This week Recruiter Daily warned recruiters about the dangers of giving feedback, and how recruitment consultants should phrase that feedback to avoid being sued. The writer, an Employment Lawyer, stressed the importance of making that feedback competency based. It’s sound advice and you can read it here.
One of the biggest complaints my job seeking clients make about recruitment consultants is that they actually never hear back from consultants sometimes even after they have been for an interview. So they actually receive no feedback, good, bad or otherwise.
Silence is really tough, especially if you, as a candidate, have put your heart and soul into your application. I’ve been a recruitment consultant. At times I’ve been a good consultant, and at times I’ve been an overworked and over-stretched consultant, struggling to meet all the targets I’ve faced and to do all the follow up I need. So I want to dive a bit further into what makes up the silent treatment from recruitment consultants, that is why, you as a job seeker may never hear back.
I’m not making excuses, but many of the posts I have read on this stuff just skim the surface about what’s going on behind the scenes. Or people indulge in old fashioned finger pointing labeling recruiters simply as slack sales people who are focused on the dollar. The reality is actually a lot more nuanced.
1) First up, yes, fear of litigation, the consultant does not want to be sued. It is actually often hard to give you as a candidate constructive feedback around your skills, when the interview process itself, has not been that scientific. If you’ve faced a behavioural interview, around your competencies, then the recruiter could give you some targeted and useful feedback based on which competencies you did not demonstrate in your answers. Trouble is, not everyone in the recruitment process sticks to the interview script. If that’s the case anything a recruiter says, could be easily disputed by you.
2) You may not receive any call or feedback when you are no longer a priority to the recruiter. Read this post on the silent treatment. Generally if this happens, the consultant is focusing on what it takes to meet their targets. They’re rewarded on placing candidates and they’re paid commission only when they meet their activity targets (client calls, visits, interviews). If you, as a candidate, are out of the running for a role, then you are not a priority call, as the consultant focuses on what they need to make a placement.
3) It’s really tough to give feedback. Consultants are human (funny that). Most people like to be liked. Disappointing a candidate is a hard thing to do, especially if the recruiter knows this is the one job their candidate wants. For a stressed out consultant, it’s easy to let this call go to the end of the day, or the end of the week, or the end of the month, or…..
4) The employer is giving the consultant the “silent treatment.” The job may have fallen through. Just because the agency advertises a job, doesn’t mean the job will be filled. It’s relatively cheap to place an advertisement on a job board. Sometimes employers will place a role with an agency to test the waters. Sometimes they may change their minds about who they want. Sometimes they forget their own internal processes and don’t get sign off to recruit. Sometimes there is an unexpected restructure. For many reasons the job may not eventuate and sometimes clients do not return consultant’s calls.
5) The consultant has no useful feedback to give you. Clients can sometimes give the vaguest of reasons about why they don’t want a candidate, “just didn’t think you’d fit the team,” “just not sure,” “if in doubt say no.” Or the client may give the recruiter reasons that they simply cannot repeat about your age, gender, nationality etc. There is no way that information will ever be passed on to you as a candidate.
6) The consultant could give you the tough feedback, but knows you won’t accept it, and doesn’t need the grief you may give them if they tried. This one’s a tricky one. If you don’t have a technical skill, for example, a qualification, experience in programming, software experience, knowledge of the law etc, then you know you don’t have that skill. It is easy for you to accept any feedback around this.
However when you lack polish (to put it politely) in the so called “softer skills” such as communication, you need to be very self aware to know that you have a problem. If you’re not a good communicator, for a whole host of reasons, you may never know this. (Many people are great at nodding politely as if they’re listening, if for example, you are a chronic over-talker and they’ve tuned out). Plus you’re only likely to trust this kind of communication about your communication skills if you trust the person delivering it. As a recruiter no matter how carefully I’ve worded some feedback to reflect what the real issue has been, I’ve had people dispute it. The conversation has not been pleasant, nor easy. I’m only human. If one person gives me a hard time for trying to do the right thing, it makes it a whole heap harder next time I go to pick up the phone.