Treat EVERYONE as Your Client

By: Elias Cobb, National Recruiting Manager

So, I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately about recruiting and sales and job hunting, and more.  And there are a lot of complaints out there!  Some are valid, some seem a little whiny, and some are downright ridiculous.  There are candidates complaining about recruiters, recruiters complaining about candidates, everyone complaining about corporate hiring, hiring managers complaining about candidates and recruiters, etc.   You get the idea.

Most of the complainers seem to think the other party owes them something.  And that’s where I have a problem with it.  Yes, there are certainly customer / vendor relationships tied up in here, where money changes hands.   And there are expectations associated with that.  But what happened to treating other people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t “have” to?

I believe in treating everyone I encounter in business as if they were my customer.  

Here’s an example: In recruiting, my “actual” customer is the end client; the hiring company.  They’re the ones who pay me, not the candidate.  I find that this can lead to an adversarial relationship between candidates and recruiters!  Candidates feel like recruiters don’t care about them (and frankly, can be nasty sometimes), and recruiters are dismissive and unprofessional with candidates.  Both sides are wrong in either approach.    Why would I want to treat a candidate poorly?  That leads to hard feelings, and a bad reputation, and I don’t want that.  On the flip side, why would a candidate want to treat a recruiter poorly?  That DEFINITELY won’t lead to that recruiter wanting to work with the candidate.  If both sides thought of the other as their customer, and treated them accordingly, many of these hard feelings might abate. 

Recruiters, treat your candidates with respect!  I know they’re not paying you, but that’s no excuse.  Looking for a job sucks, and if a person is unemployed, it can be very stressful.  Try and put yourself in their shoes, and have some decency.  Let them know when you hear something.  Let them know when you HAVEN’T heard anything.  If you say you’re going to call them, call them.  And by all means, close out the process with the candidate when the job is closed, or the candidate has been rejected.

Candidates, treat your recruiters with respect!  I know you feel like you’re twisting in the wind sometimes, but many recruiters are under a tremendous amount of pressure, and the job can be very stressful.  Plus, there are about a million things going on at the same time, and sometimes things slip through the cracks.  Don’t take it personally – just drop the recruiter a decent, thoughtful email to check in.  And by all means, please let the recruiter know if you’re going to cancel an interview or take another offer.  I understand, if there has been no movement since a submittal and you get another job, you won’t always think to let the recruiter know.  But if you’ve gotten through an interview, I think it’s good form to close out the process with the recruiter if you go off the market.

Hiring managers, treat your candidates with respect!  I know the job-seeker is in a vulnerable position in the hiring process, but try and remember what it was like when YOU were on the job market.  You probably didn’t like doing an interview, and then not hearing anything at all for two weeks.  If there’s an agency in the middle, just let the agency know that you haven’t made a decision, or where you are in the process.  I know you don’t owe the agency an explanation, but think of the candidates – they’re the ones who really deserve an update.

And candidates, have some professionalism in the process!  I know the recruiter didn’t call you back, and the hiring manager didn’t give you feedback right away.  But if you accepted an interview, and then decided to take another job, a simple phone call or email to the recruiter and/or the hiring manager is the LEAST you can do.  If that person was your customer, you’d want to let them know about changes in the process.  And if you’re going to cancel an interview, giving some notice is professional, not just no-showing.

And hiring managers, treat your good agencies with some respect!  Yes, you’re the customer, and yes, you have every right to expect production.  But remember, the “product” in the hiring process is people.  And recruiting agencies cannot control the candidate.  If the candidate says they want the job, accept the offer, and then end up taking a different job, the agency has NO CONTROL.  Believe me, the recruiter wants the person to take your job.  Good recruiters are always asking what other opportunities are in the hopper, or where the candidate is in the job-seeking process.  But news flash!  People lie.  Or aren’t 100% truthful.  And even if they are truthful, your process might lag, or your offer might not stand up against the other offer that came in.  And recruiters can’t go to a candidate’s house and force them to attend an interview.  If they are going to blow it off, there’s not much we can do about it.  Trust me when I say that good recruiters are constantly in touch with their candidates, confirming interviews, making sure nothing has come up, and doing everything we can to make sure the candidate shows up.

And everyone, let’s back off the hiring managers a little.  Yes, the corporate hiring processes can seem ridiculous these days.  There are some very valid complaints out there.  But I also have spoken with hiring managers who HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THE PROCESS.  They need to fill these positions.  They may have personal bonuses and projects riding on it.  But the corporate process, which was put in place in a different time and by people who might not even be at the company any more, dictates things are done a certain way.  It can be incredibly frustrating for everyone involved.  Of course, the hiring manager actually is the customer in the hiring process, so we all want to try and treat them as such.  But let’s also understand they don’t always have all the control.

As with everything in life, nothing is black and white.  There are plenty of bad recruiters, bad companies, bad hiring managers, and bad candidates out there.  But if we try and treat others with respect and as if they were a potential customer, we can avoid some of the frustration and conflict that can arise.

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