In today's economy, it's clear that it's an employer's market. So many qualified candidates are flooding the market for a finite number of jobs.
Having returned to the world of job searching after an unexpected layoff, I've recently experienced the "other side" of the recruiting process, unlike the side I've enjoyed over my 10+ years as a Corporate & Contract Recruiter. I've become painfully aware of some of the areas in which recruiters fail to leave positive images in the job seeker's mind of both the brand and the recruiting professional.
Let's be clear - as a juggler of 60 full cycle requisitions at times, I completely understand that hiring managers, internal meetings, and tightly crammed schedules typically overflow a busy recruiter's desk. But the bottom line remains that recruiting is a service, and we need PEOPLE to fill those positions. Consequently, how we treat people, whether we think we need them or not, is a reflection of the organization we represent. My time as a job hunter has opened my eyes to ways I can improve once I'm back on the "power" side of the interview desk.
1. Value the candidate's time. Recruiters are inundated with applicants in their Applicant Tracking System (ATS) queues, often receiving 200 submissions in the first few days of a recruitment. Even still, I can carve out 15 minutes each day to reconcile statuses and generate correspondence. For those candidates who are clearly off the mark, I will notify them within 48-72 hours of their submissions. For those candidates that I am hoping to move forward with, I will contact them just as swiftly to start the process. Furthermore, before I make that first touch base, I will be sure to have a timeline in mind so I can communicate to them the realities of the process.
2. Keep my word. This is a big one! I, too, have said to candidates "I'll follow up by X-day," and failed to follow through. Now, as a candidate, and knowing how important each step in the process is to someone looking for work, I understand how pivotal it is for the recruiter to make reasonable statements around follow-up and stick to it. Recently, I flew 1,000 miles to an employer's headquarters, interviewed with 9 people, and was told I would hear back in 5 days regarding next steps. It's been a month and I have not even received an e-mail saying, "Hey, we're moving a little more slowly on this one than anticipated, give me a few weeks to follow up." (Or, "You sucked, we're going with someone else.") How hard is that to type and send? For those candidates who I know won't move forward after an interview, I will aim to close them out within a week AT MOST (not four months, as one large employer did with me).
3. Be transparent. Never have I relied on the honesty (and kindness) of others so much than during my recent job search. For those final round candidates who cross my path and are close contenders, I will be forthright and share feedback with them in their close out correspondence (whether phone or email). A technique I learned while teaching students some years ago was the "compliment sandwich" feedback method - P/N/P - two positive statements around a needs improvement statement. For example, "The hiring managers were impressed with your technical savvy, but felt your leadership experience was somewhat underdeveloped. They are confident that with your dedicated work ethic, you will soon make progress in that area."
I'm pretty sure some recruiters are thinking, "I do NOT have time to do all of that!" I understand. And neither will I! But I will make time. Just like a parent knows that after a grueling 10-hour work day and hellish commute, they will need to prepare dinner, help with homework, clean up, put the kids to bed, and STILL have a smile and loving word for their spouse at the end of the night. I am convinced that my extra effort will make the difference in the candidate's experience.
And if you think I'm being overly sensitive about how candidates feel about their experiences in today's market, check out these articles.
Ciao for now!
Maisha Cannon is a Senior Recruiter and Researcher committed to introducing employers to talent that will enhance and grow their businesses. Over the span of her 15 year career in Human Resources, Maisha has filled over 1,000 positions, and has coached hundreds of candidates on resume writing, interviewing skills, and career planning. She spends her free time blogging, engrossed in social media, and singing along to the thousands of songs in her iPod.