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Can recruiters be "too matey" with candidates?

Posted on 8/07/2021
by Nick Boulton

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It's human instinct to be friendly, but do recruiters try too hard to be "matey" with their candidates? Client Server Director Nick Boulton thinks yes. 


I was sent a report this week that made for interesting reading. It was essentially a list of what technical recruiters do wrong, compiled by a bunch of scorned software engineers clearly soured by their experiences of the "dark side".

Many of the issues they took umbrage with I completely sympathised with and cringed at the stupidity, incompetence, and general unprofessionalism of many recruiters in our industry. Sadly the list of errors commonly made happens all too often and tarnishes all recruiters with the same brush.

(Thankfully, at Client Server, we don't 'commit' many - if any - of these heinous crimes.)

I found it interesting and slightly amusing that these complaints of 'serious recruitment crime' came from the same individuals who have or will rely on 'us' to find them their next job. Inevitably we will negotiate their salary increase, their share option package, benefits, and flexible working, ultimately vastly improving their lives. A little perspective, perhaps?

Remember, we all need to start our career's somewhere and having done this job for over 16 years, I'm yet to meet or talk to a techie that hasn't made their own fair share of errors.

So before you jump into the recruitment bloodbath and start clubbing those poor little consultants with the proverbial club, let us not forget a little bit of empathy and understanding goes a long way. You never know when you'll need one of those 'recruitment cretins' to help you next.

That said, there was one complaint that bugs me daily: the overly friendly use of the word "mate".

Good relations, building rapport and empathy, are one of the key weapons in a recruiter's armoury, but over familiarisation breeds contempt and leads to you losing control of the recruitment process and straight towards impending disaster.

I'm fortunate enough that over the years, some of my clients and candidates have, in fact, become 'mates', but until that point, never have I referred to them as 'mate', or as I hear all too often: bud, pal, even dude. Shoot me now! 

What recruitment consultants need to remember is we are in the PROFESSIONAL services industry and are providing an expensive, vital and compassionate service to both clients and candidates. Therefore, never is it appropriate to be over-familiar either on the phone or via email. 

The problem is also exacerbated by many of our candidates who may refer to you as "mate". DO NOT reciprocate!

So what is the proper salutation, I hear you ask? Well, here's an idea, USE THEIR NAME!

You have their CV, you have their personal details, you're effectively trying to help them find their next biggest life challenge. Why on earth would you call them anything else?

Relationship building and trust take time and experience. You can't hurry it along by throwing in the odd 'mate' and think you've now won the trust of your candidate, no!

Be professional at all times, do what you say you're actually going to do, feedback in a prompt fashion whether it's good, bad or no news and please avoid the use of the word 'mate'.

I know we now live in an environment where the formalities of social norms have relaxed, and the shackles of conformity have been thrown off, but there is still a level of professionalism that this job demands. We work with some of the best technologists and most significant technology businesses in the world. So just being 'woke' doesn't cut it, mate.


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