Conference room with meeting through glass walls

The Leader’s Voice: Quicksand

Working in recruitment or staffing has some wonderful rewards. There’s a great sense of value that we feel when presenting someone with a job offer. The joy in their voice, the smile you can hear, knowing that you’ve helped someone take a new step in their life can be reward enough. There is a great sense of accomplishment knowing that come Monday, someone who has been out of work for days, weeks, or months is waking up with a sense of purpose and direction that they might not have had days earlier.

While there is great reward as a recruiter, it does come with its frustrations. Most recruiters look at themselves as sales people.  We just have the luck of selling a product which walks, talks, and thinks. As a result, we quite often find ourselves asking ourselves what just happened. At one point or another, we’ve all felt like we’re in quicksand and slowly sinking.


We’ve all been here. Imagine the following scenario. This really happens and sometime it happens all at once.

  • Everything is going right. The candidate is set to start on Monday. You spoke to him yesterday. Everything looks good. Your phone rings at 3:30.  He tells you he was just offered another job, for more money, better benefits, and closer to home. There’s nothing you can do to convince him to start. He thanks you for all your help and hangs up.
  • You get an email from another candidate going in for a final interview. She tells you she’s decided to stay at her current job.
  • Your client calls, they didn’t like anyone you sent them and want to see more people. You were banking on one of them making it through to the next round.
  • Three people have canceled interviews to come in and meet with you.
  • It goes on and on like this.  Your day and your week continues to go from bad to worse. You’re caught in quicksand, no matter how great everything was going. You begin to feel like you are being pulled down. You’re not sure what to do next. The more you fight it, the deeper you sink. You begin to panic and you can’t move, because you feel like you’re in over your head.

Stop…Breathe…Don’t Panic

I’ve been recruiting for over 15 years. I’ve seen both the highs and the lows. I’ve seen experienced recruiters crumble when things don’t go according to plan. Similarly, I’ve seen recruiters early in their careers assess a situation and rise out of it like a phoenix. The best thing you can do is to stop, breathe, and don’t panic. Chances are, you have done nothing wrong and if you begin to overthink everything you are going to make errors as you endeavor to climb out of the quicksand.

Those that have the ability to rise to the challenge understand there are many factors in recruitment that are just completely out of our hands. Trying to convince someone to take a job when they’re dead set against it is an uphill battle. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t fight.  Instead, it suggests that you need to plan the battle. Swinging your ax and praying that you hit something isn’t going to work. I often inform a candidate that I am not here to convince them to take the job. When they’re on the fence, I will ask them to talk to me about what they like or don’t like about the opportunity. Often they just need someone to talk through everything.  In my experience, the heavy handed approach usually won’t go your way.

Been There…Seen That

We need to remind ourselves that recruitment will always have its highs and its lows. Things aren’t always going to go our way. You’re going to have your turndowns, your fall-offs and your no-shows. The candidate whom you think is going to nail the interview might show up in sweatpants and a tank top (true story). There are going to be times when you question both humanity and this job…and that’s ok. We’ve all been there. The only way to pull yourself out of this is to return back to the fundamentals of recruitment.

Remind yourself that no matter what effort you put in, people are unpredictable and  might to do the unpredictable (like bringing their ferret to an interview…ok this never happened, but part of you could imagine that it did).  It’s also important to remind yourself that while these instances are disappointing, your client isn’t going to hold you responsible. While you think you’ve seen the worst recruiting has to offer, an HR Department has seen it all (e.g.,  having to fire someone on the kitchen staff for stealing an entire roast beef by placing it down their pants…True Story).

Lean to the Left…Lean to the Right

Finally, remember that you have allies in all of this. Look to your left, look to your right. Your team, your manager and the principals are all here to help. There isn’t one of us who can’t relate to what you’re going through. Sometimes just talking it through and approaching it from a different angle is all you need. Lean on your support system to help pull you through this. It’s what being part of a team is all about.

I assert that being a recruiter is a great job. As aforementioned, there will always be highs and lows. Additionally, there will always be moments where I shake my head to attempt to and understand what just happened. At the end of the day, I believe it’s all worth it. I know that this is a worthwhile job and a worthwhile place to work because I smile more than I frown. I continue to feel that I am making a difference.

I’ve felt the pull of quicksand at various points in my career. Sometimes the pull is subtle and goes away as quickly as it appears. Sometimes I feel paralyzed and that I am slowly drowning. What I’ve realized is that it’s ok to feel this way. I just refuse to allow it to cause me to lose focus. I will never allow it to prevent me from climbing out from whatever is holding me back. The best advice I can give you is don’t panic, evaluate what needs to be done, and reach out your hand to people on your team.  There will always be someone there to help pull you out.

About the Author:

07-Josh Albucker-profile pic

Joshua Albucker is the Senior Vice President with PRIDE Health. He has been with PRIDE Health since its inception in 2010. He oversees the direct hire team for PRIDE Health. Josh’s core focus is in mid to C-Level healthcare clinicians and administrators in the healthcare sector. His core clients consist of larger hospital systems, national home care agencies, and managed care companies.

Prior to joining PRIDE, Josh spent almost 8 years with the Tuttle Agency as their Vice President of Healthcare Recruitment where he focused on recruiting all levels of healthcare staff. Josh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from the University of Wisconsin. He lives in Port Washington, New York with his wife and two daughters.