Recruitment myths: 12 ugly truths

Recruitment myths: 12 ugly truths

Think employers should use as many agencies as possible? Or that you don't need to include a salary in your job ad? Then read on as we bust 12 common recruitment myths

The recruitment industry generates a lot of myth and conjecture. Here we’ve assembled 12 of those myths. Some will make you laugh, and others will make you cry with despair. The one thing they have in common is that they’re all dead wrong. Let us tell you why …

Myth 1: small recruitment agencies shouldn’t be trusted

We’re not sure where this rumour started, but it’s completely wrong. Just why? Why wouldn’t you? Because big corporations are always trustworthy?

Now don’t get us wrong. Most of the big recruitment agencies out there are big for a reason. They do what they do well, and they’ve been doing it for a long time  
But some of the best recruitment agencies we know of are boutique operations

If you avoid smaller agencies, then you’re missing out. That goes double if you’re in any type of specialist industry. These agencies don’t need a lot of staff to provide their clients with an amazing level of service. Instead, decades of industry-specialist experience and networking do it for them. 

Myth 2: job ads are easy to write – just use a template

This is absolute garbage. We carried out a study into what makes a job ad compelling, and the results speak for themselves.

Anyone who uses templates to write job ads should hang their head in shame. The same goes for job description cliches. If you’ve ever written an ad containing words like:

Dynamic self-starter … 

The ability to work alone or as part of a team …

Or worse …

Competitive salary …

Then perhaps you shouldn’t be allowed out of the office unsupervised.

Those cliches sound pretty familiar, don’t they? And that’s because too many of the job advertisements out there are terribly written. The trick is to produce something that speaks from your candidate’s perspective. Think about it.

Myth 3: experience is a good way to measure a candidate’s competence

A great maxim to live by is never to assume that an old person is wise. They might just have been ignorant for a very long time. 

With that in mind, why is it that so many firms judge candidates largely on their experience level? Ok, so while a bit of experience is never a bad thing, it’s far from the best way to measure someone’s worth.

Actually, in many situations it’s a terrible way to do this. Consider our analogy once more. Does the fact that someone has been in a job for five years mean that they’re good at it? No; of course it doesn’t.

So if you turn down a great candidate because they lack six months of extra experience, then more fool you.

Myth 4: agency recruitment won’t be around for much longer

In 2016, 4,529 new recruitment agencies launched in the UK. This was a 13.7% increase on 2015.

And these agencies aren’t a flash in the pan, either. Between 2014 and 2016, the survival rate for new UK recruitment agencies was 78.3%.

So agency recruitment is growing. That doesn’t guarantee that the trend will continue of course – but it’s hard to see why it would reverse. 

As with any business, recruitment is subject to the laws of supply and demand. Currently it appears that both of these things are growing. Catastrophic events aside, we see no reason for that to change. This includes the rise of AI recruitment (read on for our view on that ).

Myth 5: employers should use as many recruitment agencies as possible

Very often, recruitment agencies get paid only when they place a candidate. This is called contingency recruitment and is the most common form of recruitment in the UK. 

There’s nothing wrong with this either; it’s a tried and trusted system. It works well. Until an employer tries to game the system by hiring every agency in town, that is  …

Agency Central exists so employers can find recruitment agencies to suit their vacancy. Our advice to employers is generally to enlist three agencies at most. This is not without good reason.

Put yourself in a recruitment consultant’s shoes. Is it motivating to find out that eight other agencies are competing against you to get paid? Many agencies will even turn down work if they suspect that this is the case.

When working with agencies, it’s generally better to limit yourself. You could even consider giving someone exclusive rights.

Myth 6: candidates should send their CV to just one agency

The opposite of the above is true for candidates. As we say, best practice for employers is to give vacancies to fewer agencies. This means that for a candidate to have good exposure, they need to register with more. 

Candidates shouldn’t go too far and make the situation unmanageable though. Although you’d look very popular with your phone ringing off the hook, it would soon get tiresome. 

Shortlist a few good agencies that specialise in or at least cover your area. This site is a good way to find them. Then all you need to do is register your interest. You’ll soon be on your way to a new job.

