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 Sandra McCartt on October 28, 2010 at 11:14am
Congrats on building a reputation for your brand.

My question was why didn't you respond and apologize after the second email as opposted to handing it off to your boss. Is that the protocol in your office? My thought was that since the candidate had talked to you he expected a response from you. Perhaps if he had received one you would not have gotten the third email.

Candidates don't know who they are talking to in the food chain but it's been my experience that they want to dance with one that brung em and get very frustrated when they don't hear from that individual. It's great to have the support of supervisors but the individual who contacts them is the one that they want to hear from or know the reason why.
Comment by Rich DeMatteo on October 28, 2010 at 11:19am
Sandra - You are 100% correct. I should have responded right away. I took fault for this, but after letting my supervisor know about my error, he wanted to handle it.

While I was certainly at fault, the candidates tone in the email wasn't something that made my supervisor happy. My intent was never to ignore the candidate, and my supervisor had already tried calling the candidate the week before but never heard back.

You've made great points, and I respect your thoughts here. It was one of the rare times that something slips through, and in this post I was merely trying to say that I will work even harder to make sure it doesn't happen again, but I know that at some point, it will.

I think my use of pop-culture in this post created the wrong point of view, and that may have been a mistake on my part.
Comment by Jerry Albright on October 28, 2010 at 11:23am
I make it a point to wrap up each phone call with a candidate by covering what they can expect next from me. If I know it's going to be a week or so - I'll let them know that. If I'm expecting a little quicker action I try to set those expectations as well.

I also let them know that if any time they haven't heard from me to call me directly - either my office number or my cell phone. I make sure they know I get far too many emails and sometimes I might overlook one when deleting a ton of spam each morning so it's best if they call.

Sorry though Corn - there is no reason to have a second email (after we've spoken) left unanswered. We don't all do it. Maybe one - which is why I tell everyone to just call me - but never two.

Plus - I always answer my phone if I'm not on another call or out of the office. Never, ever will I let one roll into voicemail. And I don't use caller ID in my office either. I want to be surprised!
Comment by Barbara Goldman on October 28, 2010 at 12:53pm
I know what the problem is. Recruiting is expensive. It is expensive because of the man hours involved. You work as an inside recruiter, and you are handling many more recs than the third party recruiter. I know you want to do well, and I have an idea that will help all of the inside recruiters.

You need to be paid on commission. If your mortgage depended on you hurrying the process through, and getting it done, you would have called back. And, a phone screen is an interview. If you talk to the candidate, ask questions, and screen him, you are interviewing him.

Come down to Florida, and work for me. I've trained many inside 'recruiters' to work as third party. They are always surprised at what the job entails. Very few make it.

You are not a douche bag, but you aren't a recruiter either.
Comment by Paul Alfred on October 28, 2010 at 1:52pm
Rich ... Why is it so hard for you to just realize as the veterans have clearly pointed out "You always follow-up with the candidate you have interviewed" Its like getting in the car and putting in the keys to start it... You treat it like putting on Seat belts ( Sometimes you forget to put them on) "you know some point it will " It will what? Happen again ?

Interview - follow-up ... It really is that simple ....
Comment by Rich DeMatteo on October 28, 2010 at 2:03pm
Paul - why is it hard for you to realize that I've admitted tha over and over again? I don't understand how you've got that confused. I've never once said I'm happy about it. But recruiter after recruiter has said that it happens sometimes. It DOES happen more than we want to admit. Sometime, someone slips through the cracks, when there are 50 other candidates that you've interviewed that week on the phone.

Recruiter and recruiter has contacted me and admitted that it's happened to them as well. It's not something we're proud of, but it's happened.

Also, as I've stated in some comments, my supervisor had called the candidate and left a voicemail. My job in this particular situation was to just grab basic information on a phone screen and then pass the candidate off to my supervisor. In this specific situation, I had already thought the candidate had been followed up with by my supervisor. I should have sent a quick email out, but failed to do so. I'm not proud of it. But it's happened, and you make the most of it.

I've NEVER once said that we SHOULDN'T get back to people. I hope you understand me clearer now.
Feel free to message me privately if you still need clarification, and I'll happily talk to you further.
Comment by Chrsitine Smith on October 28, 2010 at 2:22pm
Rich- Thanks for a great article. After being unemployed, I swore I would always follow up with candidates. Unfortunately, it isn't as easy as it sounds. Everyone slips up sometimes- and if they say they don't they aren't talking to a lot of people. I agree with your advice about following up. Iam amazed at the anger in some candidates and those are the people I have turned down. Just confirms my inital decision.
Comment by Rich DeMatteo on October 28, 2010 at 2:38pm
Hi Christine - I'm not proud of it at all. It happened, and I am looking for ways to improve myself as a recruiter and communicator. I spent time unemployed as well, and I had similiar feelings.

Thanks for also admitting that you've slipped before. I'm sure it didn't make you feel good about yourself, and I bet you looked for ways to make yourself even better.

That's really what this post was about. Many folks blew it up a little out of proportion in my opinion, and missed the idea I was hoping to convey.

Comment by Brian K. Johnston on October 29, 2010 at 9:00am
Rich- Good post! Takes integrity to admit a mistake, and then put it out there for the world to see... Good for you!
I was pontificating about this comment "recruiters still let candidates slip through. That, I won't budge on." which is a disturbing comment to be totally honest.... I was going to write an article "RIP internal recruiters" (which I don't believe to be true + I am quite happy earning 75% or more than them on average) but I won't allow myself to stoop so low, just to get a reaction from the community (Narcissism) like some others in this community.... Best to ALL, Brian
Comment by Rich DeMatteo on October 29, 2010 at 10:03pm
Hi Brian - thanks for your comment and your thoughts here. I do believe that recruiters let folks slip through. Not on purpose of course, and when they realize it's been a bit longer than they want since last contact, then they do feel bad and try to make an effort of some sort to get back to the person. It happens, and as long as we learn, and look for ways to improve, then it's OK to be human.

Thanks, again!


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