Last week I introduced you to a job seeker asking for advice on how to handle a “missing” recruiter. This candidate (I interviewed him – he’s good) was frustrated after following instructions and getting zip / zero / nada in response. Check out Part 1 here. My advice to our friend? Here’s a portion of the email response I sent –
“Here's what I would do. I would pull up a new Word doc. and I'd let that recruiter have it. I'd write a damn thesis about how screwed up their process is, how they've just lost a great candidate, that I'll be telling all my friends what a royally messed up outfit they are and that she was gonna rue the day she neglected ME!
Then I would delete it.
Even though your criticism is justified and would be welcomed by half the community, the other half is going to think you're a complainer. Even if they don't say anything publicly, in their minds they'll be circling the HR wagons and justifying every lack of follow up they've ever committed. It will still be *your* fault. Because see, if you're going to be so *argumentative* during the courting process, how difficult are you going to be if we actually hire you?
I'm not suggesting you don't address it in some fashion... perhaps the better approach to the LinkedIn group or wherever you were going to issue this challenge is to say "how can I be a better applicant, so that I'll ensure a response?" Here's the simple truth. You don't care if this particular recruiter responds to everyone. You just want her to respond to you.”
Isn’t that at the heart of what’s really wrong with the candidate experience? We put everyone into this big box; making ourselves all kinds of promises about how we’re going to treat everyone equally, fairly, kindly. It’s just not realistic. Back to our friend – I’m going to make some assumptions here, to try to understand what happened. Let’s assume the recruiter received 100 applications to a position. She asked 20 of them to fill out the questionnaire. 10 did (including our buddy) and she selected the top 5 to respond to. Let’s assume she does this for all 20 reqs she’s responsible for (as if I corporate recruiter would ever have only 20 reqs!). That leaves her with 100 active candidates she’s interviewing, presenting, scheduling with hiring managers… and another 100 that responded to the questionnaire and who are very likely (per our friend’s experience) to be ignored. That’s a constantly fluctuating number depending on several external factors – positions opening and closing, priority of requisitions, the list goes on. Once I painted this kind of picture for the job seeker, he actually felt sort of sorry for the recruiter!
We could Monday morning quarterback this to death. We don’t know the recruiter’s side, if there was any kind of disclaimer (not all respondents will be responded to, or something). She could be guilty of the same bad habit I have – flagging emails that need to be responded to, yet still taking days or even weeks to, well, yeah, actually respond.
In my opinion, no one here is the bad guy. We just need to try to understand each other better. To the job seeker, this process is intensely personal. This is their job, their career, their livelihood. For candidates struggling with long term unemployment, it’s almost impossible to not take any rejection or lack of response personal. To them it’s all personal.
A few weeks after our original email exchange, the job seeker called me to talk about another round of interviews he was doing for a different company. I asked about this situation, and he said he finally heard from the recruiter. Turns out the position was put on hold, but a similar role was going to open up soon and she wanted to know if he was still interested. There was no intentional disregard on her part; it just took a couple of weeks to have a “real” update for him. He was still interested, and last I heard they were keeping in touch periodically as things get sorted out on the employer side. Luckily he had already decided NOT to move forward with his manifesto. He simply needed to vent, and I’m glad he did privately, to me. He likes the recruiter again, and truly, his issue was never with her as a person or even as a professional – he was just feeling the stress of long term unemployment and letting his frustrations get the better of him.
The bigger issue here is the whole “candidate experience” fallacy. I have yet to meet a candidate who is more concerned about how potential employers treat the masses versus how they are treated themselves. You could call 20 candidates bad names, but the one that gets hired is going to love you. I can’t think of a job seeker who, having a personally pleasant experience would turn down a job offer if his competition was treated poorly (by candidate experience advocate standards).
This job seeker needed two things – he needed to vent (which he did quite effectively to me) and he needed me to validate what he already knew. The recruiter was probably just very busy and didn’t have an update yet. It was only a couple of weeks between him sending in his questionnaire and her call, letting him know the role was on hold. Some would say 2-3 weeks is way too long, but would it have made a difference if she had warned him ahead of time it would be a couple of weeks?
Exit question for the community – how do you communicate timelines and set expectations with candidates?