September 21, 2011

Unsavory Recruiting Tasks

Unsavory Recruiting TasksEarlier today, I received a call from a very good client of mine.  Unfortunately it was bad news; the candidate who was to start Monday is now a no go.  Turns out his background investigation didn’t come back as uneventful as we would have hoped.  (Sigh)

On my way back into the office to talk to my lead Recruiter and coordinate the bad news, I counted the lost dollars, shook my head in disgust and wondered at my bad luck.  (Just prior to that call, I had lost a candidate, had an offer come in 10K too low, and spilled coffee on my shirt. All in all, not the best day.)

When I got to the office my Recruiter and I discussed the situation and hopped on a conference call with the candidate to break the bad news.  We told him that it looked like the job offer was being pulled off the table due to results of his background.  We should have expressed our regrets and moved on, but instead, we found ourselves talking to the candidate, asking him some questions and seeing if there was any possibility that this was a misunderstanding.  I think we probably gave him false hope that this could be taken care of.  Maybe it can, but realistically, probably not.  So why didn’t we just break the bad news and move on?  Probably because we were loathe to lose the placement, but even more so, because it’s hard as heck to take a job offer away from someone.

Contrary to popular opinion, Recruiters are by and large pretty nice people.  We have to be empathetic…we work with the public day in and day out and essentially spend the bulk of our time counseling both our candidates and our clients. So when it comes to crushing someone’s hopes, no, we don’t like it. We hate it.  We try to avoid it.  But we can’t.  Here’s what I mean.

  • Bad References: This one is always hard for Recruiters.  When we’ve invested our time in a candidate and have gotten to the point that we’re checking references, we’re in the candidate’s corner. So when a reference comes back terrible, it stinks. It stinks more so when you know that person is a ‘trusted’ reference for your candidate.  I think at that point almost all recruiters want to call their candidate and say, “Hey, stop using that guy. He really doesn’t think highly of you.” But you know what? We can’t.  And that’s makes it ten times harder.  No words of wisdom on this one.  It just kinda stinks.
  • Personal Hygiene: This is one of those unfun, just plain awkward moments for Recruiters.  It can happen after an interview when a Manager calls you and tells you there was something stinky (literally) about the candidate.  It can happen when you meet the candidate and know they’re perfect for the job, but they don’t look it. As a Recruiter it can sometimes fall to us to break embarrassing news to your candidates.  I mean, is there ever an easy way to tell someone they smell bad or need to wear newer, not musty clothes? Not really.
  • Bad Hiring Managers:  Here’s one of the ones I hate most.  Have you ever had a Hiring Manager just be a bad interviewer? In the sense that they essentially convince the candidate they have the job simply because they don’t know how to end an interview?  It’s never fun to break the news to a candidate once they’ve essentially been promised the job.  They’re confused, blind-sided and want to blame you.  And they should feel that way. Thank you bad Hiring Manager for costing me a future candidate. Awesome.
  • Rescinding Offers:  My pet-peeve of the day.  So my candidate (who I really like) fails his background investigation and I’m not privy to the results.  Yet, it is me and my Recruiter calling to break the news.  Now normally if someone fails their background I move on quickly; after all they probably know what’s on the background and should have told me something when we first discussed the fact that a BI was part of the process.  But sometimes it’s just tough.  My candidate today was floored and had no idea what had happened.  And I believe him.  Taking a job away from someone who thought they had it (especially when they’ve already quit their other job) is heart breaking, particularly when you know they have a family and two small children.  Recruiters aren’t made of stone and crushing someone’s hopes and calling their mortgage payment into question can be crushing.

At the end of the day, our job isn’t all roses and sunshine; or should I say commissions and bonuses.  A Recruiter’s day to day can be filled with disappointment, frustration and painful news.  So Recruiters, keep your head up and keep moving.  And critics? Realize that we’re not cold or cruel and that we deal with a lot on a daily basis.

Read more in Candidate Management

Christine Santacroce is the Head of Market Development for After nearly 10 years in a successful recruiting practice, Christine joined the Recruiter team to help design new and more effective solutions for Candidates, Recruiters and HR Professionals alike. At Recruiter, we strive to ensure that candidates have a more seamless, transparent job search and Talent professionals have easy access to some of the best professionals across the globe.
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