Good Recruiter / Bad Recruiter


Good Recruiter / Bad Recruiter
Troy Hammond
Troy Hammond



August 12, 2022

I recently read Ben Horowitz’s book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” and it was a great read. The book was a breath of fresh air in that it does not follow the Kool-Aid drinking approach of “Everything is Awesome” if you just follow these 12 steps I have created for business.

To summarise the book it is an inside look at the tough decisions and lonely times all CEOs face, before showing you what it takes to build a great organization and become a world-class leader.

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As part of this book, Ben talks about the need for training your team. People who are great trainers and on-boarders are more likely to be GREAT leaders.

He references a document he wrote 25 years ago while employed at Netscape called “Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager”

Anyway so enough fanboying about the book. So I came into work this morning still thinking of this book and the first call I got was from a candidate who was referred to me by someone else who told him the Talent Army team was filled with ‘Good Recruiters.’

I love hearing this and I am very fortunate that I hear this about my amazing team daily.

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As I was still thinking about the ‘Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager’ from Ben’s book, I actually asked this candidate what made a good recruiter in his eyes.

He told me the two things he thinks make a good recruiter are; “Trustworthiness and technical knowledge.”

I was pleased to hear this as these are the top two things I mention to my team when I am onboarding them or just reminding them what good looks like in recruitment.

Rather than hold this information in my business, I thought like Ben I would share this for people to use, for candidates to look for when finding their next recruiter, or for recruitment leaders to give to their teams to show what good looks like.

Good recruiters know the market. They know if times are good, bad, great, or terrible. A good recruiter is an economist who is aware of market trends and conditions. They are aware of who is hiring and who is not. They know that a company is restructuring before it has hit the market and they know a company is raising money before the founder shares Chris Keall’s piece on their raise, hidden behind a paywall that they actually pay for to learn about their industry. A good recruiter is the CEO of their own company within a company.

Bad recruiters have lots of excuses. Not enough candidates in the market, the hiring manager is an idiot. X company is paying way more than their company and so nobody wants to work there. They do not have the right information on the market, their clients, or the understanding of the role and so they can sometimes make information up. Bad recruiters complain of never having enough time and are overworked.

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Good recruiters choose the domain they recruit in because they are interested in it and genuinely care about it. This means they spend a lot of time researching and learning about their industry and when they go to meetups, they go to learn and not whip out business cards like Quick Draw McGraw. Bad recruiters will not get back to clients when they have not found anyone and disappear or ghost the client if the search is too hard. Good recruiters will spend time getting to know their clients and deeply understanding their story so that it rolls off the tip of their tongue when they are wooing exceptional candidates for their clients.

Good recruiters take steps to actively work on their memory recall and actively work on improving themselves to increase their comfort zones. Bad recruiters take notes with pen and paper and never transfer the information. Good recruiters will ensure all the information they receive goes into a database or CRM to release information from their brains they do not need.  Bad recruiters have an inbox of e-mail that is unread and overflowing. Good recruiters spend time each week talking to industry professionals and keep their ear to the ground.

Good recruiters don’t get all their time sucked up by the wrong things in their day. They attend or run a standup in the morning and know exactly what they are going to achieve that day. Bad recruiters will have no plan or sourcing strategy for their day and will be changing tasks every time a client or candidate e-mails or calls them.

Good recruiters have a brain that is half scientific / half artistic. Scientific for learning new ways to source candidates and or solving problems for their clients. Artistic for developing a great personal brand in their domain with content that is specific for their customer. Bad recruiters will just copy and paste a PD to a job ad and post that to LinkedIn and wait for results. Good recruiters will think deeply about the picture and copy they use for every post online and A/B test it. Bad recruiters believe that only sourcers should source.

Good recruiters make a lot of money for a longer period in the long run as they have put in the effort and their hard work has rewarded them. Bad recruiters make good money for a short time as their lies and shortcuts catch them out.

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Statistically, good recruiters build relationships that last a lifetime or a career and are two-sided relationships. Bad recruiters just try to sell in every interaction they have with a client and say that they always have the perfect candidate. Good recruiters will educate their clients as they are the specialists in recruitment and offer their clients advice, counsel, and hopefully friendship.

Good recruiters know better than to judge a book by its cover or a candidate by their resume. They will read the CV, the cover letter and try to understand the person. Good recruiters will read between the lines and connect dots as they have a thorough understanding of the role.

Bad recruiters are racist and prejudiced and will just accept a client's bias about hiring more people exactly the same. Good recruiters will challenge their clients and not be afraid to have a challenging conversation about diversity when needed.

Good recruiters are trustworthy and earn that badge with honour. Bad recruiters will lie and cheat and have single-serving relationships like Edward Norton’s character in Fight Club because they are untrustworthy. Good recruiters may sometimes tell Ed Norton to accept the offer they did not get him, meaning they will not get paid, but knowing it is better for the career of the candidate. Bad recruiters will talk Edward Norton’s character into a role knowing the company is toxic. Good recruiters will get to work the next 5 roles that Edward Norton’s character releases exclusively even though they did not place him, but he is deeply trusted.

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Good recruiters have urgency and will always pick up the phone if they can to get work done faster, though have the EQ to know that some candidates hate talking on the phone and prefer to be reached by Slack. Bad recruiters will bulk LinkedIn in-mail developers using basic keywords meaning they have in-mailed 678 people and 478 are not even developers.

Good recruiters admit when they fuck up and will apologise if they accidentally forget to get back to someone. Bad recruiters will ghost people as they are too scared or too weak to say no or reject someone. Good recruiters will provide feedback every time be it good, bad, or sometimes just indifferent.

Good recruiters will read blogs like this, will read the newly updated The Robot-Proof Recruiter (Book) from Katrina Collier to learn their craft, will attend the next Phil Tusing conference, or fly all the way to SourceCon to learn more because they love what they do.

I am so thankful and happy that I have a team of good recruiters at Talent Army 🙌🏻

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