I Hate Recruiting – The Painful Truth

I Hate Recruiting

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There I said it and yes, these are strong words from an HR professional. However, being in human resources for over 16 years, recruiting is my least favorite responsibility and painful to manage. You have to be a special someone to love recruiting and I have many friends who love it. I once had a conversation with someone in the fast food industry who said, “you must have ketchup in your blood to enjoying working in this industry.” Touche! I am not sure what recruiters have in their blood that pertains to reviewing resumes and interviewing all of the time but it must be special. HR is all about working with people. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean you love recruiting. I love working with people, but I hate recruiting as it is a painful process. Let me explain how I hate recruiting and the painful truth of it all.

Why Recruiting Is Painful

Recruiting is Painful
Photo by bruce mars

Through my experience, recruitment is not only painful for human resources, but managers as well. I did some research to validate some of the reasons I feel management has recruiting frustrations. In fact, there are several articles that reference hate – I echo many of them. While most of the reasons are spot on, others seem like ‘excuses’ and actually add to my frustration. Allow me to explain.

Requisition/Job Posting Approval

This process is frustrating for both HR and Management. It can also be very, very time-consuming. Let me lay it out. In many companies (especially medium to large sized), budgets are approved at the beginning of the year yet re-approvals are necessary every-single-time. WHY? Business changes. If the company is not trending in the right direction from a financial perspective, why would we hire more people? MAKES SENSE TO ME – NOT SO MUCH TO MANAGERS.

When approvals are smooth, happiness is seen for a short time. However, if the budgeted position is no longer approved, managers generally don’t get it. They need to hire a replacement, new position NOW! Never mind there may be other issues that lead to the companies financial downturn. Employee performance is not where it needs to be? Sounds like a different issue but usually that is an HR conversation that nobody ever wants to have! So.much.fun – not usually.

Too Much Time Between Need & Hire

The process is daunting:

Employee gives notice > job description needs review > then (re-)approval > job posted/advertised > resumes reviewed > phone screens take place > interviews are completed > reference check done > pre-employment screening takes place > etc.

We all want to hire NOW and managers often want to bypass some if not all of the process to save time. By doing so, more often than not, the wrong people are hired. This can lead to a multitude of problems:

  • faster turnover
  • prolonged or additional training
  • productivity/performance issues
  • negative employee relations situations
  • not a great work culture

In time, the process starts all over again. Do you want to continue hiring over and over again for that same position? I can answer that…NO! It is painful and takes up a lot of time that is better spent helping the company and other employees maximize their potential. At the end of the day, the company needs to be successful or there won’t be any employees…right? Why can’t we do it RIGHT the first time? Proactive vs. Reactive. I digress…

Too Many Resumes/Not Enough Good, Qualified Candidates

Too Many Resumes - Recruiting
Photo by Tookapic

At times, there is no perfect way to ‘weed’ out unqualified candidates. Reviewing resumes is daunting for many (me included). Sure, some applicant tracking systems (ATS) use keywords and pre-screen questions that can help. However, the keywords are never 100% accurate and can leave out some awesome candidates. In addition, many managers don’t trust the ATS process nor want to put in the time to create pre-screen questions either. The number one focus is experience, not job fit. UGH! I have to go through all of these resumes? What about culture fit? These resumes suck! Many of these phrases that have stuck in my mind over the years. What to do?

Documentation * Documentation * Documentation

Recruiting processes can be audited at any time. There are laws regarding recruitment and it is imperative management and HR both document the entire process! Yes, you read that right…every resume, why they move forward or not, interview notes, etc. Managers do not understand the significance of this information unless they have actually been subject to an audit themselves. As an HR professional, I have had to gather documentation and respond to audits, lawsuits, and EEOC claims as a result of a hiring complaint. While documentation does take time, it most certainly saves a whole lot of time and effort in the event of an audit, complaint, etc. Human Resources always chants…document, document, document. It is our motto because in almost every single situation involving employees, documentation helps with the positive and negative aspects of the employee cycle!

My Recruitment Whoa’s

I echo many of the management reasons above when it comes to recruiting. In the beginning of my career, I worked in a position where there was no system to track positions and resumes. “Just track it however you want.” That left you with a manual filing process and perhaps an excel spreadsheet. Very frustrating because by law, you need to keep track of applicants and the reasons why they were selected or not. Doing it all manually is not awesome for HR or management. Don’t even get me started about the rules, regulations and laws in place for companies to be audited. Some examples of what many companies need to have or keep track of… affirmative action plans/recruitment records, equal opportunity employment guidelines, etc. Could these be the reasons for why I hate recruiting?

