Is there such a thing as luck in recruiting?

As recruiters, we may feel that a good bit of our success has to do with luck.  There are so many factors that go into recruiting, and many of them rely on someone else besides the recruiter.  In order for a recruiter to be successful they have to rely on a lot of outside factors, including:  the funding of the position they are working on, the accuracy of the job description they’re working on, the willingness of the hiring manager to competently interview in a timely fashion and the commitment of the hiring manager to actually make the hire, the participation of HR to process the hire properly and efficiently, and above all recruiters have to rely on the candidate to be truthful, reliable and committed to the interview process.  As recruiters, if our success relied solely on our efforts I truly believe most recruiters would be millionaires (I also believe there would be a massive influx of people joining the recruiter community).  But, as we all know, that isn’t the case.  Our success is directly linked to the efforts and actions of others.  So it isn’t surprising that some recruiters see luck as playing a major role in the success of their careers.

Sometimes it’s the good luck that plays a role in the success of our careers and that allows us to hit our goals efficiently and effectively – seemingly with little effort.  You know the days- you get into the office early and go through your voicemails, emails, and new applications.  Throughout those voicemails, emails and applications you identify 3-4 quality candidates that match the opening(s) you’re working on.  You spend 10 minutes on the phone with them and have a very pleasant conversation.  They are a great candidate, easy to talk to, and very agreeable.  They ask the right questions and give the right answers.  They are a great match geographically, their skill sets are spot on, they are in the salary range and they are immediately available to interview.  You set up the interview, they nail the interview, and two weeks later they come onboard.  Just like that, you’ve made the placement and performed your job flawlessly.  Depending on how you are compensated, you’ve either earned your salary or increased your commission – but either way you’ve taken a step forward in your career.  Piece of cake!  Anyone could do this job, right?

Then there is the bad luck that plays a role in the success of our careers.  You know these days all too well, perhaps even better than you know the good luck days.  You get into the office early, as always.  You check your voicemails, emails and applications.  Same old updates, nothing new for you.  You spend the day reaching out to your networks, fishing the job boards, and hunting for the right candidate.  You’re good at your job, so eventually you identify a few potential candidates for the opening(s) you’re working on.  After calling them you end up disqualifying the majority of them because they aren’t interested, aren’t qualified, or aren’t committed.  You find the one candidate who is the right match and you submit them to your hiring manager.  Feedback from your manager reaches you three, four or five days later that the job description has changed and you’re looking for a different type of skill sets.  You have to apologize to the job seeker and do your best to maintain your reputation with them – even though you’ve seemingly just wasted their time.  You begin your searches all over again, you find a qualified candidate and you get them interviewed.  Finally the hiring manager asks for you to extend the offer and the candidate decides to play hardball with you.  The salary they committed to when you initially screened them has now jumped up $20K, and they want to talk about improving those benefits you’re offering as well.  Or perhaps they’re ok with the salary and benefits, but when you submit them for a drug and background check they end up failing the pre-employment screening for a reason they didn’t disclose during your initial conversations with them.  Now you have to apologize to the hiring manager for seemingly wasting their time.  There are countless examples of things not going well for recruiters that are attributed to bad luck.  Depending on how you are compensated, you’re either scrambling to find a way to prove you’re worth your salary or your commission has gone down and you’re praying you find a way to make rent that month.  Why would anyone take a recruiting job that is so dependant on luck?

I’ll admit that throughout my recruiting career I’ve had some great days and some down right awful days.  But I would argue that luck has absolutely nothing to do with my success or lack thereof.  I would further argue that as recruiters our career is not impacted by luck at all.  I’m a huge Frank Sinatra fan, and although he has a song or two about luck, he doesn’t really view it as having an impact on his success.  I think his quote regarding luck sums things up perfectly: “People often remark that I’m pretty lucky.  Luck is only important in so far as getting the chance to sell yourself at the right moment.  After that, you’ve got to have talent and know how to use it.”  I think that is a brilliant way to look at luck – especially as recruiters.

During those days where everything seems to go our way and success comes easily, it’s not because of good luck.  It’s because we set ourselves up for success.  We have built extensive networks and have built strong relationships.  We have sharpened our recruiting tools.  We’ve built great relationships with our hiring managers and HR.  We have built great rapport with job seekers.  By treating job seekers with respect, we have earned their trust.  In turn they refer their family members and friends to us, and our professional network grows.  We aren’t brand new at this, and we realize that even though we have one candidate identified for an opening, we need to have a backup candidate ready to go.  We are successful because we deliberately take actions to be successful on a daily basis.  And on the days where nothing goes right, and where it seems like we can’t win, we have to take a deeper look at our efforts.  Sure, it’s easy to blame something as trivial as luck for our lack of success.  We can complain about our bad luck and point to that as the reason we’re not having success.  However, it’s much harder to look at our daily routines and our overall effort and pinpoint where we are slacking.  It’s not easy to identify our own shortcomings as the reasons we aren’t having success.

Recruiting is not an easy job, and we all know that.  I once had a boss who said “if recruiting was easy, a lot of doctors and lawyers would be recruiters.”  Now, I don’t think my boss was suggesting that being a recruiter is any harder than being a doctor or a lawyer, but it takes a lot of hard work and determination to become a successful recruiter and earn the big paychecks.  To be a successful recruiter you have to work at it constantly.  You have to build relationships on a daily basis and you have to work with a sense of urgency.  You have to have a passion for your work.  If you do that, you’ll have all the luck in the world.  If you sit back and wait for luck to play a role in your success…well then…good luck!


Please send any questions or comments to  Be sure to also follow me on Twitter @RecruiterMann23

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