When the Candidate asks..."Why didn't you call me?

Some days, don't you wish you could just say it out loud?  When the company business is hopping, and things get hyper busy, time becomes a rare commodity. Time is golden. One day, I had one of those candidates that was extremely persistant (I have caller ID, they really did call 4-5 times in one day), and it took alot of energy not to respond in a fashion that would have probably cause trouble with my boss.  Let me share the scenario:

The Candidate: "Why didn't you call me"? "I applied to your position, I followed up with three phone calls, an email, and I still haven't heard word from anyone." “The least you can do is call me...”

Me: At this point, is there really an answer I can give that won't get me fired?   I have about 30 seconds or my schedule is off for the rest of the day.  I am tempted.

In my imagination this is what I would say: " Well, candidate, let’s take a look at my day. I have 10 different hiring managers who all believe their opening should come first, and I have 45 interviews to schedule, two new job descriptions to write, an offer to negotiate, and about 200 new resumes to review, including yours. I will get through reading all 200 resumes. Yes, I really did scan through them all. I forward to the hiring manager the top 20 out of that group, and wait to get some feedback. They decided they want to speak with about six of those. (That part alone could take days, by the way) Unless you made that top six, you are probably not going to hear from me, at least not directly. You might get one of those generic emails from the Applicant Tracking system generated when your resume was turned down, or not selected for that particular role. At the pace I am going, if I actually called the other 194 resumes that were not selected at this point, I would have to work the next seven hours straight, just getting on the phone, or typing an email.

"This is a picture of a typical day, in the typical life of a corporate recruiter. This is just a snapshot. Now, let's do a little more math. Now, imagine if you will I am also working on 30 other positions with anywhere from 20 to 200 resumes to read per posting”.

"You wondered why I didn't call you back. I tell you this, "If you are selected to move forward and there is an interest in your resume at that time, I will most certainly be calling you." Otherwise, in my world, on any given day, you are right; I did not or probably will not be calling you back”.

Instead, I just simply have to say, "Thank you for your interest. I see that the manager has decided to pursue other candidates at this time..."

What would you say?

Views: 5147

Comment by Angela Yu on March 27, 2013 at 2:38pm

Thanks Kimberly for the great articulation of a corporate recruiter's daily challenge! The flood of candidates to sort through is overwhelming and frustrating. Making smart use of technology (like the automated ATS notifications) can help, but it's important to edit the automated email templates so they have a personal touch, because applicants won't feel satisfied with an obvious form email. Have you tried using more natural language in the ATS email templates? Maybe that would help reduce the number of "persistent callers".

Comment by KKenner on March 27, 2013 at 4:15pm

@Amy, If I could I would hire her in a minute. But alas...But thank you! What a great way for her to learn the business! 

Comment by KKenner on March 27, 2013 at 4:24pm

I love talking to candidates, they usually make my day. @ Jody, doing the recruiting thing, seeking out new talent, keeping them warm and interested, keeping in touch for future opportunities, making great matches are all the best parts of recruiting. I don't blame candidates for my busy days, or even my super slow days for that matter. I love the game of course, the balancing act, and winning. On that particular day that I shared, and have shared it before, at that particular moment, I could only see the game peices, and lost sight of the prize. I am human. It happens!  lol..darn it!  This is a great group, you have great ideas!

Comment by Amber on March 27, 2013 at 6:39pm

Kimberly, some people jumped out of the gate with negativity because all they saw was that you didn't call someone back - which was not really the whole picture as clarified throughout the discussion. And I cannot imagine that there is anyone, anywhere that never,ever neglected to call someone back (or didn't receive a resume/application/message that had been sent -  thereby not responding) in their entire career. In the case that you were writing about the person got an automated reply. Yeah, I know they are not the 100% ideal method to respond BUT at least a candidate knows there information got to where it was sent.

I was on the "other side of the desk" a few years ago. And yes, I wish I had heard back from more people then I did but it was rare. I did prefer to at least get an automated response. And I was applying for positions that I had the qualifications for. 

