A Painful Lesson in The Importance of Candidate Communication

By Britt-Angela Williams

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Recruiting, like any other profession, has its ups and downs. Any experienced recruiter will tell you there is nothing that feels better than “matching the perfect candidate to the perfect client”; and while we don’t work for free, closing that “impossible deal” is a reward in itself.

Sometimes it feels like the stars have to align for anything to happen. References have to be checked, employment has to be verified, background checks completed before a candidate can be presented. Then multiple calendars have to be checked, schedules coordinated to make that interview happen and even then something can come up and the process starts again.

Don't Let The Deal Fall Apart

Every “job order” has its own rhythm and without candidate / recruiter harmony things can get “lost in the noise”. The foundation of any recruiter / candidate harmony is honest and open communication. No matter how well the candidate interviews, no matter the AHMAZING references, without open and honest communication the deal can and probably will fall apart.

Unfortunately this is what recently happened to me. The candidate and I seemed to have a steady rhythm going. We communicated on a regular basis and we had moved along nicely through the pre-interview / interview phase and had moved into the employer’s background check phase. It seemed like an offer of employment was imminent. The employer was happy, the candidate was happy and I was very, very happy. This was a new client for me - large prestigious international law firm with multiple offices. The candidate, someone whom I had known for years, came highly recommended from another stellar candidate. What could possibly go wrong?

I had known this candidate for years and she had been very candid about her background - “I want you to know that my credit isn’t the best, do you think that will be a problem?” she asked. I assured her it would not. References came back AHMAZING! Employment background was sound. It was the education verification that threw a wrench into the whole deal. Remember what I said about “lost in the noise”? Well, I was nowhere to be found in all of that noise. This candidate had attended University and allegedly graduated with the one who had referred her to me. The background company couldn’t verify the degree. This was all happening in the Christmas season and it is not unheard of for foot dragging to happen during the Holidays, so I suggested that I get a copy of her diploma. But when I asked for a copy of the diploma - she could not produce it.

“Oh, it’s packed away in boxes.” she said. I offered to help her locate it and she assured me that she would get it done. Well, the diploma was never located because she never received it. A degree was not even a prerequisite for this opening - and had the candidate been upfront with me, this whole ordeal could have been avoided and she would have had a new job. But instead, the offer was “off the table”; time dedicated to this candidate had been lost and robbed me of time to secure another candidate.

Coming Back From The Brink!

The candidate went into hiding. The client was furious with me. I was furious with me. I had really dropped the ball. The client was adamant that they would not work with me again and I couldn’t blame them. I apologized profusely and I took full responsibility for what happened. I asked for a second chance and it seemed to fall on deaf ears. I followed up with another stellar candidate whose background had been completely vetted and was told “they were about to make an offer to a candidate”. Disappointed but pleased to get some feedback I soldiered on and waited.

About a month later the client emailed, “The offer fell through with the other candidate. Is your candidate still available?” And so it began again, but this time the recruiter / candidate harmony was a symphony. Candidate was fully vetted, our foundation was strong and about a month later an offer was extended and accepted. So many lessons learned here:

1) no matter how closely you evaluate your candidates, go a step further - it’s your reputation and business on the line;

2) apologize for mistakes and take ownership of them - this shows the client you have integrity;

3) never give up - don’t lose faith in your ability and you just might close that deal yet

About the Author:

Britt-Angela Williams is President and Principal Recruiter at Britt-Angela Williams & Consultants, a boutique recruiting firm that specializes in Administrative & Legal placements.


Image courtesy of franky242 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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