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: 618

Comment by Steve Levy on October 27, 2010 at 2:06pm
It's a "well-known fact" that no one is perfect yet I know so many recruiters who say they are. Huh?

Recognize that you made a mistake? Check
Address the issue with your bosses? Check
Mea Culpa in public? Check
Close the loop with the candidate? Hmmm...
Comment by Peter Ceccarelli on October 27, 2010 at 2:10pm
Rich started his blog out with this..............A few weeks ago, I interviewed a high-level candidate for a critical position at the company I work for.

Regardless of the degree of it's high "levelness", or it "low-levelness", if you were my recruiter and this was called to my attention I'd fire you on the spot. Plain and simple, you failed and the only excuse for this type of behavior is "I'm sorry I let you down, do you have a box I can pack my things in?".

Your profile reads that you've been recruiting for 2-4 years. There are veterans out there who have been doing this since before you were either born or were still in diapers. Your candidate is your guest. Your employer is your livingroom. Whenever you have ANY type of contact with your guest and invite them into your livingroom (email, phone or in-office interview), you now have full responsibility to treat them with respect and provide them with immediate feedback. A heavy work load and "other" things are not EVER an excuse. I've always been on the corporate side of life. Try having 35 jobs open, that many hiring managers you're dealing with, and umpteen phone screens and live in-office interviews............but always having the time to respond to a follow up email or phone call. I actually tell my candidates that I prefer using email rather than the phone since I can respond to a high volume of communication much quicker than a phone call and they're okay with that. And if you don't have anything to tell them, then simply tell them you don't have any update and leave it at that. If that's all they're hearing from you, trust me, they're going to be fine with just that. But at the very least they deserve to hear that from you and that's better than ignoring them. Forgetting or ignoring, or letting communication slip through the cracks means that you don't pay attention to detail and you have to do that in order to be successful in this career. I don't think you're going to last very long in the world of recruiting. I have NEVER not responded to a phone call or an email from a candidate that I reached out to. It's bad manners and does zilch for your company's employment brand.

BTW........no need for the profanity in your blog. Very unprofessional. You could have made the same statements without that!
Comment by Paul Alfred on October 27, 2010 at 2:15pm
Steve this is not about recruiters being perfect - But based on Rich's Blog you always get back to the candidate you have submitted for an interview ... I am going with the blog as it's written outside of feedback the candidate has to be respected the minute you have engaged him from a submission perspective ... And if the candidate was submitted to the hiring Sponsor and I am Rich's Boss and the candidate called me to complain I would have Rich apologize to the candidate ... No questions asked! But this is not this not the case as mentioned in his responses its a phone screen ...

You are right about one thing not something id admit in public ....
Comment by Rich DeMatteo on October 27, 2010 at 2:21pm
Steve - Thanks for your comment. The loop has been closed. In fact, I recently found out that my supervisor had left a voice message for the candidate a few days after he sent the second email. I DID tell my supervisor that we needed to get back to the candidate. The candidate failed to call my supervisor back.

I should have sent a quick email stating that he should call my supervisor for the update, but I failed to do so. It's my error, but everything has been taken care of.
Comment by Rich DeMatteo on October 27, 2010 at 2:23pm
Paul - Honestly, this situation is KIND of about how recruiters aren't perfect. We all know we've made this mistake, or have been too busy to get back to someone. It happens, and I won't believe anyone that tells me otherwise.

Honestly, in this situation, my boss had my back completely. I still felt bad, but it was nice to know that it wasn't just me who felt the candidate acted a bit rash. He could have tried calling me, or maybe returned my supervisor's call. None of that took p lace, so he instead, he most likely realized he wasn't getting the job, and acted out in an email.

Doesn't change the fact that I failed to act on his emails, but it wasn't the best thing he could have done.
Comment by Rich DeMatteo on October 27, 2010 at 2:29pm
Peter - thanks for your comments, and I'm sorry that you'd fire me for a mistake that very successful recruiters have made.

I'm well aware that recruiting hasn't just developed into a profession a few years ago. I'm pretty sure my mentors all have 20 years of recruiting on me, and I've learned from some greats. Also, I can't tell you a time where I haven't had 35+ openings. I may not be seasoned like you, but I know how to recruit and hold my own.

This is something that rarely happens, but does. As noted, it's not something I'm proud of, but it slipped through, and it happens.

Also, please be aware that the reason for the profanity was because this tied into a Kanye West song. I made the disclaimer at the top of the blog post. Also, there are many people in our space who often use profanity. It's who they are, and it's basically part of their brand. I'm not saying profanity is part of my brand, because I tend to watch my usage of such words, but it really is my business to use profanity where I see fit. But thanks.
Comment by Paul Alfred on October 27, 2010 at 2:29pm
Rich we can only control the things we can control - Recruiters do make mistakes yes - But rarely do they make mistakes of not calling the candidates they have submitted for an interview if this is what we are talking about.
Comment by Rich DeMatteo on October 27, 2010 at 3:20pm
Paul - I never submitted this candidate for an interview. I was tasked with the phone screen and gathering information to send back to to my supervisor, the current Corporate Recruiter at the organization. The candidate emailed, and while I was busy, I should have found time to reply. Then at his second email to me, I notified my supervisor who left him a voicemail. The candidate should have called my supervisor back, but instead he sent the nasty email. When he sent his third email, I forwarded that to my supervisor, who handled the situation.

And you make a point that I've already made. It's rare that this stuff happens, but it does, and we can't deny that. I never said this is an on-going occurence. I said that this is something that has unfortunatley happened before, and will happen again. All you can do is improve and move on.

Hopefully I'm making myself clearer for you now.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on October 27, 2010 at 4:57pm
While i appreciate that everyone makes a mistake once in a while and i am all for saying so and falling on your sword i detect a note here of what i would call shifting some of the blame or the old, "I know it's bad but everybody does it".

My take. Any candidate who has been phone screened, sends an email for status is ignored, sends another email and is ignored has every bloody right to send a nasty email to somebody, anybody. So don't shift the heat by talking about what the candidate should have done. I can understand missing one email or being a little late responding but when you got the second email..where were you?
Realizing that you had missed two, why in the world did you not send back an abject apology as well as letting your boss know that you missed it and copying him on your apology.

As to Peter's comment about the profanity. That's up to you but if someone takes exception to it the proper response is. "I am sorry you found that offensive, i will certainly take that into consideration".
Not , yeah i did and lots of people do. We all express ourselves as we choose but "the other kids are doing it too" leaves you in a somewhat immature position. I understood your analogy so if you are going to use it. Don't get defensive just remember that there will always be someone who feels it may be bad taste and be prepared to live with that. I have been known to be a bit "colorful" myself but it's never because the other kids are doing it.
Comment by Rich DeMatteo on October 27, 2010 at 9:37pm
Sandra - thanks for your opinion on this.

I'm certainly not just stating "everyone does it". That wasn't my intention, and I'm sorry if it came off that way. Also, my profanity isn't because "the other kids are doing it". I was simply stating that I'm not the only one in case he hadn't noticed.

Also, I don't post much of my content on RecruitingBlogs.com for a reason. My posts are meant for job seekers who find it very helpful. I've built an incredible brand with my following, and I brought my content here today to be something that would start a constructive discussion. I've been 100% successful in that.

My boss was emailed right away, and he took care of it the next morning. In fact, he told me that he had left the candidate a voicemail after his second email. What I failed to remember was that I had let my supervisor know of the situation after the second email. The candidate failed to call my supervisor back, and then came at me full force. I'm lucky to have a supervisor and company that supports me in full on this.

Thanks for your thoughts here.


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