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Listen along when you don’t have time to read:

Recently, I wrote about Deadbeat Candidates and the challenge that recruiters face nowadays with poor follow-up, and sometimes, no follow-up at all. Well folks, the plight continues. But let me also say that I received a lot of feedback from candidates themselves, highlighting another significant challenge in the job market: deadbeat recruiters.

I was surprised to see this feedback. Recruiting is a profession almost entirely focused on people. If we’re not following up consistently, then what are we doing? Upon reflecting on my own role in this issue, I realized that even I have been guilty of dropping the ball on follow-up a time or two.

The rules for recruiters really are the same as the rules I set forth for candidates:

  • Make sure your follow-up is substantive and accurate.
  • Follow up after an interview.
  • Close the loop.
  • Do what you say you’re going to do.

Recruiters, how can we ask our candidates to be responsible communicators when we’re not modeling the behavior ourselves? And furthermore, how will we ever find the best people if we’re not willing to roll up our sleeves and really dig in?


Recruiters Are Coaches; Make Sure Your Follow-up is Substantive and Helpful

There are a lot of scenarios where I can imagine the ball gets dropped:

  • When the candidate is not qualified
  • When the interview did not go well
  • When someone else gets the job

As recruiters, we have an opportunity and even an obligation to coach our candidates toward greater future success. We hold the information, so why not share it? For example, when you have an initial conversation with a candidate and realize that they’re not right for the position you’re speaking about, the right thing to do is to let them know; and explain why. You can point to specific details within the job description and help candidates to understand why their background or areas of expertise are not right for the role. And maybe even take the conversation one step further by helping them to understand what other types of roles there are, where their skills and qualifications would be better served.

The same applies to when a candidate does not do well in an interview; it’s important to let them know where and how they can improve.

This is a valuable service that recruiters can provide. And it will more than likely lead to stronger, more productive relationships with candidates. Instead of simply being a name in their inbox that never followed up about an opportunity, be a mentor and a coach. Helping candidates to work through their challenges and solve problems during a job search is some of the most rewarding work that I do.

And who knows where this kind of coaching can lead; an opportunity could pop up down the line for which they’d be perfectly suited for. And when you pick up the phone to call them, they’re going to remember your candor and guidance. It’s a win-win!


Closing the Loop & Doing What You Say You’re Going To Do

I fully understand the challenges that recruiters face. Managing multiple conversations for multiple open positions at all of the various stages is a lot to keep straight. Sometimes when I lay down at night, there’s just an incessant loop of names going through my head.

In many cases, it’s a matter of project management; keeping a folder, list or spreadsheet of all of the candidates you’re talking to, where they are in the process and who needs information from you (the recruiter).

During a learning session at LinkedIn’s Talent Connect last week, I learned some tools and tricks of the trade from one of the best, Stacy Zapar. Stacy tells all of her candidates (the ones that are actively being worked through the process) that they will never go more than a week without hearing from her. And she keeps her word. Stacy sets aside time every Friday afternoon to close the loop with each of her active candidates. She calls it her “Friday Blitz.” Even if it’s just a simple message that lets a candidate know that while no decisions have been made yet, you have not forgotten about them, that’s great! What a difference that can make to their overall experience with your company!

And speaking of companies, what does all of this mean to them? Let me tell you…


Why Should Companies Care?

Companies that are vetting recruiters for an upcoming search should ask questions about and consider a recruiters’ overall recruiting philosophy. Are they an “I’ll communicate with you as long as you’re immediately useful to me” kind of recruiter or are they a recruiter focused on the long game and relationship building?

Why is this distinction important? I think the long game recruiters have larger networks. I also think their networks are comprised of talented, accomplished people that were and are worth investing the time and energy in. Maybe most importantly, I think that they’re focused on the candidate experience and will represent your organization with knowledge, competence and professionalism.

For more tips on how companies can prepare to work with recruiters, check out my previous blog posts:

Working with Recruiters: For Companies

Working with Recruiters: 3 More Tips for Companies


The bottom line is that we’ve all got to get better at this communication thing. It’s really what makes the world go around. Between the candidates taking time to follow-up with recruiters and recruiters treating each candidate with respect and honesty during the process, we can all come together to bridge the gap and fill those dream jobs. Consider what you can do immediately to turn things around and happy hunting to all!


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