Respect Is Reciprocal

respectThere’s quite a bit of chatter about candidate experience these days, and rightfully so. For far too long, candidates would be treated more like a number or a task than a human being, in essence, it’s about respect.

However that has begun to change, and the change is evident by the rise in awareness by recruiters and organizationsSo, while this is a great time of awakening for the rapport between candidates and recruiters, it still has a ways to go before it comes full circle. While I won’t go into the full spectrum of what still needs to happen, I want to provide an example of something that happened to me recently in regard to respect.

A little backstory

I love making offers to candidates. Especially when I know it’s really a career-changing type of opportunity for someone. That’s really by far, the most fun and rewarding part of my job. But unfortunately, I don’t get the luxury of all my calls being extensions of offers. Like it or not, (and probably more often than I get to make offers) I need to make calls to let people know they didn’t get the job.

I make a practice of ensuring that all of the candidates that have come in for an interview at our office get a personal phone call when they have not received the job.

There are multiple reasons that I do this. First, it’s the right thing to do. The candidate came in to spend time interviewing with us, likely took time off of work, and (presumably) have a genuine interest in the job/company. Second, even if they did not get the job this time, it’s possible I’ll have a future opportunity that could be a better match for them. It stands to reason that if I didn’t give them the common courtesy of a call to let them know they were no longer being considered, that they probably won’t be terribly interested in hearing from me in the future. Finally, this is a very simple thing I can do in order to have a positive effect on our employer brand and perception.  Again, it’s about respect.

OK. So what happened? 

I had a candidate that we made an offer to for a relatively hard to find skill set. It’s a role that requires a really specific soft skill fit, since it has direct responsibility for supporting some of our critical clients. The team was extremely particular about the type of person they wanted for the role. We were understandably excited to make an offer to this candidate, though I wasn’t 100% sure she’d accept the position. In the end, she in fact did decline the offer. And hey, it happens. People are going to say no. But the issue was how she declined the offer.

After waiting for an answer for 3 days,  I finally got the answer from her. There is was, sitting at the top of my inbox.  The candidate had declined the offer via email, with a very short and generic “thanks but no thanks”. This was a bit disappointing, because we had had some very frank conversations, and I felt we had built a strong rapport through the interview process. A simple way to show respect was to call and say that it wasn’t a fit for what she wanted, or that she had an offer that she was accepting would have been good enough for me.

And while I can’t completely rule out calling this candidate back in the future if something comes up, I know I’ll really have to take this interaction into account when deciding to do that. What this all amounts to is that the experience for both candidates and recruiters needs to be one of respect. There has to be a reciprocal trust between the two parties. And while each party dislikes having to make those difficult phone calls, it’s an important part of how we can make the experience better for all of us.


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