By Aaron Dodd, Operations Director of the Mindset Group
As many of you know, I am passionate about improving the standards of the executive search and recruitment industries. Recruiters by and large have a very bad name, often compared to real estate agents and used car salespeople. There is no smoke without fire, and much of the criticism is justified. Not all recruiters are suspect of course. Many are fine hard working individuals who create real value for their clients and are appreciated by their candidates. But many are not. These others are a significant part of the recruitment scene, and their antics muddy the waters and make it much harder for the good guys’ messages to get through. I have been in the industry many years and am proud to be labelled a “recruiter”, even though that label also has many negative connotations. My company’s clients know that we are not like the rest, but the reputation of recruiters as a whole makes it challenging to attract new clients, hence my attempts to lead change in the industry.
Recruiters act as an interface (or broker) between employers and candidates and so have the ability to upset both their clients and their candidates.
The most common way they upset clients is by presenting candidates that don’t reflect what their candidate is looking for. Non-exclusive contingent recruiters are most to blame for this one. It’s a daft business model that pits competing recruiters to get a backside on a seat quickly so that they can get an invoice out. The emphasis is on speed not quality. This business model is also the one most likely to upset candidates as the time pressures involved mean that most contingent recruiters have little time for candidate care.
The market will take care of agencies that upset clients as they won’t get the briefs, so generally it will unfortunately take care of itself. Businesses without clients seldom last long.
Upsetting candidates however is another matter. There is an absolute groundswell of opinion from job seekers that recruiters are lower than pond scum. The tales that I have heard continue to stagger me. In crass terms, candidates are our stock. I have never heard of an industry that treats its inventory so poorly. Farmers do not mistreat their animals as their productivity will drop and they won’t get as much for them at market. Why do so many recruiters maltreat their candidates??
This blog post was triggered by two events today. The first was a call from an unsuccessful candidate thanking me for sending him a prompt “sorry you have been unsuccessful” email. He told me that it was so unusual he had to call me. It meant closure for him and he could move on to other things. I know that one day he’ll be a Mindset client. Candidate care should be king for recruiters. I urge everyone to;
- Let candidates know what your process is up front
- Acknowledge all applications, communications and follow-ups
- Return ALL phone calls promptly
- Let candidates know how they are progressing (or not)
- Let them know that they have been unsuccessful, and what will be happening with their details.
All of that is candidate neglect. The other event that sparked this blog was what could only be described as candidate abuse. I thought I’d seen it all but this was a new low for me to witness. This agency is based in Sydney. Firstly this agency appeared to be doing the right thing and was sending acknowledgement letters to its candidates via email...however after the first cursory sentence thanking them for their application, it went on;
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This recruiter clearly treats their applicants with contempt. An industry associate commented that they must think “Why waste digital letters on these people, instead we’ll just pitch back to them, hopefully we’ll make some comms out of these loser candidates who’ve got nothing else better to do than to apply for jobs with us, so they’re not a total waste of space”.
In summary, care for your candidates. They aren’t stupid. Many are or will become quite influential. Think long term, farm and cultivate your stock for maximum return!