Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Standing Up A Recruiter

People missing appointments is part of business.  It is annoying and costly. That is why your doctor calls to confirm appointments.  Restaurants do the same so that their tables don’t go vacant.

When I first started recruiting, I was appalled at the number of no-shows.  As I became better known, the percentage went down, but it still happens.  Three times last week, which is unusual, but why I am writing this post.  The truth is, when it happens during the daytime – between nine and noon or between two and five – I don’t mind so much.  I just keep working.  But when it happens before nine, especially when I have come in early to meet someone, or during lunch or after five, I get aggravated because those are prime interviewing times and someone else could have come in.  It is especially irksome when it happens at six or later because it means I have stayed late waiting for someone.

Late appointments (after 5pm)  get cancelled at the last minute all the time.  I fully understand, but I don’t forgive.  Once upon a time I was a working account guy.  And, come four or five in the afternoon, everyone starts rushing to complete the day’s work so it doesn’t get put off until tomorrow.  When it comes to outside appointments, I understand what happens – inertia takes over.  So does social life.  And seeing a recruiter is not always the top priority, even when people are unhappy in their jobs.  But that doesn't excuse simply not showing up or only calling ten minutes before the appointment.

Years ago, a friend of mine, not in the business, asked me a fair question.  He said, “Who in their right mind would stand up a recruiter?  I understand cancelling on your doctor for a routine appointment, but you could influence their whole life.”  I fully agreed.  But many people simply look at a recruiter as a temporary solution to a current problem.  Others are just plain rude and uncaring.  They don't see us as a trusted long-term adviser. 

In 2008, I called to meet a candidate.  He stood me up twice without a call.  About a week ago, he called me to meet.  He missed his first appointment but emailed an apology and rescheduled.  Then he missed the second appointment with no phone call and no email. Of course, he is completely off my list and it is noted in my records.  Despite his seniority in the business, I cannot believe that he has the excellence that his title or position would indicate.

I understand that people get called into last minute meetings. Or bosses demand that someone stay at their desk through lunch.  And I know that clients call.  It happens.  But no phone call or email?  No explanation or apology?  I wrote about fear in the business a while ago.  It is pervasive.  Who would ever preclude a subordinate from making a phone call to cancel an appointment?  And if they did, or if things were so intense that one cannot dare to excuse themselves for a minute, who would want to work for that person or in that kind of environment? 

Anyway, now that I have vented.  Here is my question.  What if I were to bill candidates for my time when they stand me up?


  1. I would absolute bill them. It's one thing to have something come up days/weeks ahead of scheduled appointment, but last minute? If it's important enough to cancel an appointment with a recruiter at the last minute, it's important enough that the cost is negligible.

    And on a side note, that's so rude of people to not show and not at least make a call informing you.

  2. Some people barely have their shit together when held in place by the exoskeleton of a day job. Without it, they completely fall apart. They probably need shrinks more than they need recruiters. A good shrink will charge them for the missed session every time.

    And of course some people are just rude assholes.

    I applaud you, Paul, for striking a blow for simple human decency.

  3. People are amazing creatures, especially in today's world, where the ability to send a passive cancellation (sic "apology") is never beyond the palm of your hand. I guess I'll just agree with Mark's option B above.

    Billing them is appropriate, but you'll have as much luck with that as getting them to show up! :)

  4. Painfully true Paul. Regrettably, it's perhaps worse in the consultative arena where many B level clients treat one like a vendor anyway.

  5. Pretty amazing. Blowing-off a recruiter without any explanation at all would scare the hell out of me. It's a small world out there and it's not worth pissing people off.

  6. Hi Paul,

    Being stood up happens. I have learned to put it in the best light with a candidate the first time as we are all human. There are times that I have gotten my calendar wrong or my client has done the same, I give the candidate the benefit of the doubt.

    Also, there have been times that a candidate is in a meeting that has gone over and was unable to reach me, which is part of the business. Unlike my doctor where I am trying to get an appointment, most of my candidates are not actively looking and it is I who want them to see me.

    If, however, a candidate stands me up more than once and does not call me to tell me a second time then it is time to be concerned they will do that to my client. I would get much more upset that they do that with my client as it is a reflection on my judgment to send them.

    The candidate you referred to in 2008 did not seem to respect your time; that is the issue that is important here, a general lack of respect, not rescheduling. I would ask where else might their lack of respect show up in the work place?

    I find that there is more of a chance that I will be stood up by a candidate not actively looking than one who is. For those I have overlooked rescheduling more than once (as long as I got a call or apology), I probably created a good number of placements. Much more $ than I would get from those who would be billable, :-).

    Best Regards,

  7. Absolutely, bill them. I have walked out of Dr.'s offices after waiting 20-30 minutes and billed them for my time. A year ago, I walked out of a dentist's office after having been X- rayed and kept waiting, never to return. It is the height of rudeness not to respect a person's time. Nobody is more important than anyone else.

  8. The consensus is I bill. I may try it; I certainly won't expect to be paid, but the message will be sent.

    There are too many people who have no regard for others. I once had a recruiter who worked for me. She would make a plan to meet someone for dinner and make six or seven reservations ("How do I know what I will feel like eating next week?"). The problem was that she couldn't remember where she reserved and cancelled only if they called her to confirm. It drove me nuts because I thought it was rude and I hated having someone who was inherently uncaring working for me.

    Not keeping appointments is indicative of a person's personality. Barney, I too can forgive one. But when it is constant, I cannot. Just this week i had another person call to cancel twice, once just before an 8:30am meeting. I won't see him again.

  9. Slightly off topic (recruiters) but related; as a former media sales rep, I faced this often from rude and inconsiderate agency media staff. I had to take the time to visit their office, only to learn, "Oh, Jeff is on vacation this week."

    I didn't have the luxury of crossing them off my list, however, since they worked on business I was trying to win or service. And phone calls to them the following week rarely prompted an apology. Took a thick skin for that job!


I would welcome your comments, suggestions or anything you would like to share with me or my readers.

Creative Commons License