We Should Be Ashamed

Picture 4Top-notch job candidates are tired of the recruiting mess we have created in the U.S. I would guess that well over half of all recruiting functions are dysfunctional. By that I mean they have no standard process for dealing with candidates, treat some candidates much differently than others, respond sporadically to requests and phone calls, fail to follow through on verbal commitments to candidates, and let themselves be constantly swayed by hiring managers who are unaware of the talent market.

I say this because I have recently talked to a dozen or more people who I know personally and have worked with over the years. I can vouch for their skill, professional abilities, and reputation. While they may not be a good fit for the particular job they were seeking, they were worthy of respect and of receiving a consistent and predictable response.

One particular friend of mine recently decided to switch jobs. He was not laid off and was not unhappy. He just felt the longer-term opportunity was better in a different place. Being a educated candidate, and with some advice from me and others, he laid out a plan. He started by asking friends about opportunities and also by choosing a few specific firms he might like to work at and finding LinkedIn friends who worked in those firms. The net result was referrals to a possible four or five potential jobs.

He then decided to check out the corporate websites of these few companies to see if the positions were listed. His first shock was at the poor quality of these sites. Most of them lacked good general information and offered nothing specific about the kind of work he was interested in. Only one of the sites listed the position he knew was open, offered little information about the position except the usual boilerplate, and then asked him to go through a tedious process of uploading a resume. None of them really learned anything about him or his referral. No questions, no interactivity, nothing. He didn’t know what they really wanted to know about him, and they certainly weren’t providing him much that was useful.

At this point he was already a frustrated potential candidate. While in no hurry to change jobs, he was the borderline passive candidate: sort of looking, interested, easy to recruit to the right situation, and totally unknown. He is also very competent and talented.

He had also given his resume to his friends to submit to the recruiting function and had even helped a friend upload his data into an employee referral site. Yet, after several weeks he had heard nothing at all of meaning. No email, no phone call. He tried to call several times only to receive a voice mail saying they would call back, but no one ever did. He kept checking with his friends and all the positions are still open more than six weeks later.

What is going on?

Here are my thoughts:

Possibility #1: The position is not really open and the recruiting department is just collecting resumes to find out who is out there.

This has a high likelihood of being the case, but is borderline unethical and certainly does nothing to build the brand or create goodwill among people that you might someday really want to hire.

There are much better ways of finding these people.

Possibility #2: My friend does not have the qualifications that the hiring manager is looking for.

Even if this is the case, he should get the courtesy of an email or phone call letting him know that. On the other hand, if the job description is even close to accurate, he meets and exceeds most of the criteria. He is also referred by a current employee and that should, according to all that we write about on ERE, make him a higher quality candidate than an un-referred one. This also makes not getting back to him worse, and it embarrasses the employee.

Possibility #3: The position has been filed and just not taken off the website.

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Highly unlikely as he has checked with his internal friends who have told him it is still open and that the hiring manager is frustrated with the lack of good candidates.

Possibility #4: The recruiting department is inefficient and lacks good processes and discipline in dealing with candidate flow.

This is the most likely one in my mind and needs to be addressed quickly and firmly. Once this recession has ended (and for high-end jobs it was never really that bad), these poorly treated potential candidates will be hesitant to try you again.

There is really no excuse for not dealing with candidates in a systematic manner. No matter how many apply, your systems should be capable of dealing with the volume or you should remove the job posting until you can handle it. By letting more people apply than you can review and answer, you are creating an irreversible degradation in your reputation, brand, and future ability to hire the best people.

Needless to say as a foundation your department needs a set of protocols and procedures that every recruiter follows. These should lay out enforceable requirements for response time to candidates, how referral candidates are treated, what is communicated, and how shortfalls are explained to people who are declined.

Other procedures should govern how many resumes are received for a position before no more are accepted and how these are reviewed and presented to managers.

Websites need to be clear and should be interactive, interesting, and engaging. They should answer the questions candidates are likely to have with honesty. Your rules and response protocols should be publicly displayed.

Until we respond with the kind of service candidates are accustomed to from retailers and other service providers, we should be prepared for a backlash of anger and disappointment that has only grown louder over the past year.

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for ERE.net, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.


