Are Recruiters a Necessary Evil?


You’ve probably heard the expression “necessary evil.” Usually it applies to a something which we resent but grudgingly accept as a fact of life. Taxes, for example.

Recently however, I heard this idiom applied to recruitment consultants. Not by a client or candidate, but by a recruiter! Even worse, he was a team leader.

Let’s examine this statement for a moment.

Are we “necessary”? The fact is that when it comes to recruiting, clients have a lot of options:

  1. They could head-hunt candidates for themselves. Of course, why would the client take time away from what they’re good at to spend time on something in which they have no training, experience or aptitude?
  2. They could advertise on job boards. Assuming they know where to advertise, and are able to write good ad copy, they then have to sift through an inbox full of resumes — most of which are unsuitable. Oh, and they’ll have to pay full rate card for the advert.
  3. They could search for candidates on LinkedIn and approach them directly. Even if they’re willing make the investment of time, effort and money, how successful will they be? Do they know how to sell an opportunity? Do they know how to turn a “not interested” into 2-3 candidate referrals?
  4. They could advertise the job on their own website. But will they generate sufficient traffic to get a decent response? Even if their company is well known and well regarded, they’re only attracting active job seekers. What about the great candidates who are not looking a job?
  5. Advertising online or offline. After shelling out thousands of dollars/pounds there’s no guarantee of success. And they still have to do all the work themselves!
  6. Word of mouth. They could conceivably find the perfect candidate by networking with their industry contacts, including clients, suppliers and employees. But then again, they might not.

It seems that clients do have several alternatives when it comes to recruiting staff. Therefore it would inaccurate to say that we’re necessary to the process.

On the other hand, there are obvious benefits to outsourcing all this work to a competent recruiter:

  • We save our clients a lot of time, hassle and money.
  • We work very hard to find candidates who fit our clients’ job role and company culture.
  • We promote their employer brand and actively sell their job opportunities in the marketplace.
  • We can produce better quality shortlists, faster than they can do it themselves.
  • We manage the whole process and often have a higher acceptance rate than offers made directly by the employer.
  • Many recruiters are even willing to take all the risk so the client only pays if they produce results.

It seems to me that we provide tremendous value to our clients and candidates, and the fee we charge is worth every penny!

Now let’s look at the second part of this expression, the part about being “evil.” Are recruiters evil?

Well let’s see…We help our candidates to improve their careers. We help our clients to grow their business and hire great people. Although it might sound corny, I firmly believe that we improve people’s lives.

So coming back to our cynical team leader who thinks “recruiters are a necessary evil”…

How does this bizarre idea (also known as a limiting belief) affect his performance?

  • Does he perform to his full potential?
  • Is he an obvious choice for future promotion?
  • Is he a great role model for his team members?
  • How do his beliefs affect his client/candidate relationships?
  • What about his job satisfaction?
  • How about his overall sense of fulfillment, achievement, happiness?

Even without knowing this individual, I bet you can answer the above questions accurately.

We need to be very careful when we come into contact with other people’s beliefs which ones we let in, and especially which ones we choose to accept.

Next time you have a negative thought, or hear something negative from a colleague, client, candidate, or manager ask yourself the following questions:

“Is that really true?”
“Where does that idea come from?”
“How credible is the source of that idea?”
“What evidence is that assumption based on?”
“If I adopt that idea, will it help me or hinder me?”
“Is that a thought that a big biller would think?
“If not, what would a big biller think instead?

I’ve had the privilege of working with over 10,000 recruiters, including some of the biggest billing recruiters in the country. One trait they all share is self-belief. Big Billers wouldn’t entertain this “necessary evil” notion for two seconds.

You can choose your beliefs. Make sure they’re the right ones. Which ones are the right ones? They’re the beliefs that help you to maximize your performance and feel good about yourself!

About the Author


Mark Whitby is one of the world's leading coaches for the recruitment industry. Since 2001, he has trained over 10,000 recruiters in 34 countries. Mark has helped recruiters to double or triple their billings and owners to increase their team's sales by 67% in 90 days.

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