Have you ever sat in front of your recruiter of choice when they have missed a deadline? Does your current recruiter even have a deadline they are working to? Who sets that deadline? If you have sat together after a shortlisting or interview deadline has been missed, what reaction do you get? Are you forced to listen to the long list of excuses as to why they have not delivered? Have you ended the meeting having compromised from your end with no compromise from theirs?

I ask because I have heard this conversation too many times in my recruitment career.

Firstly, to any recruiters reading this, I know, sometimes compromise is needed by ‘the client’ to improve their attractiveness, however we both know that is not always the case. What I do believe is, this compromise must be mutual, and it must come with a level of responsibility from your recruiter.

Only last week I was sat in front of one of our partners who have been struggling to recruit, they are understandably feeling the ‘pain’ of missing a senior Product manager in their organisation. They cannot compromise any further, we have worked on that already, the meeting was to work together on an attraction model and targeting plan. During the meeting my client was at pains to explain the pressure and pain this missing person is having on their Chief Product Officer, and on the organisation.

My response was ‘I know, I feel it too’.

In-fact I feel something even worse at times, I feel the guilt.

The guilt that I should be making my clients pain go away, and right now I am not. The guilt that working in partnership and explaining that what my client is looking for will not be a quick fix. That it will take time. This plays on my mind every day, and being honest most nights.

The guilt is there until the job is done.

That is where we are different, that is where I am different. Yes, I was sharing my client’s pain at our recent meeting, it was painful to hear, but I was still sat there. Still sat there with as much enthusiasm to recruit this role as we started with, filled with determination to stop that pain and to successfully complete the project. I took ownership over the length that this piece of recruitment may take, because ultimately, I want to get it right.

This is what stands us apart, this is working in partnership is.

The guilt is not easy to bare. When you care, when you connect on a level which means you are going through the journey with your clients. You feel the pain just as much as they do. We might interchange the label client at times, but that is just old habits dying hard. These are not clients; they are my partners.

So, this is where we are right now, at the start of February 2022. What do I think the future will bring? The guilt is going to continue if anything it could get worse. When starting out we were determined to shortlist every role we brought on in SEVEN days. The ‘7-day shortlist meeting’ as we originally called it, and you know what, we smashed that standard out the park for just shy of NINE months.

That ambition remains, but the reality is fast changing, 7 days is becoming 10 days more and more, and I fear it may stretch further from there. Does this mean we are not pulling our weight in the partnership? Absolutely not. This is the market we are working in. The only way to live with the guilt is to manage expectations and work with honesty. The interaction and response from the active and passive market has dropped significantly since December 2020. I repeatedly speak with candidates who are contacted over 10 times a day by recruiters, some real, some fake, some robots. Automation is really changing the face of recruitment, and I must admit I am not sure it’s for the better right now.

Our contact however does get through, and our approach works, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that it is being diluted by the volume of outreach in the jobs market. We are lucky, our network and communities are strong, and we have the ability and reputation to connect with some of the best people in the market. Our recommendations remain high, our community is thriving and buzzing with expertise, however these things are not quick solutions. They take time.

Will the guilt end? I am not sure. I tell myself the ‘7 day shortlist meeting’ will return, and it’s that hope which I will remove the burden of guilt.

You know what they say though; ‘it’s the hope that kills you!’

This article was written by Adrienne Howlett, Co-Founder and Product Partner at Digital 51. Adrienne can be found enduring sleepless nights and busy days on if you would like to reach out and tell Adrienne your thoughts on this article.