The mystery of disappearing candidates

It may be a reflection on market conditions within HR recruitment, but the instances of candidates simply disappearing at the start, or part way through a recruitment process are definitely on the increase.

I thought it cannot just be me experiencing this so, out of curiosity, I ran a Google search asking the question “why do candidates not call you back?”  The search results proved interesting as I came across 3 pages of criticism about recruiters not calling the candidate before I found anything about the habits of job applicants.

So the balance of airtime is clear:  if you are a candidate, your frustrations are loud and visible. There were plenty of tales about recruiters, internal and external, being rude and not responding. The gist being it only takes seconds to call back a candidate – so why don’t they? Here at Chiumento we are listening to candidates concerns and we have looked at ways we can address much of this criticism.

Firstly let’s put some perspective on the problem and give some insight on why we do what we do.  At any given time a recruiter may be handling 10-15 vacancies, with an average number of applications being around 90 candidates. So we could easily be looking at well over 900 CVs per week.  It is therefore never going to be possible to speak to every candidate personally. Even at just two minutes per candidate, and a 100% success rate in reaching everyone at the first attempt, that would be 30 hours a week spoken for. That’s with no interviews and no client meetings. And thereby stands the rub of it.

Most agencies have to make a choice – are they client or candidate centric? In our case we are unashamedly client driven. It is the client who engages our services and pays for them and we must service their needs first and foremost. We find great talent for employers – not jobs for individual candidates. Some may not like that approach but we believe in being genuine and telling it how it is – that’s one of our corporate values.

Don’t get me wrong. Here at Chiumento we do care about the candidate and we are constantly striving to ensure that no candidate can ever say they never hear back from job applications made to us.  We are addressing this by:

  1. providing quicker response and updates to candidates through our recruitment system. That does though mean candidates need to regularly check the email address they have given us
  2. allocating timeslots each week when our Consultants are solely focused on candidates – be that providing individual feedback or offering specific help on everything from the fine details of our assignments to broader career advice.

On the subject of career advice, we will soon be launching a value added service to candidates.  This is sure to help those not successful with one application to have a better chance of securing their desired job next time around.

That leads me nicely back to the subject of this blog.  When we are contacting candidates to discuss a job they have applied for this is because we want to get to know you better, qualify your application, discuss the client and their working culture with you and ensure the role is indeed a good match. This enables us to present our client with the most insightful shortlist possible.

Often we can only submit 3 or 4 candidates out of the 90+ who have applied. So if we can’t get that extra insight into your fit with the role then you may well miss out. All of which can be a real challenge when timescales can be measured in hours rather than days.

So if we leave you a message, send a text and email you to say we are trying to talk to you it is for a good reason. Please take the time to call us back, even if it is to advise us that you had a bad day and have now changed your mind about moving. Or send us a message to say “I can’t talk, I am at work now, but I can talk to you at 6pm tonight or 8am in the morning”.  We will make every effort to arrange to talk to you when it is convenient – as long as we know when that is.

It may seem obvious but please check your phone and email regularly if you have applied to roles. So often we hear back from candidates after they have missed the boat. Simply because they haven’t checked their email or voicemail lately. Also check your spam filter isn’t blocking our emails. If you don’t get an acknowledgement email from us within an hour of applying the chances are it is your email settings that will be the problem.

Time is even more of the essence if you know Chiumento has put your CV forward.  Often clients want to interview quickly – or only have limited slots available. Responding promptly means we are more likely to get you a date and time that suits you best. Rightly or not, clients can assume that if you don’t confirm the offer of an interview quickly then you are only lukewarm about the job.

We know that sometimes life has a habit of taking over and we also know that sometimes you just change your mind; it is easier to advise our client of this than it is to tell them you have simply disappeared. On which note it is surprising how many candidates apply for a job and then go off on a holiday where they can’t be contacted…

So come on candidates…we are trying to do our bit. Help us to help you by responding quickly. Or be genuine: if you aren’t really interested in a role, tell us. That might give someone else the opportunity instead.

Lesley Colella
Recruitment Manager

2 thoughts on “The mystery of disappearing candidates

  • Well, I can only imagine the tidal wave of sympathy flowing at you over this issue. Thankfully, I’m freelance and only a few jobs catch my eye as being worth interrupting that, but still I get opportunities to experience first hand the casual way recruitment agencies drop all communication as soon as their commission slips slightly out of easy reach. Perhaps part of the values of all recruitment agencies should be to declare first and foremost that they work for the client, not the candidate; to be honest and stop pretending to be everybody’s best mate. As you make it clear here, candidates are commodities you sell to clients: and the commodity has no responsibility to the seller.

  • Thanks for confirming that we are living up to two of our values: brave and genuine. As you quite rightly point out recruitment businesses are commercial enterprises. They exist
    primarily to support their clients. And if they don’t generate fees they don’t trade for very long.

    A key point of my blog was to be honest about this and not pretend that “candidate is king”. All that does is raise expectations that we cannot meet. Our position is very clear: we are
    client centric.

    The reality of our world is that we often have hundreds of people chasing a single job – and we can’t spend lots of individual time with all of them. Much as we would like to.

    That doesn’t mean we don’t care about candidates we can’t help immediately. We just can’t support them on a 1:1 basis. That’s why we have made a big investment in developing a new, and completely free to candidates, on-line career support service called CareerGift. We believe it will provide every applicant with some real added value. It will be launching in the next few weeks and, I think, proves our commitment to the seller.

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