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The dark arts of the disappearing recruiter...

Updated: Jun 30, 2021

Life is really, really hard right now. If you aren't directly affected by redundancy, then for certain you know somebody who is. So when considering applying for a new job, it is hard enough in good winds, but in a shit storm.... its really crippling. This piece will take us through the devil of looking for work. Using my personal experiences and the opinions and voices of others - lets see if we can get your head in the right space, with a mixture of empathy and understanding.


The backdrop to this, is that by the end of 2020, the unemployment number in the UK looks like being some way over 10%. In 2020 recruitment is under the spotlight. In late 2020, there will be all sorts of people with great skill looking for work - some of which may be over 50, some may be BAME, some may be disabled, some may be women - all have become available for work through no fault of their own, and are good people, highly skilled and needing the help of highly responsive, empathetic, hard working recruiters. Whether recruiting for 1 role or as an agent - The recruitment World needs to take notice.


So lets start with the top of the list of annoyances... what are the reasons that you haven't heard back from a recruiter or employer? Lets start at the beginning, the application...


Honestly ? They cannot be arsed. There can be no other reason than that.These are ambassadors of the business they represent, and yet, their glass of give a f**k for you a potential client or employee, is so empty, they don't feedback anything... even a simple no would be better than the ignorant vacumn they leave between you. I would like to say it is rare, and that the majority of applications are treated with respect, fairly and without prejudice.... but to say that, would make me a liar, and a liar I am not. For example, I am an experienced guy, I send my CV in to 11 people, for roles I have done in the past or I am entirely suitable for.... how many responses do I get ? After the standard automated holding email of course.... blah blah blah


ONE


Just one - a personal response from Simon


Not even a thank you from the rest.


You see, silence isn't always golden. We all have that friend who replies to your texts rather late, if at all. But a friend forgetting to reply with 'yes, let's go out on Friday and get lashed' is far more forgivable than a recruiter not replying to your job application, or even worse, not giving feedback on your interview. So, in an age where we have a plethora of communication vehicles, so easy to use, and all readily available for instant messaging...  why are candidates pumping hours into perfecting an application form and CV, only to receive nothing but silence from the very people that are asking for that effort ?

This practice of disappearing without a trace, being rude and generally displaying no care, is a behavior defined by cutting off all communication suddenly and without explanation, leaving you to wonder what happened. This diabolical practice is called 'ghosting'. Generally, ghosting occurs at the point when it becomes really rude to disappear without a trace - just the right timing to really upset you, usually after interview, but not always. Sometimes, you may get ghosted because the recruiter isn't doing a great job or other times because their priorities change.


But regardless of excuses, No feedback. No email. No phone call. Its a damned disgrace, and if you are a recruiter sitting in a position, where you have let this happen, then you too are a damned disgrace.

So, what happens to our CV once we send it off to a recruiter and why don't we always hear back?

Well, its like this, the future is here. First point is as above - the average recruiter doesn't give a 2 penny fart what you think. They are only interested in 2 things 1. The theoretically perfect fitting profile, based on keywords and 2. Getting paid for it... yes, this is a sales job ladies and gents, don't ever confuse it as something different. Of course when I say average, I mean run of the mill - not all recruiters are like this - I might name some good ones later...


The second point is proper Robocop stuff. You see, rather than the approval of a human, the algorithm of a machine can say whether you are a match for the position applied for - like a cyberspace Joaquin Phoenix in a remake of Gladiator for the year 3000, judging your worthiness as a job seeking Russell Crowe. Thumb up the Emperor says yes, your CV lives to fight another day, in the hands of a human being - but thumb down, the Emperor says no and your CV gets ditched into no mans land. Scary thought, but it happens right now, today.

It's now 2020 and pretty much everything we do is controlled by robots. This disturbs me somewhat, because with our technological advances, for example with self-serve checkouts - you can't even scan your shopping without an issue - so, why on earth would you ever knowingly trust your precious CV and the data contained within it, to a robot ? However, these machines are in use, and are known as Applicant Tracking Systems. The salesman for this tech would say, that in order to deal with the overwhelming number of applications a job post receives, recruiters need these automated solutions in order to wean out the 'good' from the 'bad'. So, It basically scans CVs for keywords that relate to the job role applied for, then determines their relevance before either passing them through or casting them to a reject pile. If jobseekers were able to see some of the reasons their CVs get automatically rejected, frustration would I am sure boil over. I mean, does it not stand to reason that if this machine can decide whether your actual skills and experience matches the role, it can also decide whether you are too old, the wrong sex, the wrong ethnicity, poorly matched sexual preference.... the list is long - in fact the list is as long as the recruiter wants it to be.... this might be a conspiracy theory, but makes perfect sense to me.


