Why does being recruited have to feel like a bad date?

Every day I thank God for my son, my marriage and my job.  One of the benefits of being married is that I don’t ever have to date again, though that didn’t always stop people from flirting with me.  One of the benefits of being fully employed is that I don’t have to go through the job hunt and interview process, at least not actively sending out resumes everywhere in sight and going on numerous, aimless interviews, like so many bad dates I had set myself up with in my single days.  However, I am and always have been an open target for headhunters.  I always encourage recruiters who seek me out, because I may know someone else who is looking, or I may need their services in the future.  In these times, you never know. 


Years ago I was interviewed by a gentleman who described the recruiting process as a “whirlwind romance followed by a shotgun wedding”.  After the hire, you hope for the best.  The analogy between offering/accepting a job and a marriage is not new, but the experience of being recruited can be painfully reminiscent of my dating years.


Recently I had a call from a local recruiting company who was interested in me for a position they were trying to fill.  The position had been posted on LinkedIn, and I certainly have the few qualifications that were mentioned in the brief posting, so I took the call from the recruiter.  After all, I have my information on LinkedIn for everyone to see, so a recruiter searching for local HR talent should be looking for me!  Yes, I had the same attitude when I was single.  I wanted the guy to approach me!


Ironically, I often felt like many of those dates were like job interviews, as if I were applying for the position of So-And-So’s girlfriend.  Now I have the same awkward experience with recruiters.  First, they seem to want to know everything about me, brag about their firm or their own reputation, but they don’t want to tell me much about the position they are trying to sell.  Then, they ask questions that are very awkward.  “What areas do you feel you need to improve on?”  Well, I’d like to lose about 20 pounds, but that’s not really going to interest anyone.  If I knew more about the position, I could more accurately pinpoint areas where I need development and make my answer more relevant and informative.  But they play it like a game, trying to keep the mystery alive and see how I react. They might as well ask me what my sign is.


Of course, the really offensive question is “How much are/were you making in your current/past position?”  Now that’s just plain unfair.  It’s like asking a woman her age!  Okay, if you need to know whether I’m in the ballpark for what your client wants to pay, give me a range and ask if I can fit in that range.  I can say that I would lean toward the high end of the range, or that I am looking for more, or whatever.  Asking me to divulge my salary right off the bat robs me of any future negotiating power, and I don’t even know if I’m interested in the position yet!


Then the ultimate insult comes.  That’s when they tell me how impressed they are with my credentials and that they will call me back.  And you know what happens next.  Rather, what doesn’t happen next.  Even John Gray of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus fame admonished men for this one.  If I am no longer a candidate for the position, just call back and let me know! No hard feelings.  After all, I wasn’t that psyched about the position or company you kept so vague anyway.  I just expect a common business courtesy. I have often called recruiters who didn’t call me back when they said they would, only to be put off with excuses (“I haven’t heard back from my client yet”) and blown off again.


Since I am a recruiter myself for my own company, I understand the objectives of the phone interview and the rationale behind many of the textbook interview questions.  I understand the desire not to give away too much about the confidential client or to maintain the client’s negotiating position.  I do, however, respect the candidate’s desire to be treated with respect and appreciation for their situation and their time.  For instance, I do many phone interviews from home during off-business hours, so the candidate who is currently employed can speak freely away from the office.  I sometimes have to keep several candidates “on the hook” while waiting for a decision from my managers, but I try very hard to make sure I eventually get back to anyone I interview.  I am always grateful when I am extended that same courtesy. 


Since I do most of the recruiting for my company, we do very little business with outside recruiting firms.  When they do suggest using an outside recruiter, however, I cringe at the thought. While there are a few I might be willing to work with, there are more recruiters and recruiting firms I would not consider calling, either because coworkers have reported bad experiences with these recruiters, or because of the way I myself was treated as a candidate.  Who needs another bad date?


About stacifoss

I am an HR professional, runner, beauty consultant and mother who is interested in healthy living, psychology, business, education, politics, parenting, community involvement and loves to write!
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2 Responses to Why does being recruited have to feel like a bad date?

  1. Tami Tam says:

    Staci –

    I have to be honest – my gut reaction was to go on the defensive. But I cannot defend every recruiter out there that doesn’t do business like we do. I can tell you this – in 5 years of recruiting I have never left anyone hanging. At the very least they get an email from me but usually it’s a phone call. And sometimes it really is the client holding things up – I’ve had some clients not get back to me for weeks. Which is really crazy and I prefer not to work with those types of clients ever again. You take that chance as a contingency recruiter. They don’t have anything invested so sometimes they don’t care how much time of yours they waste.

    I like your analogy, though. I hope my none of my candidates feel like they’ve been on a bad date after we talk. I’d prefer they feel like they’ve just talked to some nice lady that might help me land a great job! It’s good to hear what it feels like on the other side of the phone and to always improve what we do when dealing with candidates.

    Thanks for your insights!

  2. stacifoss says:


    I hope that most recruiters out there are more professional and I have just had bad luck, although some of these experiences happened with some big name firms.

    I also get stuck when my bosses don’t let me get back to a candidate with an answer, so I know how that goes.

    Well, I did finally have a good dating experience which led to a successful marriage, so maybe the right recruiter is out there for me too!



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