44 Comments on “We Should Be Ashamed

  1. I think #4 is most unfortunately the likeliest of scenarios. And I have seen *far* too many organizations either ask their HR Generalists/Business Partners to function as recruiters (and a good percentage of HR Generalists do not *like* to recruit), or they outsource their recruiting funciton, OR they hire junior or unqualified recruiters in an effort to “save some money”.

    This is one of those rare cases where I would advocate your friend approach the hiring manager with the resume. When a recruiting department cannot handle employee referrals professionally, it’s time to get the resume in the hands of the decision makers.

  2. Good for you Kevin,

    Thank you for telling it like it is. I have heard story after story – from HR professionals – who are now out of work and looking for jobs on how horrible the experience has been for them. Many are wondering if that (or this) is how candidates in their prior organizations were treated?

    Tough to look at things from all sides…. I think the winds of change may be upon us.

  3. Kevin:

    Great article! I am typically not cynical but, after reading your post the cynic came out of me. I started thinking about this “notion” that the best of the best are still employed. Hence in your above example these so called employed “A players” are the face of the company which happen to be managing a dysfunctional recruiting department/process. It’s frightening to think what they may be attracting in lieu of quality candidates.

    It seems to me that excellent recruiting functions have systems in place to manage the candidate experience in which, the candidate feels valued and well regarded. It’s my belief that companies with good processes in place attract and build pools of quality people. Whereas recruiting functions that lack these fundamental core abilities turn candidates off and help build a negative reputation for the organization as a whole.

  4. Kevin- GREAT article… What a blessing to start my Friday (Not afraid/ashamed to express my faith)…

    The “BEST” 3rd party search firms/recruiter’s “respond with the kind of service candidates are accustomed to” OR there out of business… (why don’t “HR/Internal Recruitment thought leaders” use that model in corp hr/recruiting?)

    Until Corp/Internal Recruting/HR behaves likes 3rd party contingent/retained search this cycle will continue.

    Lou Adler, Bill Radin, Scott Love and many others are the ones who add value to this community, and have the kind of knowledge, skills, accomplishments, in search/recruitment (I am working on that) to revolutionize the way recruiting dept. operate.

    There are many companies that behave this way (And pay very little 3rd party search fees), and one that comes to mind is NTAP.

    Have a great Friday ALL,

  5. Kevin,

    Your observations and colleague feedback is unfortunately more often true than not.

    My company has recognized the problem and offers resources to help make the candidate and employer engagement more positive. However, no one solution works, nor works all the time. There are many reasons that go beyond the control of the human resource department. To name a few:

    the hiring manager doesn’t want to relinguish control
    the hiring manager is not ready to hire
    there is an internal candidate they want to evaluate first
    the HR staff is vastly overworked
    the HR staff would rather be sourcing than doing the administrative data input
    there is no system to manage data
    the HR staff is people burned out

    Regardless, you are right. I think more companies are seeing that how they treat others is part of their total market branding position. I know for myself there are companies I won’t work with because they simmply do not value people.

    If there is any consolation at all–the rudeness you described is rampant in the public and private sectors, and in all job functions. Maybe there is an arrogance that comes with having a job, forgetting how they got the job and how their employer is able to continue to fund that position.

    I guess that I want to believe that most people are not intentionally rude–just overwhelmed and under supported.

  6. I would agree with Kristen, possibly # 4 is the likeliest of scenarios. As a Recruiting Manager and someone who has been a candidate, I always put myself in other people’s shoes. It takes 1 min to return an email from a candidate and 3 min to return a phone call. As recruiters we are generating pipelines. Candidates that inquire about positions may not be a fit for 1 opening but could be a fit for another position down the road. It’s important to always network and to provide the best candidate care!

  7. Kevin, we’re on the same page on this one. I’ve been shocked at what you’re describing for quite a while now.

    For a quick stat that caught my eye, I read in the Atlanta Journal Constitution this last weekend that there are 6 applicants for every 1 job opening today. I’m not saying this 6:1 ratio is the be-all, end-all metric . . . but it’s worth mentioning that 6:1 are not very good odds for the candidate pool.

    In my estimation, there is a direct correlation between the aforementioned metric (candidates per opening) and the treatment of the candidate pool.

    Here’s a quick funny for you . . . and it’s specific to OUR industry. I have a friend who is a highly regarded ‘Sourcer’, meaning he doesn’t actually recruit but is in the top echelon of candidate identification.

