Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Most Serious Complaint I Hear Most About Recruiters And Some Solutions

There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t hear the same complaint from candidates at all levels. Here is a quote from an email I recently received. “About a month ago, a senior talent recruiter for a major [advertising] holding company reached out to me. We had a great conversation.  Said [sic] I’m perfect to lead a global engagement.  Then not even an email or phone call. Nothing.   Is that typical?  If so why do they do that?”

Candidates who interview and never hear back are all too common.  Often this happens, even when next steps are spelled out.  It is a terrible thing to have a good meeting just go into a black hole.

In terms of this issue, I don’t fully have the answer, but I can guess at the reasons this person and many others like him just never hear back.  My thoughts apply to both corporate recruiters as well as outside recruiters like myself.  I don’t believe anyone is intentionally rude, but many don’t know better and are overwhelmed by their workloads and work pressures.  It is easy to drop the ball on candidates when two days has gone by and they have seen a dozen other people and have gotten five or seven new jobs to fill and they have attended six meetings.

Many talent recruiters are seeing far too many people every day – maybe four, six or more candidates a day.  Add to that paperwork and meetings and there is no time left for niceties. However, many bring it upon themselves because they don’t know how to end a meeting.

I am no pillar of virtue, but I manage the expectations of my candidates by telling them at the end of an interview that I will only contact them if and when I have an appropriate opportunity.  I also encourage them to call me any time and I always make time to return their calls.  It is up to the recruiter to manage perceptions of themselves and their company.  Just a few minutes a day can resolve this issue.  One trick for busy recruiters is to return calls when the chances are good that a call will go into voice mail – before 9am, during lunch, etc.  They can be thanked for calling and can receive a message with any status.  That often does the trick. And it leaves the candidate feeling that they have a responsive contact.

I have often believed that it is easy enough to have a subordinate call or send an email to follow up.  That call or email merely has to say the candidate is top of mind and that we will get back as soon as possible.  Also, in this day and age of Outlook and similar programs, it is so easy to program in a follow up call and send a personalized form email.

As in the case of the person quoted in the first paragraph, the recruiter didn’t say if there was anything available, but was trying to say that he/she liked the candidate, without being specific about a job.  After interviewing, recruiters need to recognize that people have selective hearing, so choosing words carefully is important. Being specific can save aggravation and time later. Next steps need to be spelled out and if there are no next steps, the candidate needs to be told so. Why have a candidate follow up and not receive a response; the candidate will only get frustrated and think ill of the company and the person he or she saw.   

I do some corporate lecturing and I remind recruiters, HR people and others who interview candidates that they may be the only person a candidate ever meets from their company.  How they comport themselves and how they treat their candidates is the way people will form an opinion of the entire company. Managing perceptions is really important.


  1. Hertz came to the conclusion that the only people you come in contact with are the bus drivers who take you to your car and the folks who check your license and, therefore, trained them.......Hmmmmm.

  2. Being in active search mode I can't really name names or companies, but the lack of responsiveness is astounding. A simple email indicating either receipt of a note or call, or advising the status is all it would take. Or, as you say, leaving a voicemail.

    Anything is better than the black hole...


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