Reasons you lose vacancies as a Recruiter

In recruitment the majority of this frustration can be controlled  that’s the good news. The bad news is that many Recruiters are not taught this well. Whether that’s a lack of will or skill within their leadership teams, is up for debate, but the reality is that most Recruiters are not taught how to judge where to invest their time; or how to quality and control vacancies to optimise their probability of converting placements.

So if it helps you with this common issue here are the classic top 5 reasons for vacancy loss and what to change.

1) The job was only ever a lead - it was never a qualified job.

The problem: In many office environments the relentless pursuit of vacancies and suffocating nature of KPI pressure can send Consultants off on a mission to generate jobs, any jobs just to get their boss of their back. The problem is once that job is there the same pressure from above is now on to fill the job and so the madness begins.Big companies give work to consultancy to get cabndidates for their requirement. As they pressurise consultancy for higher positions , then consultany give pressure on their recruiters . Its a chain of doing work .

The solution: If you want to stop wasting time working jobs that won’t convert you need a filter. This filter should score your roles based on how attractive the role is, how easy or hard it will to be fill, the ability to work closely with hiring managers directly vs HR, how strong the appetite to appoint someone now, and the level of exclusivity you can achieve on the role. Obviously attractive roles that the client will leave in your hands on an exclusive basis where you can liaise directly with the line manager for a decent fee are going to be your gold vacancies. They should always take priority. The roles where the role is bogged down by HR process, or has been managed by multiple agencies for months, or is not that attractive are going to be your sub-standard roles. Your aim is to give all of your attention to your GOLD jobs where you have a higher probability of conversion and because you channel all of your energy into those higher quality roles instead of spreading your bets across everything, you will convert more placements

2) Time… too much time

The problem: It’s an oldie but a goodie – but it’s true - time kills all deals. The longer your vacancy is live for the lower the probability of filling it. Time lapses are caused by you not giving the role enough energy or not having the right information at the start to really connect with and impact candidates; or worse; or such laborious HR processes that it prevents progress being made. Sometimes it takes so long because the client doesn’t have a pressing need and you have worked a speculative role without even knowing it.

The solution: Qualifying your roles in advance will help filter out the clients that don’t have enough appetite and because you will only work GOLD roles you will also have more time to spend on each individual vacancy. But then what? Many Recruiters trick themselves into thinking their roles can’t be filled. They genuinely believe they have tried everything but in my experience that is rarely the case it just feels that way. To really speed up the job filling process you should be mapping out your target market quickly to understand the total potential candidate pool and then taking a thorough approach to getting total coverage of that pool using all channels to ensure each candidate gets visibility and engagement on  your role if that’s a headhunt call, a Linkedin Inmail, an Instagram DM or a referral from someone in common, just do it. Every person you talk to or communicate with gets you on step closer to your placement. Keep going if you have control of your vacancy this will be easier to do.

3)Too few interviews

The problem: There is a science behind perm and temp desks when it comes to converting placements. Interviews are the one major predictor of success. You can’t leave GOLD vacancies sitting there with just one or two interviews arranged.

The Solution: You should be keeping your client busy with 4 maybe 5 good candidates to meet. Not only will it stop other agencies making spec intros to compete with yours but it also allows your client to feel like they have a selection and a choice of candidates. Clients are more likely to make a decision when they feel they are choosing the “best” person not just “a” person for the job. Again you know this is true how many times have you introduced an amazing candidate but they ask for more to benchmark?

4) Poor brief

The problem: You don’t understand what the client really wants and maybe they don’t either but unless you establish and confirm this you’re recruiting in the dark.

The Solution:  It’s always your job as a Recruiter to push your client back to understand what they really need form the role – never work from a HR job description. You should be establishing with your client exactly what makes a candidate attractive to them. Forget the official spec for the moment. What is the key? What pain does your client have that they are trying to fix with this appointment? You would surprised how often the client will drop their “nice to haves” and raise a completely different requirement that is essential. Knowing this in advance is essential to your success.

5) Unrealistic expectations

The problem: Your client is expecting more than is what is achievable. This may be level of experience compared to salary or simply just a lack of knowledge of what is available in the candidate market.

The solution: A lot of recruiters start work on vacancies knowing right at the start that what the client wants is going to be hard to find. Why bother? If you think over time you can convince your client to change their mind you’re wrong. All you will do is look incompetent in their eyes and after you have worked it for several weeks will lose the vacancy to a braver consultant who will give it to them straight.

Take control at the start by not putting your client up on a pedestal you are the expert in the room when it comes to understand where candidates are, what they find attractive and what is achievable. You and only you are the recruitment expert. Look your client in the eye and tell them that you would love to help them find a great person for their team but you would be doing them a disservice if you approached your market with the vacancy on the current basis and explain why it would damage their employer brand. Also show the solution and where they need to make adjustments to be successful. The fact that you are willing to pass on the vacancy will make them rethink and if they don’t let them give their impossible demands to someone else this time you can be the one to follow up and leave the door open to take the role back once they have realised the truth of your words. 


Recruitment is one of the very few professions that offers services up front without payment. As a Recruitment Consultant, no matter what market you focus on, you have a right to pick and choose the roles you work on carefully. You are making a calculated commercial decision about where to invest your time and energy for someone without any commitment on their side. Take control back and recognise that you are in fact the one in control. When you show that respect for your own time to your clients their respect for you in turn will rise.

Implement a filtering system that works for you today to score roles; and remember you can always say NO. Saying NO to a bad job will just leave you more time to focus on the GOLD jobs that are worthy of your time and attention.

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