    About 2 weeks ago, he was reached out to by a Sourcing Leader at an F50 firm in regards to a Sourcing Program Manager role. Over email, he agreed to come in and “meet the team”, however when he got there, only 1 of the 6 people he was to meet were present. He then proceeded to interview with a subordinate that would report to him, as the Sourcing Leader who was to speak with him “had a meeting to attend.” Last week, he received an email from the Sourcing Leader: “We appreciate your interest but have selected another candidate. I look forward to seeing where you go next in your career.”

    It’s a crazy day when you reach out to a passive candidate through email, schedule everything through email or text messages, and then never actually meet them (let alone speak to them) when they come in. From this point on, when that particular firm comes up in conversation among the Sourcing elite, guess what happens next? Yep, the employment brand goes down in flames among the top 10% of the market that drives 90% of the positive results.

    We should know better, and I know that many will give a mulligan to the organization because of the old excuse, “Sourcing Groups aren’t good at actually recruiting anyone”, but come on already. The excuses have to stop.

    Great article and keep up the good work.

  8. I would like to call you on this article.
    I am the HR manager of a Microsoft Gold Partner specialising in .Net development in Australia.
    We are constantly looking for the best .Net talent across the world and we do not fall into any of the categories that you have specified.
    Our recruitment process is arduous as we are looking for elite developers but it is transparent and not discriminatory in anyway – positive or negative.
    We advertise globally and have a careers section on our website (www.readify.net). The position descriptions are relatively general but do reflect exactly what we are looking for.
    Every single application that is received through our website is processed in exactly the same way. It is done in a timely fashion and with integrity. Every candidate is informed of the process and is kept informed at every stage of the process. Most candidates are not successful, but every candidate is given the same opportunity.
    I am certainly not ashamed.

  9. Kevin great piece and this is a Gobal problem, at every conference I attend I hear “recruiter” admit to this problem.
    Equally at the Career workshops I run this is a huge issue amongst job seekers BUT agree also amongst career movers. Unfortunatly all get tarred with the same brush and you are correct when you say “right now we are NOT delivering a great candidate experience”.

    Microsoft have continued to invest in having “recruiting talent” but many in the slash and burn, have as you say given this key area back to “HR”. Agree it is not in the HR DNA.

    So great piece BUT key issue in the upturn whenever that might be will candidates remember? I’d like to think so but at 50 a a vet of three recessions I have doubt>

    Keith Robinson

  10. My two cents… It all comes down to responsibility and ownership. As a third party recruiter of nearly 30 years, I remember the days when SOMEONE in the company took the bull by the horns and said “this is my area of responsibilty and the buck stops here”. And they made it their business to actually answer the phone and respond to candidate inquiries.

    I think the problem is that business managers began regarding people as information and material, forgetting that there was a human face behind the bits and bites. When technology advanced it gave managers the perfect opportunity to apply supply chain management techniques to people and the applicant tracking system (or “black hole”) was born. It was a perfect vehicle to allow recruiters and managers to further disappear from the hiring process.

    I am not a Luddite, but I do object when we begin to work for the technology rather than have the technology work for us. The answer: Stop relying on your ATS, answer your phone, put your name out there and treat people with the same respect you would want for yourself. Remember, this is a people business.

  11. Hi Kevin,
    Excellent post but I will take it one step further. Where are the company CEO’s when these things are happening? My guess is that if they knew how their recruiting process was being handled this would stop. I am 10 months into a job search and I am shocked by the treatment “we” candidates are experiencing. As a recruiter I know how the process works, so you would think I have a step up, but I do not. I am experiencing the exact same thing except my resume stops in the HR/recruiting department. At least people who are applying for finance or IT get forwarded to those departments or hiring managers! I often wonder what the CEO of a company would say if he/she knew how we are being treated by their recruiting/hr teams. My guess is that they probably do not even know how the department operates. I can assure you that will change very quickly when the economy recovers and then the CEO might wonder why the company cannot attract talent. I will never forget the companies that have interviewed me and then I never hear from them again. I will never forget the recruiter from a HUGE retailer who started interviewing me by phone and had the wrong resume in front of them. When I pointed out the fact, the recruiter made an excuse to get off the phone and then I never heard from that recruiter again. Or how about the company in Albuquerque, NM who asked my salary needs in the first interview, spent 5 weeks interviewing me and then offered 40k less than the salary needs we discussed in that first interview. When I pointed out that the salary wasn’t going to work for me they immediately rescinded the offer. What do you think their CEO would say about that if he/she knew how I was treated? My guess is the CEO would be as shocked as I was. It’s just too bad the CEO will never know. I was even referred to that company! The CEO’s have to take as much blame as their recruiting/hr departments but their only excuse is lack of knowledge. If they were a great CEO they would be working very closely with the department who hires the talent, that in turn operates the company, that in turn makes a company profitable. Someday soon they will realize, but only after they are unable to hire talented candidates because the reputation of their company is ruined.

