The Art of Communicating

The Art of Communication is today’s subject choice.  This covers both the importance of communicating and also the optimal channels for communication.  As ever, my subject matter is usually related to the day to day activity that I experience and in the past couple of weeks I’ve had a few comms based mishaps so I thought it was an optimal time to talk about it. 

So… I had a candidate up at second stage with a client. It went really well, the candidate had met the team informally for drinks and  they wanted to make an offer.  The candidate then went awol, didn’t reply to phone messages, emails or texts.  For 3 days.  As a recruiter, it’s very difficult to keep a client ‘in the loop’ when there is no feedback to give.  We’re caught between a rock and a hard place because you don’t want the client to think badly of the person they ideally want to hire!   If the candidate has ‘gone cold’ then that’s a bit of a red flag - for the recruiter and the client.

However, the candidate then responded by text to say they had a few irons in the fire and they wanted to see how things panned out.  Again, I requested a chat so I could keep the client informed with where they stood in the priority order.  I understand that the candidate is in a full time job and it’s often tricky to talk during work hours.  However, as with most recruiters, we’re used to chatting out of hours and over weekends if necessary.    As it stands, I had to relay this information to the client and keep things upbeat so that they stayed positive too. 

Again, a few days of radio silence.  Now 10 days post second interview. I’d advised the client that we should be interviewing back-up candidates as there were no guarantees but the client seemed to find it odd that the candidate had been so keen, and then had backed off.  In the current climate, in client services, candidates at the AE to AM level do have choice, it’s a competitive market out there so I do expect candidates to have multiple interviews, however, it’s optimal if the lines of communication stay open and candidates are honest about where they are up to.  Recruiters can then manage expectations accordingly and there are no nasty surprises.

3 days later, the candidate texted to say they had decided to stay put in their existing role.  They’d had a chat with their boss who didn’t want to lose them and had offered a pay rise.  

Ultimately I’d kept the client abreast of the situation as best I could.  With only text messages to go on, I’d been honest with him too - I’d not been able to have a physical conversation in spite of many efforts.    Fortunately he was pragmatic, yes disappointed that the candidate had essentially disappeared but I don’t think either of us were very surprised by the decision and we have a couple of interviews booked for this week.

I had quite a long conversation with the client where we reviewed that in the past - every important conversation was done by phone.  The personal touch.  However (and it’s hard to write this without sounding like a grumpy old lady dissing the younger generations), more often than not now, I’ll receive breezy texts with people withdrawing from interviews, telling me they’re running late etc.  I’m not unreasonable - I myself rely on WhatsApp, texts and emails for a huge amount of the communication that I do.  I just think it’s important for all of us to recognise when an actual conversation needs to be had.  It feels that there is a lack of awareness as to just how important it is!   As I’ve said before, this is a small world and people do remember poor communication.  

I’ll counter this and say it’s not always candidates who don’t communicate!  The most common non communication from a client is post interview if the person isn’t right.  Trying to have constructive feedback is often very difficult and often the client has moved onto the next candidate.   I’ve one client who always feeds back during the interview which is an interesting way of doing it - but at least the candidates receive genuine feedback and are not fobbed off with ‘not the right fit’.

And Recruiters too.  We also have a duty to keep communicating, to be honest, to be truthful and ultimately that’s what building relationships is all about.    It’s just important to recognise when a proper chat needs to be had!

Written by Fiona. 27 April 2024.