When you're on the hunt for a new job, everything about it is stressful. If you're unemployed, you're hoping and praying to land a job so you can pay your bills. If you're employed, you may be trying to get out of a bad situation and every day is painful. Even if you're currently pretty happy, but are looking for a change, taking time off for interviews is stressful and if your current manager finds out, you may find yourself out of a job before you land a new one. (Note to managers everywhere: This is an extremely bad practice. Stop it.)
Ignoring the Resume
On Saturday I was working a booth at our annual school festival with a woman I'd never met before. When she found out what my job is, she shared a recent experience. She had been a stay at home mom for about the last 10 years and was now looking to get back into full-time work. She recently had a phone screen which included the question, "Why are you looking to leave your current job?"
"I wrote a detailed cover letter that explained why I had left, why I had been out of the workforce for so long and why I wanted to get back. I asked her if she'd read my cover letter."
If she really wanted that job, that was probably the wrong answer, but why on earth would a recruiter ask that question of someone who a. wasn't working and b. had already explained why she was going back. Laziness? Forgetfulness? Had a list of questions in front of her and by golly, she was going to go down each one, regardless of the situation? Whatever the reason, this left a bad taste in my new friend's mouth.
While the timing doesn't always fall on the shoulders of the recruiter--hiring managers are equally guilty of this behavior and they should be advising hiring managers to make the process smoother and faster. Scheduling is difficult, but the flexibility should come from both sides--not just the candidate.
Yesterday, Inc. Colleague Alison Green shared the story of a recruiter who asked the candidate to be available for the entire day for a phone interview. This arrogance is above even that of the cable company--at least they give you a two hour window. As Green pointed out, companies are famous for disregarding a candidate's time, but this takes it to a whole new level.
Dragging Out the Process
I tell people that hiring time isn't like real time. When a recruiter says, "I'll get back to you Tuesday," it really means "I might or might not get back to you but if I do it will be no earlier than Tuesday and probably later."
Another friend from the school carnival shared that he'd been interviewing with a company since April, with his first contact in March. It's for a position that would require relocating, and since we talked at the school carnival, you can guess that he has children in school. He's going to have to withdraw his candidacy if they can't make a decision within the next week or so because he doesn't want to have his children start the school year here and then move mid-school year. The recruiters are well aware that he has children in school.
This isn't uncommon. It can take months of in-person interviews, phone calls, and Skype sessions before a company makes a job offer. Yes, they want to be certain they have the right candidate, but you will lose great people if you drag it out.
Ghosting happens in all areas of life, but in recruiting it seems to be the modus operandi. Sure, you shouldn't expect anything other than an automated "we received your resume" if it never goes beyond that stage. But, if you take your time to interview, you should hear back.
So many recruiters just go dark. Now, they'll argue that they are busy (aren't we all?) and that sometimes things happen so the job gets put on hold so they can't be sure of what's happening, which is also true. But, in today's age of applicant tracking systems and email, there's no reason they can't send out a form, "The job is on hold. We'll contact you if that changes," email.
Jenny Foss at Fast Company detailed 5 Ways a Recruiter Might Be Ghosting You. From not returning phone calls, to giving conflicting information on social media, Foss identifies just how this works. It's unprofessional and immature, and it makes people hate recruiters.
Why Blame the Recruiter? Isn't this the Hiring Manager's Fault?
Hiring managers hold a lot of blame here. Lower lever level managers are often bound by company policies which require that everything goes through a recruiter. Senior managers can often sidestep these rules and get away with it. But, who is supposed to be the expert on hiring? The recruiter. Therefore, the recruiter should act as the expert and tell the hiring managers not to behave this way. But they don't.
Remember, a recruiter is also a PR person for your company, and you don't want someone in that role that portrays your company as non-responsive, unprepared, and just downright rude.