Throughout my years in recruiting, there is one call I have always hated to make, but have, nonetheless, made it - every time. It is, of course, the sign-off call. I am not sure what everyone else calls it but in my book, when a candidate that I have walked through the process, presented, and interviewed, doesn't get the offer and I need to let them know, I call them to sign them off as a candidate in play. I am a recruiter that becomes invested in the candidates that get invited to the show. And when the curtain closes on that candidate, I need to make that call as soon as possible.

The "recruiter" has earned a bad reputation over the years. Rightfully so, in most cases. There are many that don't make that call. There have been times when a candidate has said to me, "I can't believe you called me. I have never received a call to tell me I didn't get the job. Thank you." When I remind them that I did tell them I would keep them posted, they usually snort and say, "That's what the last guy said, too." I try to smile and persuasively say, "Not all recruiters are created equal." Sadly.

Why is that? Why are candidates left hanging? Does it speak to a lack of respect? Of just hating that call? Of no follow-through? Of a lost art form? Of cowardice? I have said before how important it is to build in retention methods throughout the whole recruiting process, why would you not want to retain a good candidate? One that made it to the last round? When you fail to keep the candidate informed, you risk ever receiving a return call from them again, regarding future recruitments or referrals.

Most sign-off calls can be converted, if handled the right way. I often accompany bad news with a promise to keep them posted should I hear of another opening, "What would be the ideal next step for you? Would you consider relocation for the right job?" Then I transition back into recruiter mode, "Given that you went through this process and probably understand what this job entails better than anyone, is there anyone you know that might be well-suited for this role? Or is there someone you know that can help me get the word out?" Get that referral. Never leave a call without getting something in return. Never.

That is your job. Think sourcing consistently. Then act upon that thought. This job takes guts; use them. When you keep an eye on what lies ahead, the potential new opps, you have to make it right with all of the candidates, not just the one who gets the offer, the placement. You only fail yourself and those with whom you work. Candidates get it and they aren't surprised when they aren't called back. It's just another thing candidates have come to expect, very little.
© by rayannethorn

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I hate to make that call....but I make it because it's my job and because it is unprincipled to do otherwise.
There have been many times when the messenger has been shot during one of those calls. I understand how difficult it is to be on the receiving end and I don't take it personally.

The one thing I differ with you about Rayanne is when to ask for the referral. I wait a few days after "that" call and get back to the candidate. I talk about the status of the job what else the candidate has going on and, if necessary, soothe a bruised ego over the perceived rejection. Then I ask for a referral. The second contact helps to cement our relationship. It assures the candidate that I haven't just dropped them because all I care about is filling the job.......and it is true. If I didn’t think the individual was an outstanding candidate I wouldn’t have presented them to my client.
You are right about the possibility of bitterness building with some candidates after a few days. However, most of the time my follow up calls are well received and I usually get my referral. It works well for me in a number of ways.

I also agree with your statement to "never leave a conversation empty-handed". Sometimes what I leave with is just a solid building block in a relationship. Having a candidate believing I have their best interest in mind and can rely on me to be honest and responsive is one of those blocks. Lets face it, the types that feel bitter toward you won't really believe that you mean business and can get the job done until you get it done for them.

The original point of your message was to make sure you have the guts to make that call. The bad reputation of recruiters is built on the calls that aren't made. I agree with you 100%. Make the call....give the bad news.....ask for referrals and just plain care. Not calling a candidate with bad news is worse than the news itself. Bitterness over not getting the job is nothing compared to finding out you didn't get it and the recruiter didn't even let you know.
Enjoyed reading and thinking back on times when I have been at both sides of that equation. It was far easier for me to make the 'sign off' call than to leave things unfinished. Simply put, I dislike unfinished business. The first thing you learn about communicating is a two way street and that it is the feedback loop which completes the process. No feedback = no communication. As a recruiter, you are expected to value your time on the phone and be more productive. Many might use that as a crutch to drop the rejected candidate completely off their list of callbacks, (that is until they need to submit them for another job) thinking that they don't deserve a call back because they didn't get the offer. I roundly reject this attitude.

Others play it straight and come right out and tell the candidate that they will provide an update if and only if it is positive news. They probably have superior people management skills to be able to use that play successfully each time. Now, that may not not be everyone's idea of good communicating, but at least they tell you how they like to work and you can move on knowing what to expect. Setting and resetting expectations is a very useful practice as well, if one wishes to become a better recruiter. Thanks.
In some cases where i know that i have a particularly volitile or sensitive candidate i send an email to them the minute i know they have been turned down that says, "I just got the word that we are not going to be moving forward on this position". Or "I was just notified that we are not going to receive an offer". "I will call you in a few minutes."

I give them a few minutes to digest the news then call. This gives the person a few minutes to handle the disappointment collect themselves so we can have a positive conversation as to why, what went wrong or share information about the decision, comiserate or whatever needs to happen. Even if i have the top three candidates on a position i try to make it a "we" with each candidate. I have a vested interest in each candidate i submit so it has to be "we".

My attitude is: If a candidate sent me a resume. I owe them at least an email back saying ..Sorry your background is not a fit for this position. I will keep you file.

If i submit a candidate's resume. I owe them at least an email back saying..My client has indicated they do not feel your background is what they are looking for in terms of years of experience or industry/position concentration. They are focusing on blah, blah at this time.

If a candidate is interviewed. I owe them as much feedback as i can get, as many calls as i can make to them with any information and a prompt email and call when or if they are turned down.

The fastest way to get dropped off the party list is to ignore the RSVP. Whether i go to the party or not i owe the person who invited me the courtesy of a response. Being ignored is the worst insult anyone can receive in my book of etiquette.

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