follow-up flubs, fiascoes and failures that frustrate candidates

Plenty of explanations or excuses exist for why many in the recruiting industry decide to put minimal effort into creating a quality candidate experience. One of the most common gripes job seekers have is lack of follow up after they’ve applied for a position. Even worse, many applicants never hear any feedback whatsoever after interviewing. Or, the communication they receive along the way is vague, mystifying, and in some cases downright unprofessional.


The following are three recent real world examples that were brought to my attention. These demonstrate how a slight tweak to the approach or a more proactive method of communicating could have made a much better impression on the candidate.


Candidate Communication Failure - Scenario #1

An interested mid-career level job seeker inquires with a recruiter via LinkedIn about open position (posted by that recruiter) appearing to match job seeker’s background. Recruiter replies via LinkedIn: “your background is nice, but it doesn’t look like you fit this opening. Do you have strong XYZ experience in an ABC type of situation?” Jobseeker does in fact have such qualifications (thus the reason they expressed interest) and politely summarizes same in reply back, though is already feeling deflated by the “not a fit” remark. Recruiter replies back: “you’re welcome to call me to discuss” but does not include a phone number.


Analysis of Scenario #1

While it may be an imposition to have a job seeker reach out directly, it shouldn’t be viewed negatively as long as that person is not completely delusional about their potential match with the posted opportunity. Had the recruiter simply outlined the key requirements of the position and requested a summary from job seeker describing that specific background, it would have enabled the job seeker to elaborate without feeling that the recruiter already made up their mind to reject them outright. If the clarification provided by the job seeker changed the recruiter’s initial assessment, the recruiter should have initiated further contact rather that leaving it for the job seeker to figure out if their interest was piqued or just trying to offer a courtesy call.


Candidate Communication Failure Example #2

Executive level job seeker addresses cover letter and sends resume to company president in regards to open position. Job seeker receives reply from HR: “your email was sent to me as I am the HR person recruiting for this position. It looks like you might be overqualified, so let’s cut to the chase, what is your salary requirement?”


Analysis of Scenario #2

Again, it’s not always a good idea to attempt direct contact with the hiring party, but as long as the person is realistically qualified and presents their case professionally, it shouldn’t be problematic. In most organizations I’ve been with, it was standard protocol for anything resembling employment related correspondence, solicited or not, to be routed to HR no matter who it was addressed to. Obviously, most companies establish a budget for each opening and it doesn’t make sense to waste time with prospects that are out of range. That said, the HR person’s message was uncouth and amateurish. They easily could have scheduled a brief phone screen to exchange basic information about qualifications and financials with the interested job seeker. Or, if cutting to the chase is the objective, they simply could have provided their range for the position via email to find out if the job seeker was interested in moving forward.


Candidate Communication Failure Example #3

Recruiter sends networking connection or former colleague (or blasts out to many people) message asking: “Do you know anyone for a – GENERIC JOB TITLE – opening?”


Analysis of Scenario #3

There are several ways this could cause more questions than answers. First, many job titles have different scopes of responsibility, meaning, translation and interpretation by industry, career level, specialization and plenty of other factors. Think about how many possible nuances could be attached  to any of the following: software engineer, financial analyst, communication consultant, HR generalist, recruiter, systems administrator or project manager. Second, sometimes the recipient of this type of generic inquiry could very well be interested and qualified for the opening, but since the recruiter simply asked if they know anyone, they could take that to mean anyone ELSE, not them. To eliminate confusion, the recruiter could word the message as follows: “I’m working on a search for a senior software engineer position for a large consumer products firm located in CITY using XYZ technology, ABC languages and blah, blah, blah programs. If you are open to discussing a new opportunity, this might be a great career move. Otherwise, if this sounds perfect for someone in your network please pass along my contact information or email me the names of your top recommendations and I’ll take it from there.”

Interacting and communicating with candidates does occupy a substantial portion of a recruiting or HR professional’s time. While communicating in a polished, professional and proactive manner may take a few extra moments up front, the above examples illustrate how doing so serves a purpose and is worth the effort.



Views: 258

Comment by Tim Spagnola on February 19, 2013 at 8:19am

Good list Kelly - Example #2 is one that I see often. Good Analysis. 

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on February 19, 2013 at 8:26pm

Thanks, Tim! 

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on February 19, 2013 at 10:02pm
God I hate number 2... How hard is it to just say, "hey thanks for your interest, FYI here's are range, if that works lets talk" or similar? I get not wanting to waste time but that messaging was ridiculous... Especially for a more senior candidate. Just pick up the damn phone.


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