  12. The sad truth is that this article is spot on. Companies with good processes are few and far between. Having been out of work for the first time, I’m on the other side of the recruiting process. I always believe that a corporate recruitment function has to focus on the candidate experience. From the company website / career section to the interview then to the go / no go the most important thing is how you treat the candidate. From my experience as well as my out-of-work colleagues and those looking for new jobs, candidates have long memories and well, it will be very interesting as the market turns

  13. Boy Kevin, you really hit the nail on the head when you shared this all-too-common scenario and included option 4, which is surely the explanation. My corporate recruiting days include stints with companies ranging from early stage start-ups to Fortune 10, and based on my experience I believe that as organizations get larger, generally their recruiting functions get less responsive. Corporate HR departments are so tied up with compliance issues and focused on being low cost service providers that quality service is hard to deliver as organizations grow. Are there exceptions? Sure! But more often than not the scenario you describe is the way things are, which is part of the reason I prefer the TPR role, since I can be more accountable to both candidates and clients.

  14. Kevin – thanks for pointing out one of the primary flaws in recruiting. While ignoring candidates isn’t a result of electronic tools, it is extended by them. Sadly, our hiring processes are transactional and ignore relationships to the extent common courtesy often isn’t even considered. While this has been the case for many years, we’ve automated the problem now so it extends as far as the internet can carry it. Its a shame that, despite the most interactive toolkit in history, the simplest of courtesies is missing.

    Interestingly, this gap between transactional hiring processes is exactly what causes social media and referral campaigns to fail. Here hiring transactions occur as an outgrowth of relationships. Companies who figure this out will be able to add social networking to their recruiting mix. Those unable to bridge the gap will fail in the social media space. And deservedly so.

  15. Thank you again for a fine article, Kevin. Until there are incentives and resources committed toward treating candidates well and/or disincentives away from the opposite, people like us and a few million candidates will moan and groan about shoddy treatment, but nothing much will change. Companies will treat candidates like dirt because they can, and as long as the corporate branding hype-machines keep churning out a given employer as “wonderful” regardless of how many people are ill-treated during the hiring process (like one company often mentioned positively here on ERE), then the status quo will continue. There are always new people coming along (I hear they are born every minute!) who will believe whatever the men and women with the great clothes and beautiful smiles tell them and will poo-poo the warnings of their elders.

    Can things improve? Most definitely. It will require upsetting quite a few apple carts in the process, though.


    KH keithsrj@sbcglobal.net

  16. I have been working with corporate recruiting staffs the past 6 months. Here are my thoughts, and I do agree with a lot of the comments. #1 corporations do not have to respond to every resume they do not call. Thus they considered this an unsolicited resume, even if there is a real job. #2 Hiring is not #1 priority right now, even if a company is hiring. There is no urgency – sometimes companies will delay the process to move the hiring into the following quarter or whatever billing cycle that is convenient. #3 Companies have let go a lot of their hiring/staffing professionals. HR Generalists, as mentioned before, are “covering” staffing and are not evaluated by how many they do hire. Also companies are prioritizing any head count addition by the revenue it will product versus costs. Thus sales and consultants are in the bulls eye.

    But there is not EXCUSE, none whatsoever, for a company not following up with any candidate who has been called, especially after it is determined that there isn’t a fit. I always volunteered to close out candidates because it is professional respect – I owe it to them. I was taught that the hiring manager is my client and the candidate is my customer.

