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4 Reasons for Recruitment Failure Within the Profession

by | Oct 29, 2021 | Top Echelon Blog

Nobody likes to fail, and nobody sets out in the recruiting profession TO fail. However, it still happens. Countless recruiting agencies go out of business on a yearly basis. (And during recessionary times, the percentage can be as high as 30% to 40% of agencies in a given year.)

Sometimes, recruiters fail because of factors that are entirely out of their control. To a certain extent, that is the case with the economy. However, they also fail because of factors completely within their control. Or at the very least, because of factors that they can heavily influence.

To understand recruitment failure, study success

For the purposes of this blog post, we’re going to focus on those factors that are within your control or influence. And to help us on our journey, we’re going to enlist the experience and expertise of recruiting and staffing trainer Scott Love of The Attorney Search Group.

According to Scott, one way to look at recruitment failure is to look at the “other side of the coin,” namely recruiting success. There are two main ways to attain success in recruiting, and these ways are similar to how people attain success in other areas of their professional life:

  1. Relying on raw or natural talent
  2. Following a system

“A system is a pattern or model of doing something that can be replicated,” said Scott. “Consider it a recipe or a formula. If one person follows the recipe for making a cake and another person three states away follows it the same way, they will achieve similar results.”

Of course, training and continuous education also play a role in success. And yes, hard work does, too. But we’re going to assume that you already work hard and that you’re always training and looking for ways to get better. Right? RIGHT??

Identifying the warning signs of imminent recruitment failure

However, according to Scott, just like recruiters can follow a system for success, they can also follow a system for failure. These people aren’t even aware that they’re following a system for recruitment failure. Like many things in your life that you don’t want, it just sort of . . . happens. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs and put a stop to things before they negatively impact your recruiting desk, your billings, and your career.

With all of this firmly in mind, below are four reasons for recruitment failure within the profession:

#1—Not wanting to win badly enough

This one speaks to hard work. Specifically, it speaks to desire. No matter how talented you are, unless you have the desire to be successful, then you’re sabotaging yourself—whether you realize it or not. According to Scott, this might be the most important reason for recruitment failure.

“Whoever wants to win the most usually does, especially in a recession,” he said. “If you want to win, then you never pay the price of success. You enjoy the price.”

Scott indicated that he is amazed by how many recruiters expect their boss to supply all of their training and then pay for it, too. Instead, he recommends a more proactive approach, one accompanied by a heavy dose of accountability.

“Champions take responsibility for their own training and aren’t afraid to invest in it,” said Scott. “Go to the bookstore today with a $100 bill and buy a bunch of sales books for yourself. Take ownership of your performance and it will start improving right away.”


There is certainly plenty of distraction in the world these days. However, the proper focus is definitely a prerequisite for enjoying success. According to Scott, this one is his favorite because it represents one of his biggest personal challenges.

“I try to solve it by writing down my weekly and daily targets,” he said. “Ask yourself, ‘If I only accomplished only three things this week/day and still considered myself a success, what would they be?’”

#3—Attaching your identity to the outcome

This is a common pitfall for recruiters, specifically becoming too attached to the outcome. This happens when a recruiter’s self-esteem is based on how much money they make. Certainly, making placements and collecting fees are important, but at the end of the day, it’s just a job. When you’re too attached, you’re at risk for letting the job take over your life.

Scott recommends staying balanced and emphasizing personal relationships more than professional production on your recruiting desk.

“Don’t get sucked into the trap of measuring your success as a person by your success at your job,” he sais. “Don’t let external circumstances dictate how you feel on the inside. Find a source of strength that can carry you through the hard times because believe me, there will be some hard times in this business.”


This is another common pitfall and a big problem in the recruiting profession. Ultimately forget about your ego. Specifically, when faced with a decision, don’t make it based upon how you might look to other people. Instead, ask yourself this question: “Will this decision bring me closer or further away from my goals?”

According to Scott, he has seen recruiters pay promotional companies tens of thousands of dollars for marketing materials when the only purpose was to feed their ego. It had nothing to do with effectiveness and success. According to Love, even he has fallen prey to the dangers of allowing his ego to influence his decision-making.

“I’ve also seen myself pathetically lose business because I made decisions based on my ego rather than how it would serve my client or help me financially,” he said. “Check your ego at the door when you show up for work every day.

Think about it this way: why should you care what other people think about you, since they probably aren’t even paying that much attention to you, anyway? If you’re good at what you do, then eventually other people will find out. People are always attracted to successful people. All of that will take care of itself in the long run. In the short term, simply focus on setting your goals and making intelligent decisions that have a positive impact on your possibilities for success.

Although everybody has an innate need to be recognized, Scott recommends meeting that need through service to others and allowing them to recognize you for it. “That way, it doesn’t seem as contrived and is much more fulfilling,” he said. “Plus, it’s much better for your marketing.”

How to forget about recruitment failure

The bottom line with all of this is that you must think in terms of systems, especially systems that lead to success and not recruitment failure. If somebody else can do it, then you can do it, too. Study other successful people, including those within the recruiting profession. Perhaps it’s somebody whom you admire, or maybe they’re just more successful and you want to emulate them. How do they think? What’s their strategy, tactics, and work habits? Duplicate all of those to the best of your ability!

“Look at achievement in terms of a system and it won’t seem so far away,” said Love. “If you can see yourself as a successful recruiter, and if you know that you have a system you can duplicate, then you give yourself better odds for success.”

And then you can forget about recruitment failure . . . at least on your desk.

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