Let’s have a toast for the douche bags. Let’s have a toast for the recruiters

I messed up. I'm a douche bag. I'm an asshole. I'm a recruiter.
***Before going any further, I should mention that you MIGHT want to be familiar with Kanye Wests' "Runaway" to understand the pop culture reference. Click here to listen to the song, but honestly, it's not all that important.


In "Runaway", Kanye basically sends out a public apology to women he's dated, Taylor Swift, the world, and even himself. In the song, Kanye acknowledges that he's not the greatest guy the world has seen, and that it does make him unhappy. While he admits his character flaws, he realizes that working on them may or may not change anything.

In recruiting (as well as other professions and areas of life), things will slip through the cracks every so often. Unfortunately, when it does happen, it's most likely related to not getting back to a candidate quick enough, or just not getting back to them at all. It happens often, in fact it's the number one complaint from job seekers regarding interview processes.

My Douche Bag Moment

A few weeks ago, I interviewed a high-level candidate for a critical position at the company I work for. On October 12, the candidate sent an email asking for an update, and then he sent another on October 15 repeating his question. Somehow, I failed to act on both and completely forgot about it. On October 24, the candidate let me know of his displeasure by sending me the following email:
I can't tell you how disappointed I am that you have not shown me the courtesy of responding to either of my past 2 email messages. I will be sure to mention your lack of responsiveness to my friend who is close with both the CEO and CFO of COMPANY X.
I immediately felt a little shitty when reading the email, but not because this candidate used a threatening tone, or because I feared losing my current contract. What got to me was the realization that no matter what I do, this IS GOING to happen again and again. No matter how hard I work at it, situations like this will repeat themselves, and candidates will ALWAYS complain about not hearing back.

I'm not asking you to "runaway". I'm not even really calling recruiters "assholes" or "douche bags". What I'm trying to say is that I'm sorry.

Maybe I'm speaking for all recruiters here, or maybe I'm just speaking for me, but while I'd love to get back to every candidate, it's just not going to happen. People out there will claim there is no excuse for not getting back to a candidate. I'm not arguing with them, but when you walk through a shit storm you're bound to get crapped on.

I haven't heard back after two emails, what do I do?

Don't send an angry email or voicemail. I'm not holding it against this particular candidate, but many recruiters/hiring managers would see it as lack of patience on the candidate's part. My honest opinion is to wait another full week or two, then send one more email or phone call. After that, it's time to forget about the job, and realize that they either don't have information yet, have gone with someone else, or have forgot about you.

Don't take it personal. Just move on. Just "Runaway".

Views: 570

Comment by ryan morphett on November 2, 2010 at 1:11am
Another interesting article and Rich thanks for your honesty. As many have said it is an error and I am sure it is one you will try your hardest never to repeat, enough said on that I think.
I love blogs like yours for the responses they tend to generate and the flack that you receive for writing them. I do wonder if it makes the frustrated feel powerful to let loose on the author and let them know how they themselves have never made the same mistake. I tend to be with Jim and want to ask "really not even once?".
But Rich in putting yourself out there you are always going to cop a little flack for being honest. My tip to you is remain honest, cop the flack and keep moving forward, if you have learnt from this error and you have learnt from writing the blog then it has been a worthwhile excersise.
Comment by Rich DeMatteo on November 2, 2010 at 1:50am
Hey Ryan - Thanks for the comment and thoughts here. When so much is happening, and many candidates are involved, then it will happen. You do everything you can to avoid it, but it may happen again. I'm better from this, and the discussion has been wonderful.

Thanks!
Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on November 3, 2010 at 8:42am
I sure that I have not followed up with every casndidate 100% of the time on time. But what I do is when setting up the interview I make a reminder in my out look that pops of 2 days after the interview so I remember the follow up.

We must we must follow up.....
Comment by Rich DeMatteo on November 3, 2010 at 8:50am
Hi CB - great tip, and thanks for your comment. That's exactly what I wanted to get out of this post. Some tips from folks on how they improve process and communication. Thanks!
Comment by Ian White on November 7, 2010 at 6:44pm
Great article. I did not view this as something that should cause controversy like it has for many, but more of a life lesson in short terms. You stated in an early comment that we are human and we make mistakes. This is 100% true. By your article and your response there was no intention of hurting this candidate by not calling him back. It was simply a mistake that we all learn from. I am sure everyone here has done the same thing, and can even understand what the applicant went through. While reading this article I placed myself in the shoes of the applicant. I know what it's like to be waiting for a response for weeks. The last time that happened to me (before I got into HR) I was upset and felt stranded. After being in the field for a while, I understand how difficult it may be to return a phone call when you're caught up in so much other work. As I go along I try to empathize as much as possible to reduce that feeling of being stranded, and strive for excellent customer satisfaction.

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