Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ghostbusters Part II

A few weeks ago we looked at “ghosting” and how it applies to the recruiting world. “Ghosting”- The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone. Part I introduced the concept and how it looks when the recruiter gets “ghosted” by the candidate. In Part II we’ll turn it around and consider what’s happening when the candidate gets ghosted by the recruiter.

Recruiters ghosting candidates is a big deal. On almost any career-oriented website you’ll find comments from frustrated candidates regarding the lack of communication from recruiters. Whether they are working directly with the company or a third-party recruiter, the reports are similar:

“I submitted my resume and they requested additional information, which I provided. I did not hear back from them. I’ve called and emailed. No response. That’s just rude.”

“I interviewed with the recruiter and they said they would get back to me. I waited a week and contacted them. No response. I’ve called or emailed several more times over the past month and got nothing back. The least they could do is let me know if I’m still being considered or not.”

“I had several phone interviews and they said the next step would be in-person interviews with the hiring authority and other members of the management team. Since then I’ve never heard another word. I’d just like to know what’s going on.”

“I’ve applied for hundreds of jobs and rarely do I get any response. Maybe a computer generated acknowledgement, but that’s about it. I know I’m qualified for these positions. What’s going on with these recruiters ?”

OK, I will be the first to admit that job seekers have some valid complaints about how they are treated by recruiters and/or prospective employers. However, some of the complaints are the result of unrealistic candidate expectations. So we should talk about what candidates should expect and how they should communicate with recruiters, specifically third-party recruiters, aka headhunters.

Let’s start at the beginning. Say you email your resume to a search firm and based on the information available on the firm’s website, it’s reasonable to assume that they may have clients who would have interest in you as a candidate. In that case, at minimum you deserve a confirmation that they have received your information. Beyond that, it’s unrealistic to expect anything more.

Moving on, let’s say that the search firm requests additional information. Perhaps they ask you to complete a questionnaire or profile of some sort. Perhaps even submit references. When you submit that additional information, you deserve an acknowledgement. Beyond that, don’t expect more. Trust me, if the search firm thought they could place you, they would follow up and you would have a conversation with a recruiter.

So let’s assume that you do have a conversation with the recruiter. The feedback you get from the recruiter should fall into one of four categories: No Way, Unlikely, Maybe, or Yes. At least that’s how I approach it. Honesty can be brutal, but I try to soften the blow as much as possible.

A discussion about these four categories is a whole other issue and I think I’ll write a separate post about them. But regardless of which response you get, your expectations with respect to future communication with the recruiter should be realistic. If you’re going to get an interview with one their client companies, that recruiter will contact you. If the recruiter thinks he may have something that will fit and he wants to run it past you, that recruiter will contact you. Beyond that, don’t expect the recruiter to contact you “just to check in”. That may or may not happen. If you want to “check in” with the recruiter, that’s fine. That doesn’t mean every day. Maybe once or twice a month and via email or text. And you do deserve a response to that communication.

Now let’s take it one step further. Assume that you interview with one of the search firm’s client companies. This is where it gets a bit complicated. If it’s just an initial phone screen with an HR person, there may be very little to report. You will give the recruiter your feedback on the interview and the recruiter will make their best effort to get feedback from HR. If it’s positive, most of time there will be confirmation that you are likely moving forward in “the process”. Sometimes, it’s just "your information is being forwarded to the hiring authority”. Could be positive, could mean nothing. And sometimes, it’s just a no. If time goes by before that recruiter gets the feedback and if the feedback is such that no further action is likely…DO NOT be surprised if the recruiter doesn’t contact you. I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s reality. Good recruiters are really busy. Again, you should be following up with the recruiter on the status of the opportunity. And that recruiter should absolutely respond to you.

Then there is the grand finale. You go for in-person interviews with the client company. You definitely should expect feedback from the recruiter. But as these things tend to drag out over time, don’t expect the recruiter to contact you weeks later to let you know the company hired someone else. Again, you should initiate periodic contact with the recruiter as to the status of the position and they should absolutely respond to your inquiries.

Here’s the bottom-line. Recruiters are motivated to establish, develop and maintain strong relationships with quality candidates. Recruiters are also very busy and their first priority will be working those things which are “closest to money”. Good recruiters are managing hundreds of candidate relationships and dozens of client relationships. Don’t wait for the phone to ring. Don’t be that special snowflake who melts because the mean old recruiter didn’t get back to you. Initiate contact with your recruiter, stay in contact. If for some reason they don’t return a phone call or an email, contact them again. Things slip through the cracks. But if they fail to get back to you after that, you can fairly say that you’ve been ghosted.

“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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