Leadership Blog

Posted By: Eva Grabner | on November 19 2021

Recruitment – Expectations vs Reality

Keys to understanding and leveraging your relationship with recruiters

You have most likely heard negative stories about recruiters who don’t return calls or “head-hunters” who pursue a candidate aggressively, only to disappear. If you listen to all the buzz, recruiting professionals seem to be more likely to lead people on and ghost them than a bad Tinder date.

If you’ve ever been frustrated working with a recruiter or recruiting agency, there are two probable reasons for that. Either you were working with a bad recruiter, or you had false expectations about what working with a recruiter is really like. Here are five truths about recruiting that will help you learn what to expect from recruiters and get the most out of any future encounters:


Expectation: I should only reach out to a recruiter when I’m actively looking for a new job.

Reality: The best time to connect with a recruiter is while you are still in a job, but you want to stay open to other options. 

Recruiters are typically not a good last resort, but you’d be amazed at how many people come to agencies with comments like, “I’ve been looking for six months and I’m finally reaching out to a recruiter.” Except perhaps in temporary placements, this is the worst time to rely on a third party.

When you’re feeling vulnerable, frustrated and maybe even desperate in your search, use as many resources as possible, because so much of the process is based on timing.  You might be the greatest Payroll Specialist in the world, but if the recruiter you’re working with isn’t working on a payroll position at that time, they’ll be unlikely to provide help on the timeline you need.

So, make sure you are clear on your expectations and timelines up front.


Expectation: Every recruiter I meet will be well-versed on a variety of industries and career fields.

Reality: Most recruiters are industry specialists or only work on specific types of positions. 

In fact, you want your recruiter to specialise in what you do!  If your experience or interests don’t align with a recruiter’s specialty, they’re typically not as useful to your search because they won’t have the connections, relationships or experience to be a valued resource to either you or the employer in that area.

We’re always a little surprised at how upset people can get around this subject, but if you think about it, we don’t expect a person selling real estate in Sydney to find us a house in Perth and we don’t expect a tax attorney to handle our divorce.

Wouldn’t you rather work with a market expert rather than someone who does a little bit of everything?  One easy way to get the most out of working with a recruiter is to exercise due diligence on a recruiter’s areas of expertise before connecting with them.  Do your research and take the time to get to know your recruiter.  If they are not living up to your expectations, then speak with another recruiter who will be genuinely interested in and capable of helping you.


Expectation: Finding me a job is my recruiter’s top priority.

Reality:  Recruiters serve two masters: employers and job seekers. 

Although we are here to be a resource and an advocate for candidates, the placement fee paid to recruiters is always paid by the employer. Their job is to identify and engage great talent, and to keep the process flowing smoothly. Armed with a thorough knowledge of your skills and interests, a recruiter will present you for jobs that match both what you’ve told them you’re looking for and also our client’s needs.

However, even if you are qualified, you may not be the most qualified candidate for the role. In these scenarios, the recruiter’s job is to satisfy the employer’s desires regarding what they think is best for the role rather than presenting a candidate who fulfills only the basic requirements.

For example, if I was working with a creative agency, and they asked to see candidates who had worked in creative environments, I wouldn’t be a good partner to that client if I submitted a candidate coming out of a manufacturing environment, even if the title and job duties were the same, and even if the candidate really wanted to be in a creative field. Moreover, that candidate would have much more success applying for that role on their own, without a client considering an agency’s fees in addition to the candidate’s lack of industry experience.

Additionally, recruiters are almost never the decision-makers determining whether you get an interview or job offer. We typically have limited input into the decision, although they are often the ones who deliver the good or bad news to the candidate. Your recruiter should be as honest and forthcoming as they can be with the feedback and information coming from the client.


Expectation: Recruiters can help me define my expectations and hone my interests, and I can call them with frequent questions.

Reality: Recruitment is a business, and like any other business, it has goals and targets to reach.  Therefore, recruiters will try to spend their time in high-value ways, which means you should set communication expectations up front.  

Generally, we won’t call you just to chat — if we don’t have jobs that fit what you’ve said you would like to pursue or if you wouldn’t be a strong match for the role then we probably won’t be in touch. Sometimes, we’ll run multiple roles by you, but we may be working on jobs that aren’t in sync with your background. We’re usually working hard on closing a role and will be focusing our energies and attention on that. It’s important for both candidates and recruiters to set expectations. It doesn’t mean we don’t think you’re great or that we will never be able to assist you. You are always invited to check in with questions, especially if anything changes in your search.

So, in summary: if recruiters can help, we usually will! We make our living by creating matches between candidates and employers, and we gain a lot of pleasure from hearing about how our services impacted a job seeker’s life in a positive way. However, it helps to know a little bit about what we do, to get the most benefit from our services.


Eva Grabner
Managing Director
Elite Executive Pty Ltd
Cairns | Brisbane

Eva has been working in the executive and professional recruitment industry for nearly 15 years. She is a highly professional and driven Managing Director and Principal Recruiter with a wealth of recruitment experience across a multitude of industries. Her previous experience includes executive leadership and senior management-level operational roles throughout the world. What stands out as soon as you meet her is her passion for what she does. She is a proud Cairns local and solo parent to her son, Kai.