. I firmly believe that by being honest with our clients and candidates – trying to bridge the gap between expectation and reality we can alter the perception of our industry.

As I look around the office and the people I work with at BCL Legal, none of them are “bad recruiters” (trust me I’ve worked with “bad”). All of them know their markets and are willing to be consultative and set realistic expectations.

So if you are in the legal field and have found yourself wondering why recruiters are so bad – why not get in touch with us and see if we cannot show you a different way. After all there must be a reason why we are growing rapidly, whilst our competition are standing still.

Nick Fear, Senior Associate

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