recruiter-why-dont-you-call-hr-examiner“Many are called but few are chosen.”

The business of matching people with jobs is horribly flawed, loaded with waste and abuse and impossible to navigate. While you may have heard about headhunters actively recruiting people from their current assignments, it’s a relatively rare thing. Fewer than seven percent of the workforce is ever contacted by a recruiter.

The odds are one in 12 that a recruiter will contact you, on average. In reality, the odds are way worse than that for most people. Recruiters work in markets where there are shortages and/or high demand. Most people work in occupations where there is relatively low demand. If you remove the seven percent who actually get calls from headhunters, the likelihood becomes infinitesimally small.

But wait, it’s worse than that.

Most headhunters work on a pure performance-based commission structure for compensation. The very nature of their pay forces them to focus on the jobs and skills that are most in demand. Since there is no sustained cash flow, most recruiters work in operations where capital is in short supply. Cash is king in the recruiting business.

Contingency headhunters plow through an enormous number of connections and gate keepers in their search for a candidate who feels like the right (and salable) package. They take on more assignments than they can fill (closing one in eight or one in 10 deals is normal in the business)

In order to complete a single search, a recruiter may review as many as 300 resumes, culled from a variety of sources, none of them submitted by the candidates. That pile is sifted into a short list of approximately 10 resumes through a series of telephone calls and decisions. Those 10 people are heavily evaluated before being presented to the customer.

So, assuming that the headhunter you’re talking to closes 12% of the positions she tries to fill, the odds are:

  • 1 in 12 (8.5%) That a recruiter will ever call you
  • 1 in 30 (3.3%) that you will make it to the short list
  • 1 in 10 (10%) that you will be selected
  • 1 in 8 (12.5%) that she will fill the job she is talking to you about

In other words, the overall odds are about 1 in 28,520 (.0035%) that your conversation with a headhunter will land you a job.

You are better off buying scratch-off lottery tickets.


This article was originally published in Glassdoor’s Career Advice BlogHere are more of John Sumser’s career articles at Glassdoor.


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