Comment by Theresa C Aimone on March 27, 2013 at 8:40pm

as a recruiter, and the wife of a candidate, I see both sides of this argument. I agree that it takes time to "answer" an applicant, but as the wife of an applicant, I understand how horrible it is to sit and wait... and wait... and wait... I tell my husband to "follow up.. the recruiter will appreciate how you set yourself apart" cuz I know I would appreciate the extra effort.. the extra effort in following-up with a recruiter means the candidate will make an extra effort in his/her job.. so I will say that I believe the recruiter may be the one at fault here. Even if you don't respond to "every" candidate, you should certainly respond to a candidate who repeatedly calls/emails. This shows follow-up and and a great amount of interest and character. Many folks now-a-days don't even remember applying for the job when you call them, so to have someone target your company is something I take into consideration. Part of the job description of a recruiter is following up with candidates who are NOT a fit.. even if it takes time.. this part is also relationship building which could accelerate a hire in the future.. 

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on March 27, 2013 at 8:58pm

re: the candidates who repeatedly follow up via email / phone - there's a fine line between follow up and stalking, OK?? I appreciate the "extra effort" crowd, but there's a way to communicate with recruiters that shows initiative yet doesn't dump the job seekers' problems squarely into the recruiter's lap. I am in the middle of counseling a job seeker (NOT for my company, something completely "on the side" and free) who can't seem to grasp that the recruiter isn't responsible for finding her a job. Instead she's pissed off that her "follow up" has only netted her short but polite emails saying she just doesn't fit the qualifications. But the recruiter's the bad guy here. Ok, I get it.

Comment by Gordon Alderson on March 27, 2013 at 9:12pm

Have you had at least their names and mobile (cell) phone numbers entered into a database?  If so send text messages to candidates to tell them where they stand. It's so quick, can be done bulk and is instantaneous at the candidate end. Tell those remaining in contention that they must send a timely reply to confirm their continuing interest their name will be removed from the "Still in contention" list.

But far more important - You need to get the Hiring Manager and the Final Decision Maker on board before you start. Sending frenetically busy Hiring Managers 20 resumes to review and then giving them 6 interviews to do is, in my view, not recruiting. That's throwing candidates at the wall to see which of them stick.

When we get clients to put the Job Description to one side and have them individually go through a quick (less than 20 minute) on-line detailed briefing system that delivers THEIR (plural) Combined Selection Grid we can dramatically speed up the recruiting and selection processes AND deliver quality. 

With a client-team generated Selection Grid you can quickly construct a job-specific Skill & Background Profile Form that, when sent to better candidates for them to complete and return, you have a secondary culling tool. Now you, as a recruiter have far fewer interviews to do.

This process ensures that all candidates know that we genuinely care about them instead of thrashing around with an illogical time-gobbling process. You'll never get a "Why didn't you call me" call (another time-waster).

Clients come to appreciate how professional we are at picking out great candidates who do not waste their own time nor our clients’ time. Fewer than 4 interviews for every (quality) person hired.

Hiring Managers are delighted because Final Decision Makers bought in at the beginning.  Now the FDM cannot surprise and frustrate the Hiring Manager, the selected candidate and the recruiter.

This process works at all levels – from Presidents International to Construction Workers.

Fifteen years’ experience confirms that “Recruit with The End Defined” works.

Comment by Amber on March 27, 2013 at 9:19pm

Maybe I'm reading more into the comments following the original post, but it seemed that this was a candidate who applied for a position, got an automated response at some point, but was not in the interview process? If so, I think the automated response was sufficient. 

And Theresa, I'm sure you don't tell him that he should call and email repeatedly someone. That is not standing out in a good way, lol!

Comment by Daren J. Mongello on March 27, 2013 at 9:33pm

@Gordon: in many many corporate environments ...throwing slates of candidates to hiring managers is SOP.
I will tell you that some postings can get 600 applicants for sales in a DAY. You can NOT possibly respond to each candidates....other than the automated message. You cherry pick and forward the best in the litter and move on to the next role.....cause you have 50 OTHER open roles that need to be filled. You, as the recruiter, on the bottom of the corporate HR rung are really not in the position to say...."hey.....this is not working." You do what you are told and move on to the next position.

It's ridiculous and honestly ... it does not even qualify as "recruiting".
This is also the reason why there will always be 3rd party: we actually recruit.
Corporate recruiters get the best applicant....3rd party recruiters get the best candidate. :) 

Comment by Jody Dugan on March 28, 2013 at 8:35am

Hi Kimberly. Wow!  You are getting great responses to your article!  I just want to clarify my previous statement.  I wasn't suggesting that you were playing the "Blame Game".  I was referencing applicants pointing fingers at recruiters for not keeping the communication open when, often times, they lack the qualifications of the job at hand.


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