Myth 7: recruiters only care about money

Like any industry, recruitment is not without its bad firms. It’s fair to say there are recruiters out there who care more about their haircut than they do your vacancy or career.

But there’s another type of recruiter out there – and actually they’re much more common. This one spends years learning their patch. They may even have had a career in their specialist area before switching to recruitment. 

This type of recruiter will be an asset to you, and will bend over backwards to help you out. It’s in their interest after all. No shiny suits, no Jordan Belfort act, and no selective phone-answering ability. It does make for a lacklustre stereotype though.

These are the benefits of dealing with reputable recruitment agencies. Agency Central has them by the bucketful, too – check out our directory.

Myth 8: salary is a secondary concern in a job offer

Remember the last time you went for a job? Remember how you didn’t care about the salary because you’re a highly motivated, energetic self-starter? Didn’t think so.

And guess what? You’re not alone. That’s right; no matter how good the job you are offering is, candidates will want to be paid for doing it. 

To make things worse, none of them are happy with their current salary. No one is. With the exception of Buddhist monks, people will always want more money.

So you’d be forgiven for wondering why people still write ‘salary: competitive’ at the top of job adverts. You’d have to be desperate to apply. Unless you’re targeting desperate candidates, include a salary.

Myth 9: a candidate who’s been successful in the past will always be successful in the future

Some people seem to be successful in everything they do. Others, not so much. It’s fair to say that a history of success could mean a bright future – but not always.

Imagine a candidate who’s held two previous positions – each for some years. They’ve been killing it too. Awards have been won; profits have increased; their salary keeps on rising. Times are good.

But what of the darkness behind this facade? What of the supporting cast?

The candidate has held but two positions, remember. Could it be they’ve simply had the good fortune to fall onto two stellar teams? Without those teams behind them, what then? Would they thrive so well without that support?

The lesson here is to question everything. This includes the source of others’ success. Not everyone reaches the top through hard graft and genius.

Myth 10: AI will soon replace recruiters

You’ve seen Terminator, right? The Matrix? You know how this goes. The computers become self-aware, and they give us fleshbags the boot …

Well there’s been a lot of talk of jobs disappearing thanks to automation recently. This has caused some to proclaim that the recruitment industry’s sky is falling. They think that a computer could do a recruiter’s job, no problem.

Consider that for a moment. Recruitment is all about connecting people and personalities. And people think that computers are going to do that better than humans. Ok.

No doubt a computer can learn to read people. Computers can check body language. They can measure things like pupil dilation and heart rate – and even analyse speech. But could one ever truly empathise with a human? Without wanting to get all Philip K. Dick on you, we doubt it.

That grey thing between your ears is the most complex thing in the known universe. A computer might be able to do an ersatz job of understanding the human mind, but it’s never quite going to match the real thing. There’s a reason we can comprehend the emotions of others. It’s the shared experience of having them ourselves that counts.

Myth 11: you should include a photo on your CV

Are you a model? An actor? No? Then don’t include a photo on your CV. It’s that simple.

Anyone who requests one when unnecessary is not someone you want to work for. Let’s face it, they’re going to get a pretty good look at you at your interview anyway.

But there’s more than likely going to be a few people present at the interview. This makes appearance-based discrimination that bit more difficult. 

If a hiring manager has certain prejudices or preferences, then it’s never going to go well for you if you don’t fit them. All we can do is to work towards ending that situation. Acknowledging that photo CVs are generally unacceptable is a big part of that.

In a similar vein, it might be time to clean up or hide your social media profiles. Employers are well-known for going through these nowadays, and it may not be doing you any favours.

Myth 12: recruiters are lazy – they just read CVs and send them to employers

As we say, not everyone in the recruitment industry is reputable. Some don’t provide much in the way of service. But that isn’t real recruitment, and those people aren’t real recruiters.

A recruitment professional is someone who will save you time and money. They’ll put you in touch with people who are a good fit for the job you’re advertising – as well as your organisation.

Good recruiters will spend time looking for candidates who fit your brief. They will then carry out preliminary meetings with those people to work out who will and won’t be a good fit. There’s nothing arbitrary or slapdash about this process.