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Jan 6, 2022

It’s important to be open and upfront. Personally I take a lot of pride in candidate experience. I consider it one of my calling cards and it is of utmost importance to me. I have left a job because I inadvertently recruited several people into roles that they were fired from through no fault of their own. I just no longer believed in the product I was selling. 

Point is, when you look at how someone’s life has changed, either for better or for worse, due to a job you were the recruiter on, it should impact you on some level. This is part of why we are recruiters, isn’t it?

You’d like to think so, but this year I’ve had numerous experiences that provided a horrible candidate experience to me. I’ve been in recruiting for 17 years and have come to expect some poor candidate experience stories with more junior recruiters. 

Except, the sad part is that these experiences I have had recently are all with very senior, high-level executive recruiters and TA leaders. It’s so disappointing. I wanted to share my stories so that hopefully a few others take notice. Please don’t be yet another recruiter that gives recruiting a bad name.

Scenario 1

I was contacted by a VP of talent acquisition for a large tech company in San Francisco. He was looking for someone to lead his sales recruiting efforts. Sales and executive-level recruiting are my specialties, so we set up a call for a certain day and time. 

After logging in for a video conversation and waiting for 10 minutes, I checked my email. He had sent me an email exactly two minutes prior to our meeting saying something had come up and he’d need to reschedule. 

OK, life happens.

After two weeks of no contact, I sent him an email saying I was a little disappointed that we hadn’t been able to have a call but hoped everything was OK in his world. He responded a few days later, apologized, and we set another meeting, which we had and it was a nice robust conversation. He said he was highly interested in keeping the conversation going and he’d be back in touch in a couple of days with next steps. 

Take a wild guess as to what happened. No surprise. Nothing happened. Never heard anything.

Scenario 2

I was contacted by a senior recruiter about an opportunity that looked interesting enough to have a 30-minute call about. We agreed on a day and time for an introduction call. That day and time came and went and I never heard from the recruiter. She then left me a message at 6:45 the next morning that said, “I was calling for our scheduled phone interview. If something has come up, call back and we can reschedule.” 

This was the day after our scheduled call and at a completely different time. Nonetheless, I called her later that morning and left her a message. She then called me the following day with a message that said, “It seems you’ve been unable to make either of our scheduled times. If you are still interested in the position, call or email me to set up a time to talk.” 

This being after she completely missed the scheduled date and time of our call.

I did find the VP of HR’s email and sent her a note letting her know about my experience. Her response was that they were looking to add this senior TA role to their team because they’d been so busy. Guess what? That’s not a good excuse for an incredibly poor candidate experience. Who would want to work for a company like that? Are potential candidates supposed to answer the phone at any time of the day or night and be ready to have a phone interview? 

Scenario 3

An executive recruiter at a large competitor contacted me for an executive recruiter role. As I was familiar with this company and have friends who work there, I thought, Why not? Let’s have a conversation. 

We did and it went swimmingly. The executive recruiter with whom I’d spoken had 30 years of recruiting experience and told me how she’d recruited most of the executive recruiting team. After an hour of great dialogue, she told me that she’d love to have me talk to her boss as a next step. I let her know I’d be happy to do that and to let me know what days and times worked for her manager. 

A week came and went. Then another week. So I called and left her a message. Three days later I followed up with an email. 

The response I got back? Nothing, I never heard back. 

Again, this is a very senior level executive recruiter who contacted me, then ghosted me after our initial call. Does she not care about her reputation or the experience she provides?

Scenario 4

I was contacted for an executive recruiter role by another executive recruiter at a Fortune 50 company. After my initial conversation with him, I proceeded to speak to seven other individuals over hour-long scheduled video calls that took place over two months. 

After the final meeting I sent the original recruiter a note thanking him, to which he replied he’d be in touch next week. 

Well, as you can probably guess, next week came and went. And then another week. Finally during the third week, I called and left him a message checking in. Later that afternoon, he called back and left a message saying he was available for the next two hours. 

About 45 minutes later I called him back and left another message. One hour after that I received an email that said, “While we all enjoyed meeting you, the team ultimately decided to go with another candidate that had more industry experience”.

Seriously? After investing 10 hours of time and meeting with eight people over the course of two months, you dispose of me with an email? Who does that, especially in executive recruiting?

Sadly, way too many people in our profession.

Look my fellow recruiters, it’s not rocket science. Treat others as you want to be treated. It’s really that easy. The recruiting system in general kind of sucks and it’s our job to make it better. Don’t make it worse by poor to no communication. Here are a few things to do to provide solid candidate experience:

  • Be true to your word. If you say you’re going to call someone at a certain time, then do it. If you say you’ll update them on the job next week, do it. Do what you say you’re going to do.
  • Keep communication open. Tell people about the good, the bad, and the ugly about a role. Don’t hide things. Never put people into a situation without their eyes open.
  • Don’t ghost. Why is this even still a thing? Who or what made it OK simply to stop responding to people?
  • Use the phone. If someone has had even one interview with your company and you decide to move forward with another candidate, pick up the phone and tell them. It’s the respectful thing to do.
  • Practice the golden rule. As a general rule of thumb, always think of the golden rule. Treat others as you want to be treated. It’s just that simple.

The bottom line is that there are far too many recruiters who treat candidates poorly. This ranges from the brand new recruiters to very senior ones. 

The good news is that you can easily differentiate yourself from most of the herd out there by making candidate experience a top priority for you. It is also very good for your reputation. And at the end of the day, your reputation should be a source of pride and joy to you. If it isn’t, do something about it. Don’t be someone that gives recruiting a bad name. 

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