Candidates Need to Hear From You…Even if It’s Painful…

timtolan Recruiting, Tim Tolan, Working With Recruiters



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You got me runnin’, goin’ out of my mind
You got me thinkin’ that I’m wastin’ my time
Don’t bring me down, no no no no no, ooh-ee-hoo
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor – don’t bring me down…



I was thinking about this topic the other day when I heard those vintage lyrics from the Electric Light Orchestra. It hit me. I had to make a call the next morning to let a candidate know he was out of the running. I hate making those calls. OK – I really hate making the letdown call. It’s painful (I digress).. Now that we have that out of the way, calling candidates to “let them down” is always tough. In these challenging economic times, it is super tough. Great people trying to land a new gig with more competition from (lots of) others all trying to land the same job. Smart people with families mostly hit hard by bad decisions other people made. It’s starting to really hit me in ways that give me perspective. Picking up the phone is gut wrenching, knowing the news you are about to deliver will be bad. Once the candidate answers the phone, I can feel it. I hear the (strong) emotions in their voice over the phone, as they wait for me to tell them where they are in the search. OUCH! While I think I can feel their pain – I know that I really have have NO idea what they are going through.

This news has to be delivered and by telephone. No exceptions. If your process in letting candidates down is using e-mail as your primary communication tool – you are doing them a disservice, taking the easy way out – and I think it’s wrong. I hate making the call too! OK – let me clarify —I really hate it!   BUT…now more than ever, having an excellent communication plan and process is essential, so candidates know exactly where they are in the search process. We all need to make sure we have “checked the box” and checked it twice when it comes to letting candidates down. To do a marginal job in this part of the search process is just wrong. OK, I have made my point:-

I had a candidate a couple of years ago who became quite upset with me on where he was in the process. We were nearing the offer stage with another candidate and while I knew he was not in the final slate – I also knew we were not at the finish line and I wanted to have back up candidates in case something happened (and we all know ANYTHING can happen). Candidate fallout is always a real possibility. So I waited to call him until the very end. This guy was ticked. He let me know exactly what he thought I should have done and when I should have let him know. He was emotional. While I wanted to defend my position of having a back-up plan until the offer was made and accepted – he was right. I felt horrible. As search professionals, we have an obligation to do the right thing, and that day I learned a very valuable lesson and hope I never have another conversation like the one I had with this guy.

Remember, candidates are truly ‘runnin’ goin’ out of their mind – waiting on your call. So – make the call…