Why Recruiters Lose Candidates

Being a job seeker again showed me the many ways the recruiting process has changed, for better and for worse. While looking for work, currently and in the past, I’ve worked with some fantastic recruiters who provided a great candidate experience from start to finish, but that is beginning to be far and few between. Unfortunately, bad experiences with recruiters have somehow become commonplace. Yet, these are the same recruiters who are wondering why they’re losing candidates right and left.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sit on a high horse. During my talent acquisition career, I’ve definitely made some recruiter faux pas. But I learned from it and changed my approach. Some bad experiences with recruiters were obviously a one-off event, while others blatantly show that it’s an ingrained function. Perhaps they’re in an environment that promotes that sort of behavior. Maybe they were trained that way, or not trained at all. Or maybe they just don’t belong in a role that deals with people in this capacity. Regardless, here are some of the top reasons that make candidates not want to work with recruiters:

 

  • They don’t listen: In many cases, candidates will tell a recruiter what they do and do not want out of an opportunity. Some things would be salary, job function, company culture, benefits, type of employment (i.e. temp, contract, perm) and distance. Some things may be negotiable but there is at least one that is firm. Despite recruiters knowing this, some still aggressively pitch jobs that clearly do not meet the requirements set by the candidate. After a couple of times, a candidate could become frustrated by the fact that the recruiter clearly didn’t listen or didn’t care about the expectations set forth.
  • They’re too pushy: This one kills me. Recruitment is not supposed to make people feel like they’re being pressured by a creepy car sales person or an obsessive ex. There is no need to call someone, leave a voicemail, send an email and send a LinkedIn invite and THEN call again within the hour if someone doesn’t answer. Even if we were free, that many touches in that short amount of time is overwhelming. The same could be said about pressuring a candidate to do an interview with a company/job they aren’t 100% sure about. If a candidate says they need a day to think about it, give them the day to think about it. Hounding them to make a decision and trying so hard to sell a position during their thinking period can be a huge turn off for many candidates.
  • They aren’t respectful of people’s time and/or situations: I completely understand that there’s a level of urgency in recruiting. Hiring managers are demanding candidates for positions that may have been needed to be filled weeks ago. That pressure can trickle down to the recruiters and some may not be able to mask that high level of stress when they’re talking to candidates. For one example (and this has happened on more than one occasion), I’ve had a recruiter call me about an opportunity and ask me to go in for an on-site interview within a couple hours. They barely explained the job or the company. A couple hours wouldn’t be enough time to even do extensive research on the company/opportunity. But besides that, the recruiter knew I was still working somewhere else at the time.Even if I wasn’t working, why do some recruiters think people can just drop everything and run to an interview? I’ve heard recruiters claim candidates aren’t serious about finding a job, otherwise going to a same-day interview wouldn’t be an issue.  But working candidate or not, there are some other situations that may not make it feasible, such as: the fact that a candidate needs time to research a company to even see if it is what they’re looking for; coordinating logistics around kids; transportation issues (especially if people commute via public transit); other responsibilities in life, such as caring for someone/something other a child; continuing their education; and so on.Once again, I understand a level of urgency and candidate control. Recruiters can’t let candidates lollygag, but there is also a line that shouldn’t be crossed. The aforementioned are understandable and recruiters shouldn’t be rude or blackball someone if a candidate reasonably asks them to respect their time and situations.
  •  It’s all take and no give: Some recruiters will bombard a candidate nonstop every day with phone calls and emails, trying to get the candidate interested in a role or trying to prevent the candidate from falling out of the interview loop. But if something doesn’t work out, some recruiters may fall off the face of the earth. For example, if a candidate who didn’t get hired or pulled out of the interview process decides to connect with the recruiter about other opportunities, they may be met with silence. After days, weeks or even months of a recruiter staying tight with them, suddenly they disappear. This only shows a candidate that the recruiter wasn’t trying to forge a professional relationship and that the candidate was quickly discarded once the recruiter had no need for them. Even if the recruiter had nothing available, a simple email or phone call saying as much could keep that relationship intact.

Taking a new job or changing a job is not as simple as buying a pack of gum. This is someone’s livelihood and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Even if a candidate is in a very bad situation, such as being underemployed, unemployed or in a hostile work environment, that still doesn’t mean they are willing to jump at any opportunity. A candidate is looking for something better, whether that is better promotion opportunities, culture, salary, benefits, or what have you. The point is, they are taking special care to make sure they’re trading up, even if it’s a slight change. Therefore, let them have a moment to breathe and assess their options before making a decision. It can save a lot of time and headaches for all parties involved. If recruiters continue to give a negative candidate experience, they may not only lose a candidate for the current position they are recruiting for, but indefinitely.

* Note: I am not generalizing all recruiters, because there are plenty who are great at their jobs. This is merely a post to showcase why some candidates aren’t willing to work with ones who have these traits.

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2 thoughts on “Why Recruiters Lose Candidates

  1. Rebecca

    I couldn’t agree more with your comments – thank you for posting this! I’m currently employed but looking, and I am having all these experiences with recruiters. If I don’t pursue the first job they mention, they disappear. I ask them to contact me by email as I don’t have a private office, and they harass me with phone calls (8 VMs in 2 days from a recruiter last week). I tell them what I am looking for and they present unrelated or lower level jobs. I ask whether the position could be upgraded and they say no but assure me the duties are at the level I am seeking. Why would I want the responsibilities without the title? And don’t even get me started on the invasive requests like being asked to reveal my current salary. I’ve even been asked to lie to the hiring manager “just to get you an interview – then we’ll tell them you need relo assistance.”
    Very few recruiters add any value to the hiring process, and when a company uses a recruiter who employs these and other pressure tactics, it makes me question whether I want to work for that company. Hiring managers: the recruiter you choose reflects on you. Please remember the evaluation process goes both ways!

  2. Good post! Current scenario is like Recruitment are being handled to agencies. They post a job and in return get plenty of responses. They screen most of the profile and go for the one both talents and fall on their pay scale. But in this process they fail to acknowledge the other screen profiles. which is not a good professional approach. when they let know about their result they would either prepare or look for other jobs. this should be changed.

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