  17. This is a good summary of an all to old problem. This artlicle doesn’t go deep enough to root causes. In days of jobs getting cut HR looks to its recruiting and training areas to make cuts first within themselves. It is another good example of recruiting not being supported or understood by corporate HR groups. Corporate recruiting groups often get “boxed in” or not appreciated on what they could do from HR. If recruiting reported through a different area we would see less of what your friend encountered. The foundation must be solid for progress to be made.

  18. I entered into recruiting in October 2001 for one of the largest corporation in the World. At that time the US entered into a recession so there were lot’s of people in the market and we were entering our peak hiring season.

    I had to learn how to say no respectfully and congratulations at the same time. Granted this is a new era but, but one of the most valuable lesson I learned was to be a proactive recruiter vs. reactive.

    In others words people did not have to go through the back door to learn about your company. As a recruiter you came out of the ivory tower met with the HM, understood the operation and expecations of the team and what they were looking for…

    And then YOU met the candidates face to face, you sold the opportunity, you branded the organization, you managed the applicant flow, you told them respectfully NO or YES- and you identified sources that enabled you to attract the right people for your org.

    So, now that we have technology as another tool, the question is how do we leverage it to meet the demand? There are no excuses only opportunites for growth.

  19. Thank you for the posting. While I agree with much of the replies; there are organizations that have the right process, systems, technology, and talent management in place for successful business. I suspect that many organizations struggle for all four of your points. Having a leadership team with the right people, in the right seats, on the bus are equally important to move all the strategies and tactics forward.

    So –by-in large there is certainly a lack of Leadership and to some degree ethics that are contributing to the erosion of healthy companies. Unfortunately we are seeing this decay of Leadership, Character and Integrity across all industries. While we all may not be in a position of leadership, we can make sure are character and integrity are self-managed. Let’s review.

    1. Character, individuality, personality refer to the sum of the characteristics possessed by a person. Character refers esp. to moral qualities, ethical standards, principles, and the like.

    2. Integrity is the factor that determines which one will prevail. We struggle daily with situations that demand decisions between what we want to do and what we ought to do. Integrity establishes the ground rules for resolving these tensions. It determines who we are and how we will respond before the conflict even appears. Integrity welds what we say, think, and do, into a whole person so that permission is never granted for one of these to be out of sync.

    We may be working for an organization or team that doesn’t have the right process in place to recruit, source, select and follow-up. We can and should make sure the people we touch and have direct contact are getting our personal best.

  20. This is exactly the topic that I would like to throw out in a blog on what suggestions someone would have to fix this problem instead of just complaining about it. My company have over $18,000 employees and in just my division I support over 1800 employees. At any given time I may have 30-40 openings, even in a down economy. Every day I (along with the rest of the HR and recruiting staff)are inundated with resumes in my inbox from employees wanting to pass a resume along or candidates that have applied through our system but are looking for a quick human contact. A lot of the calls I get and resumes I get are not even for positions assigned to me. So I try to take time to look up the position they applied for and find out who the hiring manager is. But that is a job all in itself. Yet everyone feels that they deserve to be contacted. It is not humanly possible to respond to everyone’s requests. I get tons and tons of emails and phone messages from people saying that they know they are the perfect fit and don’t understand why they haven’t been contacted. But the truth is that for any given position, I typically have at minimum 50 to over 200 applicants apply within a 1 month timeframe. Times that by 30 job requisitions and times that by the amount of time needed to get through them all and it just can’t happen fast enough. It takes me several hours just to keep up with reviewing resumes. If their is a better way to deal with this or someone has a suggestion on a process to make this overwhelming experience work better, by all means send on the suggestions.

  21. Points well made, and I’m glad to see so many responses. I recently spoke to a candidate that I am working with and I asked him about his best and worst recruiter experiences in his current search. He is a VP level OP-EX Six Sigma Black Belt, so the majority of what he does is improve processes. He said his best experience was with a company that has been communicating with him every step of the way. Most of the companies he has applied/ interviewed with including many major companies that everyone would recognize were extremely poor. His stories are right in line with your article, and with what Josh and Wendy shared. He mentioned that in some cases it was poor recruiters and in others poor processes. The thing that blows me away though, is that this is not a new topic on ERE or any other recruiting blog, yet so few out there have tried to adapt and improve. It amazes me that after all the conferences and things that are written, people don’t look at the best practices that are described and imitate them. These are the same people whose hiring managers look at them as a human roadblock and would rather work around them than with them. I have seen it personally, as I have gone in to clean up recruiting departments in Fortune 500 and small companies. The common theme I find is that although they may have their HR certifications, they don’t continue to read and learn about how to be better in the recruiting profession. In my 15 years in this business, I have listened to others and implemented some of their best practices in addition to a little innovation of my own here and there with my teams, and you know what, it works and it makes a difference to both the candidates and to the hiring managers. I have success story after success story that I could share, but won’t right now because I am going too long as it is (feel free to contact me if you would like some ideas). There is much work to be done in this space, and not enough people out there that get it, but the more it’s exposed hopefully more recruiters will take notice and do something about it.

