So many people are frustrated with recruiters, and why wouldn’t they be? Recruitment hasn’t changed a lot over the years. The tools have changed, but the principles of good recruitment vs. bad recruitment stay the same. And all of us have seen examples of bad recruitment.

In 2021, I received the following opportunity:

A recruiter message offering to connect Anya to new pallet jack/forklift positions available for hire immediately.
I am not a forklifter

I have no forklift skills, nor have I ever been a forklifter.

If you’ve ever received a similarly mismatched message, you may have started wondering why LinkedIn even exists, why recruiters are so bad at their job, and why the spam filter on Gmail failed you.

Does recruitment have a fighting chance for a better, enlightened reputation? At what point does recruitment become an enjoyable experience for the candidate or the client? What does different look like for hiring?

Staying true to my analytical nature, I could only go down the path of answering the above by first looking at anti-patterns in recruitment that bog down the recruiter’s reputation, taking the company’s hiring reputation down with it.

An anti-pattern is a common response to a recurring problem that is usually ineffective.

For each anti-pattern, I’ll attempt to define why this may be happening, and offer potential solutions. There is a better way to build more human-centered recruiting.

Anti-Patterns in Recruitment

Anti-Pattern: Mass messaging candidates and cutting corners instead of customizing

Why this happens

1. Recruiters feel pressured to move fast. These pressures could emerge from the C-level team, process inefficiencies, insecurity, or something other than quality driving recruitment.

2. Outdated company hiring values and philosophy. If the recruitment leader does not create a candidate-centric recruitment team, it’ll show up early and often.

3. Misallocation of budget or low recruitment budget. This results in the recruitment team outsourcing to low quality agencies, lacking the necessary tools to find the right candidates, and/or lacking the necessary recruitment talent on the team.

Potential Solutions

  • Recruitment leaders should provide clear market data and funnel metrics. Market data goes a long way in painting a picture of the hiring environment, and informs C-level teams of the hard work being accomplished, current process/tool inefficiencies, and strategy moving forward.
  • What principles lead your recruitment team? Can the team’s actions trace back to those same principles? Daily actions must clearly track back to team and company values. It sounds like a marketing ploy, but in reality, everything becomes easier when a recruitment team can be honest about what drives them and what they base their actions on.
  • Reassess your budget. Allocate budget toward lead sources that consistently provide quality hires. Focus on niche lead sources and up-leving internal talent before hiring more recruiters.

Anti-Pattern: Ghosting candidates and clients.

Yes, companies who hire recruitment agencies get ghosted, too.

Why this happens

1. Sometimes it can be an honest mistake. Too many messages and phone calls, and suddenly, candidates fall through the cracks. With that said, permanent ghosting should never happen. Recruiters can easily see if the candidate has emailed or messaged them. Be it a week or a month, there’s no reason why they can’t provide a transparent update or apology.

2. Companies who hire recruitment agencies get ghosted, too. The recruitment agency hired by the client is not client-centric. Instead, they’re focused on getting the contract signed, and sending over candidates if and when it’s convenient for them. If the client does not respond favorably, they are ghosted.

Potential solutions

  • Set up workflows so candidates aren’t missed. This could mean activity reminder tools in your CRM, Gmail, Streak, or whatever tools you use to ensure candidates aren’t being missed. The first and last part of the day should focus on candidate follow-up.
  • Slow down. We’re all human, and humans make mistakes. Slowing down may seem unnatural to both recruiters and C-level teams who have ASAP hiring needs. In my experience and in observing top recruiters, slowing down has always allowed for higher quality work, higher conversion rates across the funnel, and intentionality in candidate communication.
  • Interview the recruitment agency. How do you expect to interact with an agency? What are your unique needs as a company? What is most important to you as a client and what type of experience and result do you want out of this engagement?

Anti-Pattern: Recruiters who seem sales-y.

You know it when it happens. You’re attending a conference, and a shiny recruiter walks up to you and gets googly-eyed when they find out you’re a developer. Instead of focusing on making a human connection, they dig deep into your career aspirations as you block your face with your coffee and try to figure out an escape plan.

Why this happens

1. The recruiter lacks empathy for, or a true understanding of, their audience. If a recruiter focuses on the “sale” throughout their communication, they are far more likely to miss the opportunity for an authentic connection with a new person.

2. The company’s hiring philosophy or values are not candidate-centric. If the company’s leadership pressures the recruiter to make hires, without listening and considering market feedback from the recruiter, then the recruiter will naturally focus on making faster hires, quantity over quality. And why wouldn’t they? The pressure of losing your job is extremely anxiety-inducing, and leads to an insecure recruiter moving quickly to meet goals.

3. Some industries require a high-volume, rapid approach. There are industries that require high-volume recruitment, and it could benefit certain recruiters and industries to move quickly, aiming for quantity over quality. Therefore, I’ll speak specifically for the tech industry — it’s small. People know each other. Building long-term, strong connections are paramount to generating authentic conversations and at some point, authentic hires.

Possible solutions

  • Hire recruiters who prioritize building connections. These are recruiters who build thorough systems to maintain connections over long stretches of times with both candidates and their industry at large.

Anti-Pattern: Lacking understanding of the roles.

Recruiters aren’t expected to be technical. However, understanding the value a candidate will provide to an employer is only achievable if you have a deeper sense of their technical work.

Why this happens

1. Frankly, because it can. Many recruiters do not educate themselves beyond the job description and a discussion with the hiring manager. This is where a lot of the messiness in recruitment occurs — misaligned candidates from the outset, ghosting once the recruiter realized they made a mistake in reaching out to the wrong technical background, etc.

Possible solutions

  • Enroll in a one-day bootcamp. Specific to technical recruitment, taking a one-day in-person coding course at a local bootcamp often costs under $100. The recruiter expands their network and gains insight into the real world of software development.
  • Learn the grounding principles behind software development from one or two different sources. This helps the recruiter spark meaningful conversations with their technical candidates, translating into authentic hires.
  • Stay curious. Much like marketing, you have to know your audience. Ask questions if you don’t know, ask folks in the community what’s important to them. There’s always room to learn

Charting the better way to recruit in tech

Ultimately, all of these patterns tie back to one thing — creating a candidate-centric recruitment model. If software is built with the user in mind, then recruitment systems should be built with the candidate in mind. If every action a recruitment team makes is guided by the principle of putting the candidate first, then the above patterns will disintegrate. Recruitment will eventually receive a new reputation: career matchmakers, career therapists, awesome folks who help people find jobs, etc.

The Test Double recruitment team works with clients to hire exceptional, value-aligned technical and leadership roles. We treat our client’s candidates as we do our own.

You can learn more about our approach on our website or by emailing me directly at You can always reach out to me if you’d like to chat — no matter your background or industry — happy to make new connections.

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Anya Iverova

Person An icon of a human figure Status
Double Agent
Hash An icon of a hash sign Code Name
Agent 0075
Location An icon of a map marker Location
Miami, FL