FACTS:


So is there a way to effectively bypass these robots and regain control of your application's fate? Well, fortunately yes. As sad as it might seem that we have to do this, optimising your CV for an Applicant Tracking System is necessary if you are to have any hope of it being seen. Here's the most significant ones into an infographic :


Have we yet got to any legitimate reasons for a recruiter's radio silence?... Other than to blame technology?

And

What about headhunters and recruitment consultants... Are they not supposed to be professionals at this?


Through my own career, I have dealt with many recruiters, some brilliant, and highly recommended even though they didnt place me - some dodgy as f**k, even though they did! This has given me a particularly good insight into the world of a recruiter and helped me to understand the post-interview process, and why there might be 'ghosting' going on.

Having said that though, when I pressed into why delays happen with recruiters, their responses have been shambolic. Below are some of the most common points recruiters raised when answering the question:

Cut the crap. Why is it taking forever to reply?

A: the key decision maker is not available They say: Even recruiters have holidays to take, meetings to attend and general tasks that can delay the process. Sometimes sign off for a position (particularly a senior role) can take longer than usual for this reason.

I say: Garbage. Get yourself organised, interim feedback costs nothing, stop being so rude.

A: it is a slow recruitment process They say: this is more common than you might think, companies sometimes purposely drag out the entire process in order to see who is exceptionally keen for the role.

I Say: Seriously! Just piss off you condescending arsehole

A: Bearer of bad news - You're not quite as good as the other guy They say: It's human nature to hate being the bearer of bad news. If a recruiter knows how much a position meant to you, but they found someone more suitable, letting you down gently can seem a daunting task. So much so, a lot of recruiters postpone this call and almost repress the whole situation. I say: fair play, so I was pipped to the post on this occassion, they ticked more boxes than me - all that is fair... but ignoring me because you are a wimp, is quite simply outrageous. Grow a pair.

A: we will email you the outcome

They say: They have to deliver this bad news to hundreds of people (which also takes time). While this might seem frustrating to comprehend, put yourselves in their shoes.

I say: Email is a 'get out'. I'd honestly prefer no email to one of those pre-scripted, generic rejections. If I justified an individually scripted email, I justified a phone call - if you think I deserve a generic vanilla response, why not just tell me to bugger off at interview... because you knew i didn't fit then.

A: how long is the longest step in the process is that from interview to notifying the candidate of their success/failure? They say: The answer to this could be how long is a piece of string but that would be facetious! In my humble opinion, on average it usually takes my clients to get back to me within a few days from interview, stating their interest in offering my candidate the position. I say: There are a number of occasions that it takes a week or two, but after this you can bet your house that you're unsuccessful. Either way, at this point I will have turned their green signals to red and be pretty pissed off!


And finally we get to best practice from the mouth of a recruitment specialist

Throughout this, and quite rightly - recruiters have been given a hard time for neglecting candidates and leaving them hanging. But, What's best practice to avoid falling into this potentially damaging stereotype? I asked my most trusted recruiter friend to answer this simple question 1. My advice would be to call the candidate saying you have left a message and sent an email to your client requesting feedback. As well as this, go through the interview feedback with the candidate. 2. I would then state that you'll get back to them as soon as you hear anything. If I've still not received any feedback and a week has passed, I will call the candidate to say I still haven't had any feedback (which is poor) but most candidates will 100% appreciate you keeping the lines of communication open.

3. I think a lot of recruiters automatically think that, after a week or two without contact, the candidate will assume they haven't been successful. So no need to call them, right? WRONG! Candidates do get treated badly so it's down to us recruiters to make them feel appreciated, after all it's the candidates who make us our money. We all know that any candidate we work with could be the next hiring manager (with our clients) even if they accept a role through a competitor. If you're professional and act with respect and integrity, even if you don't place that particular person, they will remember you. 

In conclusion


Hopefully some of your vexation towards recruiters and the time it takes to hear back from them has been eased a little. It's easy to forget that they do have a very demanding job that involves juggling multiple things at once. This is still no excuse for breaking a brief line of contact to deliver feedback, but it's worth considering next time you feel neglected. Take the moral high ground, it is easy to find in their pit of low values.


So in summary, 2020 isn't easy. 2020 is extinction level for some businesses. 2020 is a time with serious unemployment issues, and we need serious recruiters to help see us through. This has to mean that the 15 minutes of those 10 recruiters that ignored me are up.


It is time for the Simons of this World to shine, like the crazy diamond they are in a lot of coal.


Be more Simon.

PS. if you are a hospitality professional, Simon can be reached here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/simonparsons1 or here www.speconnect.co.uk


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