How To Lose Candidates And Alienate People

How To Lose Candidates And Alienate People

Written By Kate Wass

How To Lose Candidates And Alienate People

We are in the 21st Century…and candidates SHOULD be at the centre of what we do. Let’s be real for a moment. Candidates are key to our success – they are the one thing that stands between success and failure as a recruiter.

But I would be bold and say 40% of recruiters treat their candidates like shit. Treating a candidate badly can destroy the reputation of you/ your business. Any press isn’t always good press, trust me candidates talk. And they talk even more when they have had a bad experience.

So, here’s what not to do: 

1.    Sell Them The Dream…  

I get it…recruitment marketing is a hot topic right now, everyone is getting training on how to write engaging job adverts, how to be witty and get candidates attention etc. That doesn’t mean you have a to be a billy bullshitter. Don’t sell the candidate the dream – unless of course, the job is Chief Wine Taster at an exclusive hotel in the Bahamas – because who would turn that down? 

Anyway, my point is, be honest with a candidate when talking about a role. Yes, tell them all the good things about the role, but tell them all the bad things too! Talk them through the client’s challenges and shortcomings. 

Jobs aren’t all about flexible working and table tennis tournaments, sometimes companies are in a bad situation, don’t have the best brand etc. and that’s ok, in fact, some people like that about a job!  

2.    Force A Candidate Into A Role They Aren’t Sure On 

Picture this. After hours of searching on LinkedIn and your job boards, you come across the holy grail of candidates. Your purple squirrel, glittery unicorn, whatever you want to call them. They are the perfect candidate for your role 

You pick up the phone, excited to tell your candidate about their dream job. But to your shock, they aren’t keen. 

Newsflash. Just because they are perfect for the role, doesn’t mean the role is perfect for them. Respect their decision 

Don’t try and push them into going for an interview. Don’t even push them to apply if they aren’t keen. You look desperate and pushy. 

You risk them being offered the job and turning it down, or worse, you risk them leaving in that elusive rebate period.  You also risk them thinking you are a bit of an idiot and that you only care about your fee.

3.    Drag Your Candidate Into An Ownership War With Another Agency 

It is the most frustrating thing in the world when you spend time qualifying, meeting and briefing a candidate on a role, send them over to your client…only to get the dreaded email response 

‘We have already received this CV from Cowboy Recruitment, sorry’ 

The candidate has not been spoken to by Cowboy Recruitment about the role (they claim!) so doesn’t know how her CV is already in the process.  

There are two ways of dealing with this

-    Politely step away from the situation and allow the candidate to decide how they wish to proceed in the process

-    Demand that the candidate calls the other recruiter immediately and tell them how terrible they are, whilst simultaneously emailing you to confirm that you have the right to represent them on the role

I advise the first. Step away and allow the candidate to decide how they proceed. Naturally, there is some subtle influence you can have on this but doing the second option makes you look like a petulant teenager.

Candidates also don’t need the reminder that they are simply just a fee to you – it makes you look greedy. Show them you are supportive and have their best interest at heart. 

4.    Call Your Candidate On The Morning They Are Due To Start Their New Job And Then Every Day For The Next 3 Months 

Your candidate isn’t an 18-year-old teenager who may or may not turn up to work, depending on how pissed they were the night before (apologies to any sober, reliable 18-year olds) 

You don’t need to ring them the day they start their job. A simple call the afternoon before, to check they have everything they need, or the following day will suffice. 

Candidates are intuitive, they will sense that the fact you are calling them every day means they are a flight risk. Also, their first few weeks are really full on. Give them some space and allow them to settle in, then check in with them. 

5.    If Your Candidate Doesn’t Get Offered The job…. Ignore Them 

In my opinion, this is literally the worst possible thing you could do to a candidate and it is the most damaging thing for your reputation. 

Nobody really likes to tell a candidate they didn’t get the job…but it is not acceptable to ghost them. Other unacceptable ways of delivering feedback include emailing, leaving a voicemail, or getting your Resourcer to give the feedback instead. 

Don’t be a terrible human being. Your candidate has worked hard for you, they have understood the brief, done their research, spent 2-3 hours of their time with your client to represent you to the best of their ability. The least they deserve is some honest feedback 

6.    Give Vague Feedback 

Almost as crappy as giving no feedback, is giving vague feedback. If you are giving feedback on your opinion to a candidate, don’t be afraid to tell them the truth.  

Think their CV needs some work? Tell them.

Don’t think they interview well? Tell them.

They don’t have the right skills for the role? Tell them 

You get the gist. 

A separate challenge is when a client gives vague feedback about a candidate. It is ok to push back on your client and ask for further detail or examples of what the candidate did. 

Feedback should be constructive. Tell them what they did well, where they fell down and how they could improve. 

Candidates may not always agree with the feedback, but they will be appreciative of the feedback nonetheless. 

7.    Only Communicate By Email

If you are afraid to pick up the phone to speak to a candidate, you are in the wrong job. Pick up the phone and speak to them, what is the worst that could happen? It takes as much time and effort to speak to someone on the phone as it does to type out that email.

Contacting people exclusively by email is impersonal, impractical and to be totally honest, just bloody lazy! I don’t care if your candidate isn’t based in the UK and there is a time difference, or if they are travelling, or you are ‘super busy’…pick up the phone!!! 

Now I’m sure some of you are reading this, thinking it all seems pretty obvious. I’m also sure a lot of you reading this are guilty of doing one of the above things

We are all guilty of letting standards slip from time to time, but let’s do our best not to become one of the clichés in those recruitment bashing posts we see on Linkedin!



In Defence Of KPIs

In Defence Of KPIs