Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.

The four things HR Recruiters don’t understand

There are not many times in my life that I’ve been speechless (if you’ve met me you’ll know not much throws me) but this year I’ve had a number of experiences that have been so incredible, I have been at a loss what to say. 

They have been related to HR recruitment. The horror stories of how HR people are being treated as candidates raised my eyebrows but it was when recruiters started to contact me as they had taken on an HR role to recruit, but didn’t really know what HR did and didn’t have any networks to talk to that I really started to feel that something was very wrong.

So what are the four things I don’t think HR recruiters understand?


  1. You need to give HR candidates the best experience

It’s not that you should give other candidates worse service, but HR candidates are a little bit different. Once they get a new job, in that role they’ll often have responsibility and authority for deciding which recruitment companies should be used. If they’ve had an appalling experience from you, you can guarantee you won’t be getting any placements. They’ll be looking to work with an agency that provides candidates with a great experience.


  1. You need to understand what HR does

HR is a specialist field. It’s not enough to have recruited a few HR roles. I fundamentally believe you have to have worked in HR to really understand the nuances of what we do.

Then conversations like this wouldn’t happen:

Recruiter: “I’m not putting you forward because you haven’t built a competency model.”

Candidate: “I’ve been an OD and Capability Manager for 10 years. I’ve build several competency models.”

Recruiter: “Well it doesn’t say ‘Has built a competency model’ on your c.v.”

Candidate: “Okay I can send through some extra information about the competency models I’ve built.”

Recruiter: “No I’ve already submitted the shortlist sorry.”


And if you are a recruiter who takes on an HR role that you know nothing about, do not contact me to help you write a PD for free, or tell you who to contact. Think instead about the ethics of telling a client you know what you’re doing, when you have no experience in HR.


  1. You need to give feedback

On the above note, HR candidates need better feedback than “we had a more suitable candidate for the job.” For our own development it can be really useful when we apply for a role to know where our experience or skills didn’t quite meet what was required. Of course to do this, you have to be doing #2.


  1. You need to test technical knowledge

For many operational HR roles, there is a large amount of HR technical knowledge that is required. You really need to test what level of knowledge someone has to be able to match them accurately to a role. Four candidates might say that they’ve dealt with disciplinary issues, but that doesn’t give you an accurate measure of what level of issues they’ve handled, how well they know the ERA and case law and match that to the role.


So there you have it. These are the things I don’t think HR recruiters understand and to be honest, here at Elephant we couldn’t see that these were going to change. Unless HR people actually recruited HR people, these things still wouldn’t be understood.


So we’re launching an HR recruitment division.

It’s HR recruitment for HR people by HR people. Our goal will be to address all of the above and actually start to make sure the right people get the right roles. If you’re interested to know more visit


But we can learn 

I always thought that HR and recruiters were two parts of a whole, but the last few months have made me realise there are big differences. Having talked to a few recruiters recently, they have told me that they have found the HR industry very strange, and HR people very different. I actually think we could learn from each other – great recruiters that I know are outgoing, network brilliantly, use social media and are innovative in finding candidates. In HR we’re often tired at the end of the day and don’t feel like networking at events (to our detriment of meeting new people), we dabble in social media for our own development but aren’t necessarily using it all the time and we’re often so under resourced that we don’t have time to innovate. We should work on changing that. 

I think recruiters could learn from us that recruiting HR people isn’t something you can just have a go at. You need to know HR inside and out.

Will we be able to change the game? We’re going to try!!


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This entry was posted on July 28, 2014 by in Uncategorized.
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