He Was the Best of Recruiters, He Was the Worst of Recruiters
Some Thoughts on the Frustrations of Being a Candidate
There is nothing like an out-of-the-blue phone call on an average Thursday afternoon to get you thinking about your employment situation.
This happened to me recently. Despite being comfortably employed, when my phone went off with an unknown number a few Thursdays back, I surprised myself by answering it.
Having spent an intensive 2 months earlier in the year searching for a new marketing job after a year-long sabbatical, I had become comfortable answering the random calls from people promising me an 'exciting opportunity' with an 'up-and-coming start-up' or 'well-established powerhouse'. All the phone calls start the same. "Its X calling from Y. I found your CV online...do you have a minute to chat?"
I had my elevator pitch down pat and finally felt comfortable talking about what I do, and with a few minutes up my sleeve, I agreed to chat. We spoke for 10 minutes. I rattled off my bit, he rattled off his. Within 10 minutes we were talking salaries and commutes (very important when you've moved to a big city from a little one, it seems). It felt like we hit it off and by the time I had returned to my desk, there was an email sitting there for me with more information about the role that might be suitable for me.
Quick to talk, quick to email, quick to get to numbers. This guy was just like all the others. The recruiters I've been working with here in the UK are fast-talking and I can only assume hard working. They seem to follow the mantra "Always Be Hustling" to the tee. On the whole, they're fun and engaging to talk with. They laugh at my jokes. They tell me how great I am for taking a sabbatical and exploring the world. They wonder at the fact I grew up in little ol' New Zealand. They are mystified at the idea of trying a variety of careers or being open to a spectrum of opportunities. They leave me feeling warm and fuzzy in that initial conversation.
When the glow of the conversation starts to wear off though, the doubt starts to creep in. Then we go from multiple chats in a day, to stretches of silence.
Then finally one day it happens. The recruiter lets my call go to voicemail. Or when I call they have to stop and remember who I am. He is slow to email me back when I have questions. Then even slower to reach out when the client wants to move forward with someone else. If I am lucky enough for a rejection call at all that is... sometimes he just disappears into the ether never to be heard from again. My followups ignored. A shiny new list of roles added to a LinkedIn post. I feel like I've been dumped because I'm suddenly worthless to him.
Should I get over myself? The offer of a new job was easy-come, so should I be disappointed when its also easy-go? Its not like I was on the hunt for a new role...
Being rejected for a job is a little jarring, sure, but not the end of the world (I know, I am especially lucky in this context). No-one likes to hear 'No'. However, when you are the person who has brought this role to my attention in the first place, it would seem only fair that you let me know when it is off the table again. Right? I get it, these conversations can be hard. But this is part of your job.
So, when its all over and the days have turned into weeks and I've heard nothing, what do I do? I write myself a note. It goes a little something like this:
"Don't use X at company Y when looking for a new job, or hiring new staff...".
Sounds petty, but its true.
Now, I know I'm not the first candidate to be ghosted. I'm not the first person to be promised an email that then needs to be chased up. I'm not even the first person to sound better on paper than in person (maybe?). And I know I'm not the first person to not get a job offer every single time I apply for something.
I also know that recruiters get a bad rap. I spent some time earlier in my career working in not one but three separate recruitment offices and I understand the pressure that recruitment consultants are under. They're trying to juggle a crazy number of things;
- The needs of their own business. That is, make money by selling some people and their skills to other people and businesses who need those skills (its crude, I know, but true). While that is going on they also need to find more roles to fill next week...
- The needs of their client (and their clients' manager, or HR team, or CEO...) who wants to save money, get better talent, have a diverse workforce, hire someone tomorrow, and who are trying to do their own 40 hours this week...
- The needs and expectations of their candidates (and the candidates' partner, boss, best friend and every other influential person they know). Candidates can be hard work. Expectations can be wildly out of sink. People will say things like "Isn't it your job to find me a job?" (Its not...) or "I just want a really well paying job that isn't too stressful and is for a really cool company with a great office in a super central location...". I get it.
With every single bit of this in mind though, its important to remember that candidates are people too. We have feelings, insecurities, needs, hopes and desires just like any consultant. Manage a candidate like a person. Talk to them like a person. Treat them like you would want someone to treat you, or your sister, or you child. You know, respect and dignity and all that. Treat me like that and I'll write myself a different note:"Recruiter X at company Y couldn't get me across the line this time, but was helpful/kind/good at communicationg. Keep in touch with them when looking for new roles or hiring people"
Now if I was a recruiter, that's the kind of note I would want written about me.