  22. Stephanie,

    Good points and I’m in the same boat as you. There is no way possible that I could contact every candidate that applies to my companies openings. If I iniate contact in any form, I will then carry it all the way through hire or rejection.

    I do my best to keep my candidates informed and up to date on the process and where they stand. And I do 90% of it over the phone as it should be.

    I get a lot of calls during the week from candidates following up on a resume or trying to get a hiring manager on the phone. In most cases their backgrounds are not even remotely close to what I or my internal counterparts need. But I like the fact that they are not sitting back and hitting the apply button and whining about not getting a call.

    I will spend some time with them and help they strategize their search in areas that they might not have thought about. It’s the least I can do because I do feel bad about their situation and do want to help. They have at least taken a proactive approach in trying to find employment. I will gladly spend 10-15 minutes with them.

    There will be crappy recuiters out there in both good and bad times. They are unfortunately a reality to our profession and will not be going anywhere soon.

    If I can help in any way to this group please contact me. It never hurts to network or strategize.

    John Coelho
    Corporate Recruiter
    Tetra Tech
    626.470.2520 Direct

  23. What if candidates no longer had to submit resumes to job postings? What if job postings became organic rather than static?
    We have merged discussion boards into postings. Q/As are directly attached to each posting. We have found as more Q/As are added the posting actually curtails those resumes that are not relevant from being submitted. It is another level of engagement not meant for lower performing recuiters. If you want to take engagement to another level check out our solution at http://www.bigdoghub.com We are leasing the technology to compnies for a nominal fee. We are determined to address this problem with a real solution. Sorry to all for the shameless plug but we feel we have a concept worth consideration as a solution to issues mentioned in this string.

  24. Hi Stephanie:

    First I’d like to commend you on being transparent on the challenges you face with managing your recruiting function and secondly I think that you bring valid points to the table that should be discuss.

    As you know, by definition recruiters seek out or go after their intended target whereas by contrast a recruiter administrator manages tasks. In regards to this discussion, one of the inherent issues in my mind is how the recruiting process is executed and how it must add value to the candidate experience so that it positions the company positively in the minds of job seekers. Ultimately it must achieve its intended purpose: hire the right person.

    While the obstacles you face are not unique to recruitment they represent real challenges for you and many alike. As I read your post three things came to my mind which was: flow management, communication strategies, and the referral process. Based upon your post parts of your process are managing you rather than you managing it.

    I believe that in order to effectively recruit you must get ahead of the game. In others words the recruiter must be in the driver seat proactively seeking out talent rather than responding in a reactionary mode.

    The question is how do you get to that point? It is through your process. I’ve learned that if something is not working you must step back, look at the steps in your process and determine where the inefficiencies or pain points rest. For example, if you are reduplicating work that’s inefficient. As I noted above perhaps your inefficiencies are: flow management, communication strategies, and the referral process. I would recommend that you and your team look at each of these areas, analyze the procedure, figure out what’s causing the problem with each procedure and develop solutions that require you to think outside of the box.

    I could go on and on about how to address these issues but Kevin did a great job of laying out the frame work above and ERE has great articles already written. I would be happy to continue this discussion on a Blog or other communication mediums as this is a fascinating topic.

  25. Great article and comments and I will add another slant. I haven’t read much said about the responsibility of the applicant. Even before the economy went south (now it’s even worse), I see many applicants that have no idea how to present themselves in a resume, on the phone, or think that I or the company owes them a job just because they applied. And I am not just talking about lower level jobs but very high level also. I see so many applicants that have gotten big title names in their resume but never had to think for themselves or even had the slightest clue what the big picture is or how their mistakes or ideas effect the organization. I hate to say it but the dumbing down of America continues and I see and hear it everyday from many job seekers. Yes, companies and organizations have faults and I agree with a lot of the comments but the applicant bears some responsibility also. I still think many companies are looking for the best people for the positions and not everyone is the best even when they think they are.

