For the first time in a very long time, I find myself in a job transition. It has been a humbling experience. In the past I accepted there are poor candidate experiences…that’s why they hire me as a TA leader to fix it right? Some research shows that less than 20% of candidates receive a response from a recruiter, 92% of candidates would not rate their hiring experience positively, and 43% of candidates never hear back from a company. From my personal experience, and from what I hear from other candidates, I believe it may even be worse. It is as bad as it has ever been.
Insights from an Executive Job Search
Imagine having two phone screens, four video interviews, a 6am flight and an entire day of on-site interviews, then being told you are the leading candidate, references checked (will I ever be able to ask that favor again?) and yet I am still waiting for a call, email or even a text update.
Another example just last week, I finally received feedback from an interview I did nearly three months ago. According to the Executive Search Consultant that the company hired to do the search, it turns out that the executive who was in charge of hiring for the role left the company a few weeks after my interview. I asked him why it had taken him so long to let me know. His answer was he (and many of his colleagues) are running over 20 executive searches at any given time. He finds himself working on the ones that require “speed and higher expectations from his clients.” The ones that get put on hold or funky, just fall off his radar. I get it, I know all the pressures recruiters are under today, but it still isn’t OK. The notorious “black hole” isn’t just for new grads or the call center representative positions anymore.
The lack of candidate follow up is happening across all levels, industries and professions.
I should mention there are some companies and some recruiters that do it right, but most of us haven’t seen “what good looks like” lately. And it's not just my experience. In my executive networking groups, I hear stories that used to be the one-off bad recruiter stuff, now those stories seem to be the norm. For example, a Chief Financial Officer who met with the hiring company’s CEO in an interview, was told he was “his guy and needed to meet the Board to finalize the deal." No one from this respected company has called him back. No kidding.
Why is candidate experience still such a struggle?
In these executive round tables, I’m the token recruiter in the room (and find myself the scapegoat for our profession). I am often asked to help them understand why this is happening. I have been thinking a lot about this. It is my opinion that recruiters have too many searches (isn’t everyone too busy today) and there is an assumption that recruiting technology and automation or someone else is taking care of candidate follow-up. Or maybe the problem is closer to home…I have to say it… if you don’t have the guts to tell someone “no”, you are in the wrong profession.
What I am most disappointed with right now are search firms. Have they forgotten that we will remember how we were treated when it is time to engage an external search firm? We all will remember (I even remember the first interview I had out of college). It’s important also to remember, we hire the person as well as the firm. So, the person who does the search and works at one search firm, leaves and goes to another firm… that person’s individual brand as well as the firm they work for will also be damaged if they neglect the candidate experience.
I am a business woman and I know in the end it is still about the bottom line but there is no reason for lack of professional courtesy (wouldn’t you want it?). Let’s all step away from our computers and phones and take a deep breath…don’t assume someone else is taking care of your follow-up. Let’s get back to the basics…didn’t we get into recruiting to help companies find top talent and to help individuals find an opportunity of a lifetime? If you feel just a little guilty, pick up the phone, it’s not too late.
Put yourself in a candidate's shoes
Fellow recruiters (both in-house and external) and leaders of recruiters, if you haven’t been a candidate for a while, take a few minutes to apply for a job on-line (especially your own). Go through a few interviews and experience this for yourself. It will make you a better recruiter. As a Talent Acquisition influencer, leader and recruiter at heart, I will always champion an excellent candidate experience because it still matters.
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