Throughout my human resources career, I’ve have working within various applicant tracking systems. Still, the recruiting process is frustrating. Systems should make it easier right? It is easier to track resumes and responses – so much easier! However, the amount or resumes or lack of ‘good’ resumes still exists. If you have many jobs, the majority of your daily routine is spent perusing resumes. For HR Generalists and HR Business Partners, recruiting is only a fraction of your job. (Btw, when a manager needs to hire a position, they believe it is your only job.)

There has got to be a better way!

I found it a waste of time to review candidates that lacked information on a resume or left answers to the pre-screen questions blank (lack of professionalism in my opinion) when they apply. I found that some candidates apply just because they have to show an attempt to find a job for unemployment pay purposes but submit nothing by way of experience. That is a bit stressful. Waste of time.

How To Love Recruiting


Not sure I will ever LOVE the recruiting process. However, I do have some ideas on how to help make recruiting less painful for all, at least in the beginning!

  • Choose an applicant tracking software (ATS) with features that will help you streamline the recruiting process for both HR and management. An ATS will make it easier to communicate back and forth with management and the candidates and it will also help track the process. This all saves time. While there are stand alone ATS systems, the majority are within an human resources information system/management system (HRIS/HRMS). These are systems that have different modules for recruitment (ATS), performance management, learning & development, and in some cases employee relations tracking. Having experience with several different systems, I do have favorites.
    • BambooHR for small to medium sized businesses (you can get a free trial here).
    • Workday for medium to large sized businesses.
  • Train all hiring managers thoroughly on the why, what, and how of the recruitment process. The more they know and understand, the easier the process will be for all and the less time and frustration wasted.
    • Explain the step by step process and why each are important.
    • Educate managers on the laws so they are aware of why documentation throughout is necessary.
    • Engage management to help build questions into the system to help weed out ‘ugly’ candidates.
    • Review job description with management to make sure it is accurate, easy to read & understandable.
    • Train management on the interview process. Each position is different and interview questions are very important.
    • Have interview rating sheets for all interviewers to complete. This helps to gauge other interviewers experiences and narrows down the candidates when the hiring decision needs to be made.

Final Thoughts

Working Together-Hiring
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Last but certainly not least, human resources is the scapegoat when it comes to recruitment. What do I mean? We are the front line responsible for towing the company rules, regulations and processes when it comes to, well, everything! Recruiting is no different. It is important for management and human resources to work together to make recruiting more efficient and easier. Processes are in place for very good reason. Spend the time up front to spend less time on the back end. Be proactive vs. reactive. Time is money. Hiring employees cost money. Re-hiring for the same position over and over again takes time and wastes money. SURPRISE! Processes are put in place to save time and money.

Recruiting is a process.

Hiring is a process.

Employee relations is a process.

Performance management is a process.

While I hate recruitment and it is still a painful process, the truth is if hiring managers and human resources professionals could partner and work together, it may no longer be the bane of existence.

all the best…judean

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  1. HR is not a field I’ve ever worked in. You seem to have a really good handle on all of the complexities involved. I can’t imagine that recruiting is a simple task & it sounds like you know how to do it and do it well!

  2. I had to take an HR class for my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees and I agree that so much more goes into it than people think, just like any other job. There are so many legal things to keep in mind throughout every step of the process and vetting people can be quite tedious.

  3. I had no idea that recruiting was like this! I’m not sure what I thought, but always assumed it was easier than being a nervous interviewee!

    1. I always like to give my perspective…not all share the same and that is ok! I just wish recruiting was easier and that everyone was always on the same page 🙂

  4. Before I retired from teaching, I was the department chair and so wore the recruitment hat of sorts. You’re right, it’s not a job for the faint of heart! If we didn’t choose/hire the right teacher, we were pretty much stuck with them for the entire school year.

  5. I’ve never thought about it from this perspective! I didn’t realize how time consuming it is for an HR professional.

  6. Fascinating to hear about the recruitment process from the HR perspective! In my interactions with recruitment over the years, I had a feeling that it must have been a really stressful experience to screen through all the potential employees. Resumes, emails, phone calls, the occasional ghosting; it must take a toll! Thanks for being our heros! HR keeps the company together!

  7. I was in HR 30 years ago and loved every minute of it! We didn’t use computers so everything was done on paper and filed manually. I think we actually had it easier then.

    1. Back then I don’t think there were as many applicants/resumes for jobs. Or at least there wasn’t the laws and documentation needed for audits, right?

  8. HR is not my forte, but see you have found ways to resolve some of the things you don’t like about your job, and that’s always beneficial. Good luck with your new venture.

  9. Recruiting is the worst! I hire for a specialized position and it is like finding a needle in a haystack. It takes so long to hire someone and the need waiting is so big!

  10. I had no idea what goes into the hiring process… this is worth sharing with those who are looking for a job!

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