What In The World Is That Recruiter Thinking? Here Are 5 Likely Possibilities.

Someone very close to me is a surgical nurse.  And a really good one.

She works in the operating room when a stroke patient is having a device maneuvered through their neurovascular tree in an attempt to correct interrupted blood supply to the brain.

Serious stuff.

And, by any definition: It’s brain surgery.

The laws of our fragile human biology – and nature – dictate that there’s a fine line between success and failure in that setting. And enormous pressure to get it right: EVERY DAMN TIME.

But enough about how smart and talented she is, let’s talk about me:  I’m a recruiter.  An executive search consultant.  A head hunter.

What our firm does for our clients is clearly not brain surgery. Not even close. But getting it right is important to them and every candidate.

So, while there’s no life-and-death pressure in our jobs, there are written and unwritten rules/lines (some fine, and some common-sense) that those in my profession always have in the back of our minds when we’re neck deep in a search.

Some of these are obvious.  Some spoken.  Some not.

Here are five things that are on your executive recruiter’s mind when she / he is working on an engagement for a client:

1. Who’s the Boss:

Not the candidate.

Not the recruiter.

This is Rule #1.


2. The Clock’s Always Ticking:

There’s always a sense of urgency in executive recruitment.

Most of the timeline is driven by the Hiring Company. They initiated the engagement – and the need is theirs.

The takeaway here is that there’s not always time in the moment to chat-up every candidate who sends a resume, email or message.  I personally network with (and invite) candidates who are not a fit for the present search, to connect with me on LinkedIn – and as a firm we develop the relationship connection, and keep them all on our radar for a future potential fit.

However, the reality of project-based client relationships is that when the client has laid down their timing expectations, the recruiter chases that clock before all else.  That’s just common-sense.


3. Who’s Off-Limits:

Most recruiting firms have quite a few clients.  And those client relationships are prized and protected.

Which means that the recruiter will never recruit from within an active client – and he/she will follow the direction from the client on from which competitors/companies they have (or don’t have) interest in recruiting.

So if a recruiter tells you that you aren’t a fit, it might have nothing to do with your personal credentials, and more about the logo on your paycheck.


4. Confidential Means Confidential

You might be more trustworthy and more honest than Mother Teresa. But no matter how much of a “vault” you are, when a client has established that certain information (company name, position location, compensation details, etc.) is confidential, a recruiter would be foolish to share any of it publicly – until the stage of the search where the company has given the nod for specific disclosure.

This is a basic fundamental of executive search and management recruiting – and it’s burned into every recruiter’s brain (no pun intended).


5. Is there a Love Connection?

Even though the company is in charge, and they are driving the search process, a massive part of the equation, is the love affair between the candidate and his/her potential new employer.

No one needs to be in love with the recruiter (it would be NICE, but not required), which means that managing the matchmaking and the eventual love connection is a big deal – and a huge part of the head hunter’s job.

So, whether it’s managing expectations on interview timing, candidate compensation, relocation or job specifications, the recruiter is constantly gauging the level of attraction between those on the interview slate and the client. The recruiter is always thinking about how things are going, and if there’re going to be second and third dates.

So there you have it.  A handful of the myriad of thoughts running through that recruiter’s brain.

All in an effort to get it right for the client – and the candidate.

Every damn time.

Bruce Martin
About the author: 

Bruce Martin is the President of Broad & Pattison, Inc., the leading management recruiting and executive search firm serving the U.S. automotive industry.  His career includes executive assignments with DaimlerChrysler, GE Capital and Adecco, NA. Mr. Martin is a member of the Board of Directors for the Career & Networking Center, a Not-For-Profit based in Naperville, IL, and he serves on the industry Advisory Board of motormindz, an automotive Think-Tank based in suburban Detroit, MI. Follow Bruce on Twitter and LinkedIn