Six Credibility Robbers That Recruiters Use

Posted on Monday, June 20, 2022 by Alison Humphreys - Award winning NED and strategic advisor

We all know recruitment is a competitive business. Winning business from clients is hard enough. But there are certain “habits” that are widespread – endemic, even- in the industry that are making it even harder.

I’ve consulted with 14 “clients” (line managers and HR professionals who are targets for professional recruiters) and used my own insider knowledge to come up with my top six credibility robbers. If you or your colleagues use these phrases repeatedly, you could just be sabotaging your own efforts.

  1. The clichéd introduction. An introduction that talks about your agenda, instead of demonstrating that you understand the client’s agenda, is going to get you off to a very poor start. Anyone who calls a prospect and is “just introducing myself” or “making a courtesy call” is already circling the drain. Other clichés that set prospects’ teeth on edge are “saving you time and money” and bragging about your ability to source “passive candidates” as if it were something new. Being “listed on all the major job boards” doesn’t impress either. All it really says is that you don’t have any personal connections, reputation or insider knowledge.
  2. Inappropriate enthusiasm. When a candidate tells you that he/she has just been given notice of redundancy, the right response is never going to be “Fantastic!” no matter how bang-on that person is for your role. Similarly, when a client says that someone has just resigned, don’t say “Brilliant” no matter how excited you feel. Just… don’t.
  3. Never and always. “I don’t trust any recruiter who uses these words” says one Head of Resourcing for a major bank. “We will never send you an inappropriate CV” just shows naivety. Think about it; “I’ll always be your best friend”, “I’ll never tell your secret” are the language of the playground. Leave them there.
  4. Dissing the competition. Everyone knows that recruiters compete, but damning individual competitors or the whole industry, is just sleazy. Kevin Green, the former CEO of the REC, once told me about the two days he spent listening to 12 leading recruiters pitch for his business at the Royal Mail. Without exception, they described the industry as full of dodgy, unscrupulous operators – everyone, in fact, apart from whoever was speaking at the time. In the end Kevin decided not to outsource his recruitment to any of them (and to do something about it by joining the REC).
  5. Expressions of surprise. “You’ve had 20 CVs for this vacancy and none have been right? Wow!” Surprise just tells me you’re inexperienced. I never want to deal with a doctor who hasn’t seen my symptoms before because he won’t know what to do. That goes for recruiters as well.
  6. The Customer is always right. Guess what? This is simply not true. Many customers may have an idea about the kind of profile they want, but far fewer have up-to-date information on whether that person is available. Even fewer know what they will have to pay and how to interview. Being an order-taker who can’t fill the vacancy doesn’t help anyone. Providing evidence based recommendations and alternatives is much more credible.


Alison Humphries is a highly experienced MD and NED, with 35 years at the top of the recruitment sector.

She advises directors and owners of recruitment businesses on strategy, finance, sales and management to maximise performance, enter new markets, prepare for sale and work more efficiently. 

Copyright 2021 © Recruitment Leadership

 You may not, except with the express written permission of the author, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system. Recruitment Leadership

Previous PostNext Post