The top 5 things HR needs an external recruiter to understand

By Nadine van Lier

Published Date: 2020/10


Recruiters. What can I say? 

As an ex-HR professional turned Recruitment professional I now understand both sides of the coin - and believe me when I say – it’s complicated.


I don’t think I’d be out of line to say many recruiters have thought:

“Oh that HR is so slow, what do they even get paid for?”

“Always full of excuses, why won’t they just do their job?”


And on the other side HR professionals have thought:

“I wish that recruiter would stop hounding me”

“Don’t answer that phone call, it’s that recruiter!!!”


Sound familiar?


Back in my HR days when the recruiter’s phone number showed up on my desk phone, I would think twice before picking up, a year later and suddenly I am that person ringing on the other side of the phone. 

How the tables have turned! 

Having said that, I do love my new career path. I do however feel that if recruiters could empathise with the HR role the ol’ “love-hate” relationship between the internal HR team and an external recruiter would run more smoothly. 


So listen up recruiters because the class is in session!


Lesson 1: HR wears many hats, recruitment only being one

As an HR professional recruitment is not my only job! I deal with many, many issues on a daily basis. There might be an emergency in the office like a physical altercation or a sexual harassment charge. Or I might be in the process of making someone redundant and negotiating a fair settlement package. Please be patient as I sometimes have other priorities to focus on - I will get back to you as soon as I can.


Lesson 2: HR doesn’t call all the shots 

I haven’t called because I’m still waiting to hear back from all the relevant stakeholders about their availability to interview or their feedback about the interview. It drives me crazy when the Hiring Manager and the Department Manager disagree about who to choose but I am not at liberty to make that decision – my role is to advise during the decision-making process and coordinate accordingly once a decision has been reached. I wish I could gather everyone in the meeting room with no one permitted to leave until I know who to make the offer but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.

There might even be talks that the role might be canceled but it’s not been finalised yet so I cannot tell you. It’s horrible, we know, but sometimes HR gets pressured to fill a role at lightning speed even though the entire approval process has not been officially completed. 

We get told by management that it’s all been approved verbally and that it’s extremely urgent. So we jump into action immediately and start setting up interviews with the fantastic candidates that you, the external recruiter, has provided only to be told that we’re not going forward. It’s embarrassing for us, we didn’t intend to waste your time (or ours).


Lesson 3: We all have to do what is best for our respective company 

Just as you are sending your top candidates to different clients, we have sent the Job Description to a few recruitment companies to make sure we recruit the perfect candidate. We may have made an offer to another candidate and are waiting to hear back from them. We can’t always play open cards in case you get demotivated and concentrate on other mandates. 


Lesson 4: Let’s play nicely together!

If we contact you for a role it means that it is our responsibility to work with you and get this role filled. It won’t help to try and circumvent HR by contacting the Hiring Manager directly if they wanted to engage with you they would have but they didn’t because that’s what we’re here for.

Through better communication and working with HR as a professional business partner you might just learn a bit more about the firm’s talent needs, the firm’s culture, what hiring managers are looking for. HR and recruiters can build wonderful, positive reciprocal relationships. If we like how you work you will be the first person we contact when we hire again. 


Lesson 5: I can’t always consider your “perfect” candidate

Recruiters like to be proactive and reach out when they have a strong candidate and think they would be a great addition to a company. As an HR professional, I already have a cabinet and an inbox full of impressive CVs - there is simply not enough time in the day to consider everyone especially when we’re not even looking. 


So there you have it, folks, no more of this “us” and “them” nonsense, let’s cooperate, be respectful of each other’s time, and empathetic towards each other’s challenges. We both have the same goal of putting the right talent in the right place at the right time, let’s remember that and focus on building a relationship of trust. 

The connection between the recruiter and the HR team can and should be a good one,  an enjoyable one, and most especially a mutually beneficial one, in order to make sure that the company makes the right human capital investment. 


Author: Nadine van Lier, Recruitment Consultant GRM Search