10 Mar 2012

Candidates, don't go AWOL...


Honestly, this isn’t a rant. Really it’s not.  OK, it sort of is.

Here’s the thing.

We’re all human.  Recruiters understand that, clients understand that.  Life’s tough. It’s often hard to make time for interviews, particularly if you have a demanding job, have taken off lots of time recently, had too many ‘appointments’, have a suspicious boss etc.  Then, when you’ve got an offer, you can’t decide, haven’t had time to really think about it, may want to see how other interviews go,  another pitch has come up, what to do?

Your relationship with your Recruitment Consultant should be a strong one, you should trust them.  It is absolutely essential that you’re up front and honest with them.

I’ve got two recent case studies to share with you:

CASE STUDY ONE -  interview AWOL

It’s not quite the dog ate my homework but….

Arrange candidate interview with a leading agency
Candidate calls the day before to postpone
Recruiter explains so client absolutely fine, understands
Recruiter reschedules interview
Candidate calls the day before to postpone
Client fine, understands
Recruiter reschedules interview
Candidate doesn’t turn up for interview
Client not fine.  Is hacked off.  Has rescheduled three times, it’s rude. 
Week later, candidate decides they really do want the move but client is no longer willing to see them.


Agency life is particularly busy, hectic, chaotic.  Pitches are ongoing, there’s day to day client management to do, project implementation.  Trying to get out for an interview is hard work.  The ‘rant’ isn’t actually about scheduling and rescheduling interviews, it happens, we expect it.  However, not turning up and not notifying anyone is not OK, nor are made up excuses (I’d rather explain that you had a key pitch for a client – which shows your commitment rather than the car broke down for the 4th time…*).  In this day and age of technology, no-one will understand that you couldn’t nip out for 5 minutes ‘to the toilet’ and make a quick call.   Everything is fine if you communicate, the recruiter can smooth things over and explain etc.  But no contact at all?  Makes you look unprofessional in a way that any recruiter will find difficult to cover.  If you think it’s going to be difficult to get out of the office, advise in advance so if something does go pear shaped, it’s not a huge surprise.  We tend to recommend interviewing at the start or end of the day and most clients are happy to accommodate that.  If you’re really struggling, it’s best to tell us – we’ve even got clients who will interview at weekends (they’re the really understanding ones).  At no time is silence ever a good option.

CASE STUDY TWO – Post offer AWOL

Candidate interviews with client
Client and candidate love each other
After a second interview, they still love each other
Brilliant!
Client makes offer
Candidate initially pleased
Candidate avoids calls from recruiter for the following 5 days
Client (and recruiter) increasingly concerned
Concern turns to irritation (I’m playing this down…)
On day 6, candidate rings recruiter.  Talks initially about the weather (really!)
Candidate turns the offer down

In this case they may see it as not a big loss but it is a small industry and word does get around.  It would have been a different story if they had decided to go for it as they were in danger of pushing the client to change their mind.

Ultimately, communication is absolutely key in this process. The recruiter has to keep talking with both the candidate and the client.  It’s their job.  The client needs to be kept in the loop as to how the candidate feels about the opportunity and the offer and the candidate in turn, needs to (honestly) tell the recruiter how keen they are on the role.  Recruiters expect good candidates to have multiple opportunities on the go simultaneously, we expect counter offers, we expect and appreciate that candidates need time to think and review an offer and to take time on what is a very important decision.  However, going off radar, not returning calls and sending one line texts is unhelpful.  Bear in mind that we have a client to keep happy and if you’re not that keen on the role, we need to manage the client’s expectations and most of all, keep that door open for you until you decide.

Many candidates do feel that recruiters are only concerned with the £££.  Clearly that’s a consideration but particularly in our sector, we’re fortunate that there are several professional recruiters who do put the needs of the candidate first, ensure that the opportunities that they present are relevant and manage the recruitment process well.  Most recruiters will give proper and balanced advice to candidates so don’t be scared of sharing your thoughts with them.  If you don’t want to accept an offer, that’s fine, we can live with that and so can the client.  However, it’s not fair to leave things in limbo.  If you need more time to make a decision, tell us, we can again manage the client expectations.  If the client gets a bit shirty that you’re taking too long, they’ll be a lot shirtier if you don’t return calls. The longer you leave it, the more the client thinks that they may have made a mistake in making an offer.  So really it’s best to just be honest with the recruiter and decide on a plan of what to communicate with the client.  Then we’re all happy.  You’ve got time to make the right decision and the recruiter can be left to manage the client.

So.  Rant over.  These two case studies are both good candidates (on paper) who ultimately haven’t got great communication skills.  I hope they’ll be very happy in their new roles.  Really!  I work with candidates over time. I’m not in it for the quick buck but for the long haul.  Having been in the industry for several years, I continue to maintain relationships with candidates over the years and work on a ‘if I don’t place you this time around, come back to me in a couple of years, let’s stay in touch’.  This industry is too small to fall out with people or have people thinking badly of you, communication is the key!


*  Note that you should never, ever use an excuse of death/funerals/hospital visits unless it’s true.  I have had candidates in the past with 7 grandparents, several dogs etc, just not good Karma.  Also, really, food poisoning isn’t that believable and if you are going down that route, don’t embellish with details of the (fake culprit) Indian/Chinese takeway – a dead giveaway!