So what’s really the problem with recruiters?

By Philippe Riboton, Managing Director at HR Partners International Executive Search

This is the least-guarded secret in Central Europe at the moment. From Warsaw to Budapest and from Prague to Bratislava, business leaders will tell you before you even ask: their major issue is not business growth, their main problem is people.
With a rate at about 3%, the Czech Republic currently enjoys the status of the European country with the lowest unemployment rate. The situation in Prague gets even to a Kafkaesque level with a so called “negative unemployment rate”. The picture isn’t much better in Warsaw or regional Polish cities such as Wroclaw or Krakow – where business process outsourcing (BPO) is king and personnel is worth gold.

But let me ask a provocative question. Why is it then that the most common feedback I get from people in search of a new job in Central Europe is that they barely receive an answer when sending their CV to either recruitment consultants or so-called talent acquisition managers?

Let me dare a provocative answer: there is a little problem with recruiters.

Call it a lack of pure professional skills or simply a lack of emotional intelligence but one has to admit that some recruiters often miss the most basic manners – either when dealing with job applicants when they receive their application or in keeping them informed about their status in the selection process. According to numerous professionals I speak to all year long recruiters often keep job seekers “hanging in the air” with zero information.

A former Managing Director of Korn Ferry in the Czech Republic, Alice Punch, now owner of Punch Leadership Consulting, acknowledges: “what a shame that recruiters underestimate the need for a professional dialogue with job applicants. In today’s semi-automated world, it is easy to have predefined response emails. In times of lack of suitable job applicants, some recruiters might be frustrated with lesser quality of applications, nevertheless that does not give a permission not to respond to jobseekers”, Alice says.

While recognizing that he’s joining the crowd of those who experienced very little quality from recruiters (“much lower quality than what they are asking for from candidates for their clients”, he says), Heinrich Homola, interim general manager with, believes “this is “digitalization’s fault”: because it is so easy nowadays to apply for jobs, recruiters are overwhelmed by the number and the low quality of applications. In parallel, the companies’ desperation for staff multiplied the number of recruiters and the communication channels. This is true for all segments, down to low level jobs in the service sector”, Heinrich concludes.

Blame it on their youth (as most of them are often in their twenties) or simply their lack of social skills and etiquette, this is the ugly truth.
It is time company leaders realize that if they want to address effectively the shortage of employees and improve their so-called “employer branding and reputation”, they also need to work on their corporate behavior towards job applicants. And this starts by changing the bad manners of their recruiters.