  26. I found this article to be nothing more than a rant. I am an HR professional with recruiting responsibility for a global company. I am inclined to put the needs of the business first; not the other way around. And above all, I am not ashamed.

  27. Holly,

    My article may have been a rant, but I fail to see how disrespecting candidates is putting the business first. No business can be ultimately successfuly if candidates are receiving poor service or are speaking ill of it. My comments are directed only at those who are not serving candidates well. If you are treating them with respect, then you should, of course, not be ashamed.

  28. The only solution I see to this is to have all applicants take a bare bones (cheap) early stage automated assessment soley based on their job qualificaions. Then have the ATS return a email explaining in greater detail than a normal TD letter where they are lacking and how they scored in those areas. This can be done and is being done by some companies. Specific detailed feedback would mitigate much of the candidate angst.

  29. Kevin,

    Your absolutely right. A company may not have any openings now in this economy, but when things turn around, the people who were slighted, ignored, not responded to, will be hesitant or deaf to out reach from those companies showed them no interest previously.

  30. Hi Warren,

    I’d like to believe that (I have a LONG hiring memory), but as Raghav Singh said (https://staging.ere.net/2009/10/07/wanted-cash-for-hires/), we may not have to worry about things turning around significantly any time soon. Also, how many ordinary folks have the luxury of deciding between a company that treats them nicely and a company that doesn’t? Finally, when is the last time senior-level staffing people (particularly at prestige employers) were “called on the carpet” for allowing any number of ordinary applicants to have dysfunctional hiring experiences? We may “tsk, tsk” all we like here, but as long as someone has the power, they can treat people almost any way they like.


  31. Community- Thanks for the comments, very interesting…

    I recently sent an invite/s (with a thoughtful note/commenting on a recent post) to one of the big 4 social networking sites, to several SR LEVEL Staffing folks (From F100), and within an hour received an acceptance/s and note back..

    I always remember the “golden rule” when I engage with people.. “treat others as I want to be treated”

    Like attracts Like…. And if the results and cirmcumstances in your personal and professional life are not congruent with your desires, it is time to look in the mirror, and/or stop vomitting on people….


  32. I like the fact that the community continues to discuss this issue. It is important, and underscores John Sullivan’s recent article positing that a company’s brand has shifted out of it’s control. In this instance, the way candidates are treated is very much in our control and it is a shame when they’re not treated well. I know companies who have not been respectful to me, or to people I know, and I avoid them (and their products). I am also keenly aware of the challenges faced by overworked recruiters, especially when your systems are deficient. This is still important, and it begins at a personal level. Recruiters need to treat candidates as applicants, not supplicants. Empathy and respect need to be built into our behavior and systems, just as our organization does with it’s ‘regular’ customers.

  33. Keith:

    I think there are great companies out there that “get it”; in fact, I am inclined to believe that they are a head of curve. Perhaps the problem is these companies are few, far and in between or maybe not.

    We live in an instant society where everything is focused upon mass production and quick results. There’s a notion that the “magical button” will fix our problems. All of a sudden we can bypass hard work, quality and great service to meet the needs of our customers by simply clicking “buy now”.

    The problem with this approach is that we’ve lost touch with importance of listening, building relationships, customization, word of mouth and providing reliable service. Somewhere we sacrificed quality for quantity and look at where it’s gotten us… Sadly, we are not willing to listen to the customer because we know best…

    Fortunately, one way or another the voice of the customer will be heard.

  34. Thank you, Heidi. A number of companies DO get it- I’ve worked for some and interviewed with others. Many others either don’t and say they don’t or at least don’t say they do, and many pretend to “get it” and don’t really. These are the NASTY ones…


    Too busy? Burned out? Don’t really care, but still want to make certain that all applicants have A WORLD-CLASS HIRING EXPERIENCE, just like YOU’D want to have?
    Now through the WONDERS OF TECHNOLOGY, you DON’T have to keep in touch with your hordes of applicants because SOMEON.E ELSE CAN DO IT FOR YOU! (This was from me, not anybody else- kh)

    (This [below] is what I found. I spoke to their sales rep a few minutes ago.-kh)

    Go ahead – Try out our Virtual Solutions. We will do our very best to exceed your expectations. We make your business our business!

