Elizabeth Arnott, SPHR
How Recruiters and Hiring Managers Are Damaging Their Brand
It's a candidate's market! I've heard that so many times in the last few months as I've been job searching. But based on my experiences, I'd never know that it was a candidate's market. Based solely on my experiences job searching in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington markets, I'd guess that there are so many candidates, and that business is so booming that recruiters and employers can afford to treat candidates recklessly and without concern for their employer or company brand.
As an HR professional who believes in continually improving, I've decided that it's important to provide feedback so that recruiters and hiring managers can do better with candidates in the future.
I've frequently been in the position to engage the assistance of a recruiting firm or staffing agency in previous jobs, and I will most likely be in that position again at some point in the future. I understand the value that a professional recruiter can bring to a hiring process. That being said, I've dealt with many recruiters that specialize in HR, and been pretty surprised at how they've treated me, not only as a candidate, but also as a potential customer.
It hasn't all been bad. I'll start with a few things I've experienced that I've felt positively about and that have given me a candidate experience that motivates me to work with organizations as a decision maker and potential customer.
1. Hiring managers responding to thank you emails. Several hiring managers responded to my thank you emails, even when I'd been rejected. This indicates an organization that cares about people, and about their brand. I would definitely work with this organization as a customer.
2. Providing the candidate with the list of questions when they arrive. Usually not more than 10-15 questions, several organization provided the list of questions either upon arrival or at the start of the interview. This signals a consistent, organized, accessible, equitable and planned hiring process. I would definitely work with this organization as a customer.
3. Fast turnaround times between phone screen and in-person interview. I've loved being identified in the phone screen as a potential match for the position and then getting a request for an interviews shortly after and scheduling within a week. This indicates that the company knows what they want and is moving forward efficiently. I'm likely to work with this organization as a customer.
4. Immediate notification when I don't meet the client's requirements. Often, the client will have requirements that aren't listed on the original job ad. Two recruiters I worked with called me immediately when the client required experience that I didn't have, so that I could move on and focus on other positions. This indicates that the recruiter manages expectations and communicates effectively. I'm likely to work with this recruiter as a customer.
As I've said, I've experienced a surprising amount of interactions that have given me a clear picture of what companies and firms I DON'T want to work with as a decision maker and potential customer. While there are too many instances to describe each one, here are the five most egregious examples, beyond the usual ghosting, failure to call at the designated times and failure to notify after an interview:
1. Demanding networking, then ignoring networking and referral emails. "You must network!" is something we frequently hear from recruiters. But often times, the networking, specifically with recruiters, is a one-way street. I've been referred to specific recruiters, added personal notes, stated who referred me, only to be ignored. I'm not talking about junior or new recruiters here, either. These are recruiters who have great reputations, are well-known in the community and work for reputable firms. I've shared their job postings, reached out to them in a friendly way, and been ignored. If you are going to demand that candidates network with you, then understand that networking goes two ways. This indicates unprofessionalism and lack of follow through. I would not work with your organization as a customer.
2. Saying that you love my experience and my resume and that you will market me to companies, then ghosting me. This has happened to me at least three times. I didn't ask for you to market me. This was something you offered. Then you disappeared and didn't respond to follow up emails or calls. Please don't offer something you have no intention of following through on. This indicates that you aren't able to have honest conversations or manage expectations. I would not work with your organization as a customer.
3. Hiring managers and recruiters not communicating with each other. Three interviews. During the last interview, I was told they were going to be making a decision that same week. Then...they disappeared. After two follow up emails and three weeks later, the corporate recruiter reached out to me, said that he found my resume online and would love for me to apply to the same job. The hiring manager and the recruiter did not know what the other was doing. This indicates a culture of disorganization and communication problems. I would not work with your organization as a customer.
4. Not being prepared for interviews. I can't speak for all candidates, obviously, but I generally put in a considerable amount of time in preparing for interviews. I recently had an interview where I met with TEN people from one company, not one of which had seen my resume or had prepared interview questions. I spent several hours preparing for the interview, but not one of the ten people took even five minutes to know who they were interviewing. I've frequently interviewed in situations where the person has not reviewed my resume and they are reading it for the first time in the actual interview. This indicates that you don't respect your own time, let alone the time of others. You don't take the hiring process seriously. I would not work with your organization as a customer.
5. Yo-yo-ing candidates and placeholder candidates. If you reject me, great. If you decide you want to reconsider me, great. But before you ask me to review a lengthy organizational document in preparation for an interview, please make sure that I will actually be reconsidered. I don't want to get a call the next morning, after I've already put in the time to prepare, that you've changed your mind again.
Also, I don't want to be used as a placeholder candidate just so the organization has more than one person to interview, when they've really already made up their mind to go with another candidate. If the interview with me is just a formality to make them feel better about their decision, please don't call me! This indicates a please-the-client-at-all-costs perspective, regardless of the collateral damage. I would not be likely to work with these organizations as a customer.
In some of the cases above, when it's been appropriate, I've given feedback directly to the recruiter or to my contact at the company. Several recruiters have been grateful for the feedback and responded professionally. Receiving feedback gracefully is a big plus and can erase many a transgression. To those that have been graceful in receiving the feedback, you have my respect, possibly my business and I will recommend you to others. To those that haven't been graceful in receiving feedback, well, it's probably best if we just don't work together, anyway.
Please keep in mind that I've been in HR for 19 years and have done full-cycle recruiting. I'm fully aware of the challenges. I am not expecting perfection at all and I understand that life happens. I would love it, though, if we could all, as HR professionals and hiring managers, think through our actions and how they affect other people.
A few minutes of thoughtful consideration can prevent a person feeling disrespected or devalued and can prevent potential damage to your company or employer brand. I'm going to make it a priority to be more thoughtful in my actions as I move forward in my career, and I hope you will, too.
Here's to better hiring!