Sitting on the bench? Don’t blame the recruiter!

As a recruiter and hiring manager you deal with hundreds of people every year. Certainly the basic requirement is to provide the best possible service to everyone, keep applicants informed and communicate openly and honestly, even if the message is a negative one at times. Most applicants appreciate this way of working and communicating, but as always when working with human beings, things can go differently.

Applying for a job is a very personal thing. Some people only do it very few times in their lives. Others are used to it, because they might be working as a freelance consultant. Their application can also be called sales. Anyway, it’s a crucial process for everyone as it is important for the future career, but it’s kind of intimate as well.

“Applying is not only talking about
one’s skills and experiences,
it is always about revealing personality too.”

The personality of a candidate is essential for the hiring decision – no matter if it is a permanent position that needs to be filled or a three-months assignment. In the end personality matters. The more open and accessible a candidate is the more authentic he/she appears. Recruiters and hiring managers feel that what they see is what they get and therefore are better able to take a decision.

But what happens, if a candidate does reveal too much of the own personality? Some people tend to talk endlessly about themselves. Others try to pin down a picture of them that does not seem to match with reality. And others again do not care at all about how they are perceived. They simply behave as an elephant in a china shop. The moment recruiters and hiring managers experience this the most is once they are dealing with a frustrated candidate. Frustration and dissatisfaction often result from being rejected. But rather than looking at the ‘why’ people tend to become unreasonable and blame others for their situation.

A recent example: A few days ago EclectiC received an insulting email. The sender had applied about six weeks ago and seemed to not have gotten an answer. He accused us for being very unprofessional and assessed our behaviour to be rude and not acceptable. Threatening that he would consider further steps he wished us good luck with our business and stated that we would surely need that. Besides further impudence this email clearly showed that we were used as a valve for a lot of accumulated frustration.

So what did actually happen? The candidate had indeed applied for a position at our company about six weeks ago. He didn’t do that via the channel we prefer for our applicants, but simply sent a direct email. We answered this email not even a week later with an appropriate rejection email, explaining why we did not see a fit for the position. Apparently he did not receive this mail. This is unfortunate, but can happen. But instead of mailing or calling in order to ask, if we received his application, he didn’t do anything but assume that we are ignorant, not service-oriented and very unprofessional. Most probably triggered by another event a few weeks later he apparently felt the need to write a complaint email, which unfortunately did not have the right tone at all.

“The first thing a recruiter learns is not to take things personally.”

Looking at the application of the mentioned candidate again, we could quickly see what the problem was. He applied to a position that was not at all suitable to his profile. A senior candidate with a lot of interesting experience in an industry that we are not working in and that is not an added value to the position we needed to fill. He had a lot of senior management experience with corporate companies, but we as an SME professional services company were looking for a candidate with a few years of appropriate experience that can grow and develop into the role we have to offer.

The candidate had become a freelance consultant a year ago after his last assignment in a permanent position. Most probably he couldn’t find an appropriate position at that time and therefore decided to go freelancing. But doing that means that a whole business development process around the own person and skill-set needs to be started up. This is very different to selling a product. Many people run into problems acquiring their own business. They get rejected for projects that they try to win as a freelancer, so they apply for permanent positions again. The longer this process lasts the more they spread their applications. The result is that they apply on positions that do not fit their profile and therefore generate even more rejections. A vicious circle!

The frustration is certainly understandable. Nevertheless, a senior professional needs to be able to balance and to understand what the result of his/her behaviour is. Threatening the recruiter / hiring manager is not appropriate, but also not the smartest thing to do. Companies have great applicant tracking systems nowadays that save all information about a candidate forever. Furthermore professional platforms such as LinkedIn have tagging systems that can be used to mark candidates with regard to skills, experiences but also former contacts. So awkward experiences with a candidate will be saved and other recruiters will find them years later still. Definitely not a great pre-condition for a future application!

Being successful in acquiring new business as a freelancer or finding a new permanent position means having acted in a smart, calm and reasonable way. Constantly doing the right thing will help you achieve your goal. Make sure that you only apply for suitable positions and that you show the best shades of your personality. And please don’t blame the recruiter – you will need him/her again in the future!

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EclectiC, 30 years of experience in IT Sourcing

Willem-Jan van Tongeren – Directeur Centrale Business en IT Services bij PostNL

EclectiC is al 20 jaar partner van PostNL voor het leveren van IT professionals.  Voor ons biedt samenwerken met EclectiC de zekerheid dat we snel experts aantrekken voor de realisatie van onze IT strategie en doelstellingen. We hebben in onze jarenlange samenwerking strakke processen neergezet, waardoor we de beste mensen voor eerlijke tarieven kunnen interesseren voor innovatieve projecten binnen PostNL, welke bijdragen aan onze digitale transformatie.

Willem-Jan van Tongeren
Directeur Centrale Business en IT Services