    Live Receptionist Services (with folks from the USA- kh)

    Instant Online Set-Up <?No Long-Term Contracts <?No Equipment to Buy <?No Hassles <






    Live Receptionist Answering Mo-Fri, 8am EST – 8pm EST

    Live Call Screen, Transfer, Forwarding

    Calendar/Appointment Scheduling
    Order Processing & Customer Service

    Live Outbound & Sales Calling

    TollFree Or Local Phone/Fax NumbeR

    Voicemail & Voicemail To Email
    Electronic Fax & Fax To Email
    Email Address & Secure Messaging

    Web-Based Command Center With Online Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Email

    Live Answering Minutes
    * live billing calculations
    are based on 1 sec increments
    50 minutes (3,000 secs)
    100 minutes (6,000 secs)
    250 minutes(15,000 secs)
    600 minutes(36,000 secs) –

    Long Distance Minutes
    250 minutes
    500 minutes 1250 minutes 3000 minutes
    1000 minutes


    Your comments….


  35. It appears we are not alone in our discontent….

    “Undercurrent of disrespect pervading the job seeking experience”

    A writer on the Monster Blog has been tracking her own six-month job search through various frustrations, including a recent interview that featured a put down followed by a question of when she could start. So the writer was astonished when:

    The very next day, I received a call from the recruiter who told me the firm decided not to proceed with my candidacy because I didn’t have the necessary marketing skills. What a rollercoaster ride that was, to say the least.

    The experience that Jane Allerton wrote about for Monster seem all too common in this job market. If this has happened to you find what little comfort comes from not being alone.

    Posted By: Tom Abate (Email) | October 22 2009 at 08:30 AM

    Listed Under: Jobs

    Share | Email

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gettowork/detail?entry_id=49984&o=2&gta=commentslistpos#commentslistpos#ixzz0V4FkabQw

  36. Keith, to your point, I personally believe that many recruiters often discount or overlook the psychological wrestling match it can be when dealt so many blows during a job search. I say ‘wrestling match’ in lieu of ‘beatdown’, although I lean toward the latter. None of us are perfect – as for myself, I can hear a candidate recount a recent experience and some of thing sting more than others. Yet, during the interview, many are looking for what amounts to ‘scripted answers’ to our questions – either they mention our ‘keywords’ during the phone screen . . . or they get a rejection email a week later, right?

    I’m not saying this from a “pie in the sky” perspective, meaning I understand that true 1-to-1 communications (ala the too oft-failed CRM promise) and true 1-to-1 recruiting relationships aren’t always possible. Recruiting organizations don’t have the capacity or manpower to “keep every customer 100% satisfied” . . . and frankly, they shouldn’t. That’s why the notion of true Six-Sigma customer satisfaction, not to mention quality, is not only impossible, but not economically feasible. And Six-Sigma recruiting? If anyone tells you they’ve achieved this (or a vendor promises they can help you achieve this), your b.s. radar ought to be going off in a big way 😛

    Yet the responses I see in regards to this challenge are often tied to ‘improving the process’. Sure, there may be room for process improvement (there almost always is, in fact), but how about an improvement in the operators of the process? I can count multiple instances where companies have become slaves to their own process, thereby losing the ability to throw the entire process away and draw a better one up from scratch on a whiteboard.

    For example, have you ever seen a job ad for a Recruiter that notes anything along the lines of a “healthy passion to work with, consult, and guide people, both internal and external to our company?” Nope, we see other requirements like, “must have experience in a high-volume hiring environment.” My question is, can’t both exist? Personally, I think so . . . but it comes down to hiring the right operators and owners of the process itself.

    Ok, back to hitting the phones and speaking with people (no, not candidates or ‘process inputs’ . . . ‘people’ just works better for me!) 🙂

  37. Sorry, typo in my post (as usual, apparently!)

    “None of us are perfect – as for myself, I can hear a candidate recount a recent experience and some of thing sting more than others.”

    I meant “and some things sting more than others.”

    That’s what I get for typing entirely too fast and editing on the fly 🙂

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