Top 3 Sources of Recruiter Stress . . . and How to Find Relief

Understatement of the Year Alert: There was a lot of stress in the recruiting profession during the Great Recession. Of course, there was a lot of stress everywhere during the Great Recession. The recruiting profession certainly didn’t have a monopoly on financially induced angst. Just ask any banker you know. Or stock broker.

Truth be told, there is always stress in recruiting. That’s because of the very nature of the profession:

  • It’s a sales profession
  • Unlike all other sales professions, there are people on both ends of the sale in recruiting. If somebody sells you a car, the car won’t change its mind at the last minute and not show up at your house. Not yet, anyway. Give technology a few more years for that one!
  • Changing jobs is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. So recruiters routinely work with people who are experiencing one of the most stressful times in their life. That’s bound to affect them

Marketplace Swings

But while there is always stress in recruiting, it’s not always the same kind of stress. That’s because the employment marketplace swings back and forth between a recessionary economy and a recovering economy. We are currently experiencing a recovering economy in the U.S. and we have been since the depths of the Great Recession.

The longer that an economy is in recovery mode, the more of a candidates’ market it becomes. In a candidates’ market, candidates have more options than they would during a recessionary market, and for obvious reasons: There are more job openings and more opportunities.


Employees Will be Easy to Lose and Hard to Hire in 2017
It’s become clear over the last several years that the job market has been not only recovering, but transitioning. Consequently, the latest changes wrought have given way to an entirely new type of candidate profile, report recruiters from the field.


In fact, the U.S. has set a record for the most job openings ever – not once, but twice this year already. There’s never been more than six million job openings in this country in two consecutive months, but that happened in June/July.

As you might imagine, one of the top sources of stress for recruiters during the Great Recession was a lack of job orders. After all, the recession vaporized jobs in every industry. Companies were laying people off, they weren’t hiring them. As a recruiter, you can’t make money without job orders. As a human, you can’t eat without money. Ergo, stress.

But what about NOW? What are recruiters’ biggest sources of stress in a candidates’ market? That’s a great question. Luckily, we have an equally great answer. That’s because Top Echelon conducted a survey of more than 5,000 recruiters nationwide to compile information, specifically recruiting trends. The survey gauged recruiters’ opinions regarding a wide range of topics and recruitment industry trends, from their primary source of stress to the Trump Presidency.

As a result of that survey, Top Echelon published its annual State of the Industry Report. In it, they revealed the top sources of recruiter stress. From that list, we now present the top three sources of recruiter stress, and as a bonus, we’ve included ways in which to find relief.

3 Biggest Sources of Recruiter Stress

The list below is in descending order, which means that we’ll finish with the No. 1 source of stress. This is our way of not giving away the ending too soon!

No. 3 — Lack of Job Orders

Well, what do you know? This answer cracked the top three in a candidates’ market! It just goes to show the high level of importance that recruiters place on job orders. Even with six million job openings, they still feel as though there’s a lack of job orders.

“Lack of job orders” accounted for 16.1 percent of all recruiters who participated in the survey.

How to Find Relief: There’s more than one way to skin a job order. In other words, there’s more than one type of job order, and there’s more than one way to work a job order. For example, a client may not have a direct hire order, but they might have contract job orders. And the last time we checked, you still get paid money for filling contract job orders.

If you don’t have enough job orders to work, you can work the job orders of other recruiters! How can you do this? With membership in a split placement network. Recruiters in a split network share job orders and candidates, pooling their resources to make placements they would not have made otherwise. With the recruiter split fee agreement approach, you can even accept job orders from clients who are outside of your wheelhouse, then ask other recruiters for help with candidates.


Massive Shift to Contract Employment Underway
By 2025, most workers (70 percent) and employers (68 percent) agree that a majority of the workforce will be employed in an ‘agile capacity’ (i.e. contractor, consultant, temp worker or freelancer), according to a study released by Randstad US, one of the largest HR services and staffing companies in the U.S. 


No. 2 — Clients Slow to Make Offers

Ah, yes. This also seems to be a source of stress in a recovering economy and a corresponding candidates’ market. That’s because there’s a disconnect between employers and candidates. Even though candidates, especially the best ones, have more options, hiring managers do not readily recognize nor accept that reality. As a result, they continue to take their time, as though the same economic conditions that existed during the Great Recession still exist today. But the conditions are different, much to the eternal chagrin of frustrated recruiters.

“Clients slow to make offers” accounted for 30.8 percent of all recruiters who participated in the Top Echelon survey.

How to find relief: This might be the toughest source of stress from which to find relief. Over the years, the standard answer that many recruiters used was “Educate your clients.” But, you really can’t force education upon them. There are, however, some other things that you can do.

The first thing is to set concrete expectations at the beginning of the search, including what you expect the hiring manager to do, when you expect them to do it, and how long the search should last. Employers are so afraid of making the wrong decision that they delay their decision, which results in losing out on top talent. It is “paralysis by analysis” taken to a whole new level. The second thing is to communicate often during the process, referring to the expectations to which the hiring manager agreed at the beginning of the search. The third thing is to keep top candidates engaged in the process for as long as possible and do whatever you can to convince the client to keep those candidates engaged. That puts “more time on the clock,” so to speak.

No. 1 — Sourcing Qualified Candidates

Here’s how much of a candidates’ market this candidates’ market is: even experienced recruiters are finding it difficult to find the qualified and quality candidates that their clients want and need. Let’s start with the fact that top candidates are scarce in quite a few industries and disciplines. Then add to that the fact that some hiring managers and employers start to get picky during the hiring process. “Send me another candidate . . . send another . . . yeah, that one’s almost perfect, but we still want to see another . . .”

“Sourcing qualified candidates” accounted for 35.5 percent of all recruiters who participated in the Top Echelon survey.

How to find relief: Once again, a split placement network can help in this situation. With quality candidates so scarce and employers so picky, recruiters are finding that they’re exhausting their resources. However, by reaching out to another recruiter in their niche, they’re able to use that candidate’s recruiter, fill the position, make the placement, and split the fee. As the folks at Top Echelon are fond of saying: “Half a loaf is better than none.”

But even if you’re not into splits, there are industry trainers who specialize in sourcing strategies. One such trainer is Shally Steckerl of The Sourcing Institute. Shally is always on top of the latest and greatest sourcing strategies for recruiters. In fact, his most recent training webinar for Top Echelon was titled, “The Latest and Greatest Sourcing Strategies for Recruiters.”

So, there you have it: the top three sources of stress for recruiters and three ways to find relief.

Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor

Contributed by Matt Deutsch, marketing director at Top Echelon. Top Echelon started solely as a split placement network, but has expanded over the years and offers four main products and services: a leading split placement recruiting network; Big Biller software for recruiting firms; contract staffing services; and recruitment web design. You can take a look at their State of the Industry Report, which you can download for FREE on the Top Echelon website. The report contains not only the other things that stress recruiters out, but also addresses such topics as the biggest client complaints, the most common reasons that candidates turn down job offers, and where recruiters find their highest quality candidates. Take a look. Highly recommended.

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