Are Recruiters Unicorns Now?

by | Jan 11, 2022

Or are you just being too picky? 🤷‍♀️

Unless you have been under a rock, you will either be receiving countless approaches or seeing your LinkedIn feed overloaded with recruiter jobs. The shortage isn’t news. We could even call recruiters unicorns.

There have been posts about the 14k recruiter jobs being posted on LinkedIn in the US, in the first few days of the year, or the 4600 posted in just 24 hours. Or perhaps you saw Toby Culshaw’s post on Jan 4th, where he searched LinkedIn using “talent acquisition” OR recruitment, with no function specified, worldwide and received 32,730 job results. Large numbers, especially when this doesn’t include all the other job titles, like sourcer, etc.


But is it justified to call recruiters unicorns?

Surely, if there was such a shortage of recruiters, I wouldn’t see posts like this so often?

Are Recruiters Unicorns Now? Katrina Collier

Especially, when a quick glance at Olivia’s profile reveals:

  • 5 months of recruitment experience and a bucket ton of customer facing experience!
  • ….and she is definitely going to know how to deliver a great candidate experience after the 💩 experience she’s having!

So are we struggling to recruit recruiters or are we not hiring for potential?

Instead of thinking, “Wow, look at all that ‘people-facing’ experience!” and getting her on a call, instead we are leaving her at breaking point!

Breaking. Point. 😢


Recruiting for potential looks like me!

I fell into the profession from aftermarket sales in the motor trade. Richard Norris, Steve Simms and Mel Agostini saw my potential. (Even though I swore in my interview! 😆 )

With some nurturing, hard work, and a bit of luck I have done okay for the profession…

  • Before the crash in 2008, I ran a profitable new client desk of 40 IT contractors. My contractors loved me so much they used to negotiate extensions and not reduce my percentage. Sole supplier to some clients; I even placed contractors without interviews!
  • Post-crash, I was the internal 360 recruiter for an IT consultancy. Without LinkedIn Recruiter or using an agency, I sourced & hired 50 Qlikview consultants. At that time, this was new tech and very few people had worked on billions of rows of data.
  • Since then, I have trained recruiters and sourcers around the world, and spoken on stage on 5 continents. I also co-hosted The #SocialRecruiting Show for 5 years.
  • I wrote The Robot-Proof Recruiter, a truly collaborative piece, with contributions from 74 recruiters around the world. It rates 4.7/5 on Amazon and 4.5/5 on Goodreads. And without the professionalism & teachings of Steve, Richard, Mel and Ray Murphy, this book wouldn’t receive the reviews it does. 🙏🏻
  • Now companies invite me in to run workshops to clear the collaboration chaos between hiring managers & HR/TA, exacerbated by hybrid working, that is making hiring in this market ridiculously painful. And I empower recruiters through the Mastermind.
  • And 6841 people have subscribed to this newsletter. And I host The Hiring Partner Perspective podcast to help recruiters partner better with hiring managers.

But imagine if they’d not seen my potential… 😳


“We don’t have time to recruit for potential!”

Okay, maybe you don’t think you have time… but what about this?

Are Recruiters Unicorns Now? Katrina Collier

In this comment I’m referring to my friend. Someone I have trained. Someone who has held some seriously senior roles in TA.

Someone well connected. Someone quoted in my book, The Robot-Proof Recruiter.

Someone who, when they get their confidence back after being shat on for 18 months, will run rings around most recruiters. (Oooh, I can hear the feathers I’ve just ruffled! 😳 )


I am angry because I see so much recruiter bias here!

1. Gap-bias: Yes, they have a gap, and heaven forbid someone looks past that to the 8+ years of experience. Let’s be honest here, recruiting isn’t brain surgery. A great recruiter never loses their skills; even sourcing hasn’t changed that much in the past few years! In our profession, gaps don’t matter! Being human does.

2. Ageism: Yep, they’re not 30! But… the knowledge they could bring to your team? 😍 The best recruiters I’ve learned from are a good 15+ years older than me. Heck, so much of the wisdom I impart in my book, is because they shared it with me. So what are you losing by thinking their age is a red flag?

3. Ableism: in the comments on Toby’s post someone mentioned that only 10% of the roles stated the word remote. My friend needs remote or hybrid because they have a hidden disability. Pre-plague, revealing this would have been far more detrimental to their search. But the number of jobs now open to them is significantly reduced just because of the missing words! So open up your talent pool by adding remote or hybrid to your jobs!


And introducing 💩 CV bias!

Okay, I just made that one up but let’s get real here. Most of you can’t write your own CVs either! Recruiters, who spend day-in and day-out looking at resumes cannot write their own. Don’t tell me you can, I’ve seen enough of your LinkedIn profiles to confidently guess what your resumes look like! 😆

Yet here we are in 2022 still recruiting on someone’s ability to write a CV. Silly, isn’t it? To be so judgemental over something we can barely write ourselves? (And, frankly, until all people can write their resumes, AI will never replace recruiters)

Talking to my friend, I discover this is the circa 100th iteration. They’re lost. They’re now so despondent that they don’t even know how to write a document that has enough panache that a peer will be kind enough to call or email them. It’s a vicious downward spiral.

It’s something we can stop. Because what is clear on their (self-declared) 💩 CV is the 8+ years of recruitment experience. Why not give someone the benefit of the doubt? Why not call and ask, “Hey, you’re selling yourself badly here, but you’ve got 8+ years of experience, did you do this… did you do that?”

So, I ask again… are recruiters really unicorns or are we dismissing them because they can’t sell themselves on a Word doc? Have we forgotten how to be curious and dig deeper? Have we already lost the empathy and compassion we gained in 2020?

[This, of course, applies to every profession not just ours!]


Want to know how to recruit recruiters in this market?

  • Hire for potential, and even outside our profession; be open-minded and curious.
  • Remember, gaps don’t matter. We are not brain surgeons.
  • Offer remote and hybrid.
  • Be selfish: hire people who are better than you or even significantly older than you! Just imagine what you’ll learn. And imagine the benefit that they will bring to your company and your job of bringing in the people that make the company succeed.
  • And never forget that, just like that, it could be you in their shoes.

#RantOver #BeKind #BeHuman


Well that was a ranty-rant but I simply want to improve the recruitment profession! If you want to be the best recruiter you can be in 2022 – subscribe to this newsletter, grab my book, listen to my podcast, or get onto the Mastermind waiting list, which will be opening again soon.

Originally posted on LinkedIn as part of the Recruitment Isn’t Broken newsletter.


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