The Paranoia of the Recruiter

Disclaimer: This article is not going to be serious, but after you finish reading it, you will understand why recruiters are paranoid beings, why we sometimes act strange, and you will find out why it’s not our fault. And if you are a recruiter reading this article, do not take this article personally. It’s all in good fun. 🙂

 “In this world only the paranoid survive.” Dean Koontz

There are two types of recruiters out there: recruiters working for staffing agencies (including headhunters/freelancers) and recruiters working for companies. Their state of “paranoia” is very similar but there are a few slight differences.

Agency Recruiter

Most recruiters around me start in agencies. This is where you learn more about the recruitment field. It’s also where you discover that being a recruiter makes you paranoid.

When you find the first person and you have your first placement, everything is amazing. Yes, you heard things from your colleagues like: “Your candidate is not going to join the company,” or your colleagues tease you with taunts like “You have to pray that the candidate is going to survive the probation period” or “They told you about the second offer that they were waiting for, so they will take the second offer because it will be better.

But come on, this is not going to happen to you! You are different than the others, you have luck, you are working harder, doing things differently, and you know how to do the job! Well, life is funny sometimes. You can have plans, do things better, and work harder, but you are working with people so it’s going to happen to you and it’s going to happen a lot! You need to be ready for it!

And from the first moment that it happens to you, you will become more cautious with every new placement. After a few more situations like that, you will become a member of our secret recruiter paranoia club. 🙂

But do not be afraid. As a recruiter, we are always paranoid and we have to be. But it’s not our fault, this job made us paranoid. By the end of this article you will understand how this paranoia is actually good, and how we benefit from it.

Why are agency recruiters paranoid? Here are few examples of what is going on in an agency recruiter’s head.

Candidate: “I need to reschedule the onsite interview in the company, I am busy.”
Recruiter: He/she has probably another interview.

Candidate: Received the offer from the company and told you they need to speak with the boss before accepting.
Recruiter: They are going to start discussing the counter offer and they are not going to join the company, so no commission for me. And I can’t do anything with that, because in this moment it’s up to candidate to decide if what the company recruiter offers is better than another offer.

Candidate: Is not picking up phone after receiving offer from company.
Recruiter: They are going to reject the offer and they are not ready to tell me this over the phone or They are at another interview or They are waiting on another offer.

During probation period

Candidate: Sent an e-mail: “Hi, I need to speak with you” or he/she will call you to ask you for meeting.
Recruiter: Upon seeing the email: “Oh, my God, they aren’t happy and they will leave and I will lose commission”.

Candidate: Candidate calls you: “Hi, I need to meet with you.”
Recruiter: When seeing the name of the candidate on the phone screen, your heart almost stops and you start counting in your head the months of their probation. “It’s been more than 3 months, right?” For a moment, you start thinking about not picking up.

Candidate: Thinking: Why is the recruiter not calling me and why are they not asking me how I am doing in my new job?
Recruiter: Thinking: Two more weeks and they will pass the probation period and then I am fine. Two more weeks and I am get to keep my commission.

Company recruiter

Most company recruiters come from agencies, so they are already a little bit paranoid. But when the agency recruiter starts working for a company and not for a staffing agency, they will experience some new situations like:

Candidate: Got an offer and told you. “I need more time to think about the offer, give me 10 days.”
Recruiter: Thinking: “Are they waiting for some other offer?” or “Are they still doing interviews with some other companies?”

Candidate promised to send you the confirmation/contract during the evening. You check your email first thing morning and there is nothing. In your mind you start thinking: “What happened? Did they forget? Is my email working correctly? When should I call them?”

I could write the whole list of situations that could happen, but it would be a never-ending list or a book.

As a company recruiter, you are hiring people for your team. You are going to meet these candidates every day and you are going to work with them. Some of them are going to be your friends so most company recruiters are protective about their people.

When you are protective, you are not happy to see people you like leave. You become paranoid every time you hear that somebody is going for an interview somewhere else. And if you are good, you will almost always find out. Of course people leaving and joining is completely OK, but as a recruiter who helped to build the team, you hate losing them. Nobody but you understands how much time and effort is behind every hire.

Every time somebody leaves the team you built, you start thinking, “Is their departure going to tempt some other team members? What is the other company offering?” And this is the part when your paranoia is helpful. You will start searching for more information about this new company (your “new enemy”). You will try to find anything about them to “stop” them. During the search, you will likely find new information that will help you in your work, as well as new candidates that you can approach.

Why is being paranoid recruiter is good thing?

  • You think out all of the consequences before they have happened. This allows you to manage the expectations for everybody (yourself, hiring manager, hiring team, candidates, etc.)
  • You are not going to be hoping for a happy ending every time, so you won’t be depressed if it’s not going to happen how you would like.
  • Being hyper-aware allows you to notice other things like micro expressions, or to hear the difference in the voice and find the patterns during your calls/interviews with candidate. This lets you know what the candidate is planning to do so you are not surprised.
  • You will be more present during your discussion with the candidate and when you hear the same story that you heard many times before, you are going to know how the discussion ends.
  • Paranoia makes you a much more efficient and detailed recruiter. It will affect your pipeline and time to fill, because if you have “gut feeling” that at the end the candidate is not going to join your company, you are not going to stop your search. You will continue to build a strong pipeline so you don’t have to start the search from the scratch when the candidate calls you with the bad news that you already know.

The longer you spend in recruitment, the less you say to your colleagues “I never saw it coming” and the more you say “I told you so.”

In our life, we are candidates many times and as candidates we should be honest with our recruiters and not make them more paranoid. If you have more offers, if you are not sure if this is the right job for you, etc., do not be afraid to speak up. Call and tell your recruiter the truth about what is going on.

As a recruiter, we will really appreciate if you are honest with us and I am pretty sure that most recruiters will understand your situation. Some of them (especially if they are expecting a big commission) will try to push, but I hope that most of the recruiters on the market are professionals and will act as professionals. We understand that when we are going to look for a job, you could be the person sitting on the other side of the table and interviewing us! Be sure that you leave a good impression on that candidate so karma doesn’t bite you.