Branding/Marketing/PR Magazine

How mumbo jumbo is killing recruitment’s reputation

Written by the Editorial Team

By Paul MacKenzie-Cummins


Mitch Sullivan is a recruiter. That’s the title he has on his LinkedIn profile because that’s what he does. He’s not a specialist in the intersection of work and technology, nor is he leveraging unparalleled industry expertise to form a perfect marriage between clients and candidates (these are both actual job descriptions used by recruiters).

Short of holding him up as some sort of trendsetter, it does seem that Mitch’s cut-the-bull-and-just-say-what-you-do approach is being taken up by an increasing number of other recruiters who are shunning those descriptions that quite frankly leave most of us utterly baffled as to what they actually mean.

If you received a CV and the candidate described their role in the way that we outlined in the introduction to this article, you would be none the wiser as to what they do. In fact, you would probably hit the Trash button whilst uttering the words ‘pompous arse.’ Quite right, too.

But where did we ever get the idea that such descriptions were a good idea? It’s Google’s fault…oh and Steve Jobs too.

Type the words ‘how to create a great LinkedIn profile’ into Google and the results generated will be full of “How to create a killer LinkedIn profile” or “Write a headline that rocks” articles – invariably written by:

  1. People who have clearly never used LinkedIn professionally and have probably had to find the answer themselves by searching on Google
  2. Self-professed ‘Best-selling authors’ whose books you have never read largely because they were self-published or have been discontinued on Amazon due to them being quite simply crap, and
  3. So-called LinkedIn ‘experts’ who sell their services as headline writers (baffling that people are stupid enough to pay anything to these people)

Where it has all gone terribly wrong is that too many recruiters have taken the advice being offered a step too far and towards the extreme with some people seemingly getting drunk on Steve Jobsisms.

That love what you do speech has served as a rallying call for many recruiters to join together in a collective wave of determination to prove to potential clients that they are passionate about what they do.

In doing so, they believe that that will seduce their prospects to work with them. Yet all they are doing is demonstrating that they really have no understanding of what motivates HR people in the first place…and bollocks doesn’t enter into the equation.

Prior to working in PR I sold recruitment advertising back in the 1990s and early 2000s for the likes of and and my clients were also HRM’s and HRDs.

I still work HR departments today on their employer branding and I have yet to meet a HR who would be taken in by the diatribe spouted by too many recruiters on LinkedIn.

If you are to adapt your job title, just say what you do. For instance, if you are an Associate Consultant at a search firm you could add ‘Helping FTSE-100 firms secure the executive talent they need.’ This clearly states what you do and is remiss of any unwanted hyperbole that could – will – negatively impact in your personal brand that of the agency you represent.

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, said: “Be able to be found. Think of what people will search for when they are looking for someone who does what you do.” And he’s right.

As the old adage goes, keep it simple stupid (KISS). When searching for candidates on LinkedIn do you use words such as leveraging, driven, passionate or rock stars? Of course you don’t because that’s not what they do, so don’t include these in your profile.

In other words, practice what you preach.

Am I being a tad cynical? Perhaps. But as a PR agency for the recruitment and HR industry, it is our job to manage the reputation of the clients we work with and to ensure that that are perceived in the right way by the right people.

Your brand, both as a business and an individual, represents an expectation of what you will deliver for your customers and the experience they will have when they do business with you. So ask yourself a question, would you engage with someone who uses such descriptions?

To become an attractive proposition to a potential client you need to clearly (no pun intended) articulate what you are all about. The second you lose sight of this is the moment that your prospects will click to view the next recruiter profile and if they like what they see, the decision over who to contact become clearly (pun very much intended) obvious.

The most over-used buzzwords on LinkedIn are:

  1. Specialised
  2. Leadership
  3. Passionate
  4. Strategic
  5. Experienced
  6. Focused
  7. Expert
  8. Certified
  9. Creative
  10. Excellent

In 2016, Specialised’ has replaced ‘Leadership’ as the most used term, while ‘Passionate’ moved up to become the third most overused buzzword worldwide. At number five, ‘Experienced’ became a new entry to this year’s top 10.