Recruitment consultants - masters in disappointment?

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In our latest blog, John Gilbertson, Director at iMultiply, explores one of the more challenging aspects in the everyday role of a recruiter.

The number one reason our CEO, Kirsty Mackenzie, set up iMultiply was to raise the standards of the recruitment industry.  I often wonder if the poor perception of the recruitment world could be largely due to the volume of disappointing news a consultant is tasked with delivering during any recruitment process. Let me explain.

Don’t shoot the messenger

Rejection is a feeling that nobody likes but delivering less than ideal news is a big part of a recruiter’s job. Out of any 3 candidates attending an interview, at least 2 of these individuals are going to be disappointed and if this isn’t handled properly and sensibly, this could have a negative impact on an individual’s experience could colour their view of the recruitment industry in a negative light.

Don’t get me wrong, I do come across situations where a job seeker's concerns have been fuelled by unethical practices or a recruitment consultant not doing their job properly but the truth is we deliver bad news to candidates far more often than we do good.

An average recruitment process will involve contact with roughly 15-20 jobseekers for each vacancy that we have. This includes calls, emails and face to face meetings to discuss experience and suitability for the position.  Job applicants will be filtered down to a shortlist of 5-6 applications for presentation to the hiring manager who will then typically choose 3-4 individuals for 1st stage interviews.

Only one of the candidates can get the job which means that roughly 17 people will need to be rejected for the opportunity.  If you factor in that on average 1 to 2 individuals will remove themselves from the process due to it not being the right role or securing another job that means that 85% of the time, a consultant is delivering bad news

It’s not all doom and gloom

There is no better feeling of pride and accomplishment for a consultant than when the candidate they represent for an opportunity gets the job.  They have provided an employer with an exceptional individual that can take their business to the next level and have secured this person their ideal job.

The “you have a job offer” phone call is one of the best parts of the job and it is always an exciting and rewarding experience.  However, after this call comes the necessary series of difficult phone calls to deliver the news to the other applicants that have not been successful. 

It’s never an easy conversation and if you consider the investment in time required to apply for the job, discuss the role and attend interviews naturally there are a lot of disheartened people who perhaps have their own pressures with an unhappy work life or supporting a family that is motivating them to find a new opportunity.   This does not get any easier regardless of experience.

Considerations for an employer

I feel strongly that any consultant or line manager involved in a recruitment process has an obligation to ensure that the process is as streamlined, painless and professional as possible. For me, agencies exist to provide employers with access to the highest calibre of candidates, to save time and manage a professional recruitment process that positively impacts brand and reputation for all.

iMultiply focuses on real human behaviours; we believe in developing open, honest relationships and work with organisation’s who, like ourselves, value people, integrity, innovation and growth. We provide our candidates with exciting job opportunities, good working environments and clear career development.


John has been working within the recruitment sector for 7 years and has had a major impact within the Scottish market. Clients say that John’s greatest asset is his ability to comprehensively understand a role brief and to connect that to the most suitable candidates on the market.

John also sits on the board of a Scottish charity, giving him a great insight into some of the wider challenges that organisations face out with the recruitment industry.