You're a decent person, and you care about others. So how do you deal with the growing number of job-seekers who show up at your door?

With kindness and grace, I hope. You may not be able to find everyone a position—which is true even in the best of times—but at the very least, you can show them respect and offer some professional guidance.

I remember my first recession as a recruiter, and the impression it made. The same candidates who wouldn't take my calls a year earlier were suddenly stacked up in my office, laid off from their salary-inflated positions.

At first, I felt a tinge of schadenfreude, that devilish pleasure we sometimes feel from seeing the people who snubbed us suffer. My, how the mighty have fallen!

Simple Acts of Service
Fortunately, my better angels prevailed, and I quickly began to feel compassion for my candidates. Of course, there was a commercial component to my change in attitude. From a practical standpoint, I realized that our fortunes were joined at the hip. Fewer jobs for them translates to fewer paychecks for me. We're all in the same boat, with mortgages to pay and kids to feed. (Or is it the other way around?)

So, what can you do to help your candidates, even if you can't find them a job? Here are some ideas:

1. Treat job-seekers with dignity. It's humiliating enough to have to ask for a job, so don't rub salt in their wounds by being brusque or sounding indifferent to their pain.

2. Thank them for showing up. "I'm grateful you contacted me," you say. "I'm afraid I can't help you at the present time, but the moment something comes up, I'll call you right away."

3. Return their calls and respond to their emails. Address each person by his or her name, even if you use a stock phone message or email reply. And please don't use an autoresponder unless you're unavailable; it can feel demeaning to someone who made a good-faith effort to contact you.

4. Be generous. Furnish a lead whenever possible. If there's an appropriate resource (yes, even another recruiter who might be helpful), then point them in the right direction.

5. Help build their skills and value in the market. Your constructive criticism and practical advice will be greatly appreciated, and may mean the difference between an offer and a rejection.

6. Put job-seeker resources online. My Web site, for example, contains 20 articles designed to help candidates improve their interviewing skills, strengthen their resumes and manage their careers.

Unemployment can quickly erode a person's self-esteem. So whatever you say or do, always strive to build your candidates' confidence. Acts of kindness not only have merit in their own right, they represent a payback to your constituency. After all, if it weren't for your candidates, you'd be unemployed, too.

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I think this is a GREAT article and wish I could send it to EVERY SINGLE RECRUITER that is not returning ANY of my calls. I feel stupid. I'm the one that sends notes to them in good times/bad. I've sent get well cards to their mom's when they were sick. When they needed a reference for LinkedIn or others...I'm the person they contact, but when I call or reply to a position that they post - NADDA!! For the love of god - is this the way you want to be treated?? Why is it so easy for recruiters to reach out when they are doing well, or need something but when their client isn't they don't have the time of day.

Perfect example - I was heavily recruited by a recruiter to take a position in a different state. For 3 Months we did the interviews, went for visits, finally got the offer, I MOVED and after 29 days I was downsized due to the economy. When I called this recruiter she at first blew me off - I believe it was because she had caller id and saw my phone number. When I called her from a different phone, she commented "oh where are you calling from, I don't recognize this number" so I know that she looks before she answers. When I asked her to help me work out a compensation package like she "had to be involved with my original package" she said to me "this is something you have to work out with them yourself. I can't be involved. Good luck" and hung up the phone. She was beating down my phone wires to have me take the job and now...she didn't want to help me at all.

Look I know I'm not the most special candidate in the entire universe nor does it revolve around me. I know they are probably swamped - I get it. I AM however, a person with real feelings who has trusted you to help or at the very least return a phone call/email.

What I think this industry needs is a real course in R-E-S-P-E-C-T of the people you serve. It's not just about the paying client it's the people that look to you to help us in times of need are clients too.
Your article was really good. Made me realize that all of us are human beings and every person has a good or bad day in his life.

By being compassionate we can only make another person happy and gain satisfaction in return.

Keep writing more wonderful articles like these.
Dear Lisa:
Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm awfully sorry about what happened to you and about the treatment you received from the recruiter.

Best of luck in all you do; and I hope at some point a recruiter will make a positive impression.

Dear Aurine:
Thanks for your comments; I'm glad you enjoyed my article. I can assure you that I'll keep writing them; to see some of my past work, please visit my Web site at and click on "Newsletter" or "Tips."

Take care,

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