What Recruiters Can Learn from Job Seekers

October 31, 2018
3 mins

I have just learned that 30% of vacancies are filled by recruiters. You probably already knew that. But it underscores the influence that recruiters have with employers and job seekers.

To write my book, “Fired: How to Manage Your Career in the Age of Job Uncertainty” I interviewed 65 people who had lost jobs. I asked them about their experiences—how they lost their jobs, how they coped, how they recovered, and what advice they would give others.

Their responses and my findings are relevant to recruiters in four key ways.

First, many of them shared their frustrations with the job search process. Many of them had been in the same position for several years and had not applied for a job or developed a resume. They learned the hard way that long and tedious applicant tracking systems also might eliminate them as a candidate for a position.

They were unfamiliar with the screening and knock out mechanisms. They were unfamiliar with newer resume styles. Many of them worried that what they thought was an asset– their strong background and tenure– might be a liability.

I share this with you, so you don’t overlook good candidates because they haven’t positioned themselves well. Also, as a recruiter, don’t underestimate the amount of coaching on the basics that some candidates need. You are a valuable resource in helping to bring out the best in them.

Second, the people I interviewed, especially those who had long tenures with an organization before they were let go had typically not worked with a recruiter before. They explained that while they were employed, they were often contacted by recruiters, but never accepted offers to talk or hear about other opportunities.

Many claimed they were too loyal or too busy. For the most part, the interviewees weren’t looking for another opportunity. And they certainly didn’t suspect that one day they would be let go. But in hindsight, they told me they wished they had taken calls from recruiters and explored other opportunities.

They now recognize the value in getting acquainted with a few recruiters and exploring other opportunities.

Third, companies and recruiters need to understand that not all job losses are because of the employee. In my study, over half of the interviewees lost their job following a change in supervisor or leadership. They had great performance evaluations, received accolades, and were even promoted under their prior manager.

But they were let go when a new boss arrived. Whether the reason for the resume gap is a layoff, a position elimination or a leadership transition, recruiters can help to remove the stigma associated with a job loss. They can also help the applicant learn to explain the gap in a calm and matter of fact manner.

And don’t get lulled into the conventional wisdom which encourages recruiters to seek out people who are already employed. There are a lot of good, talented people looking for work, who are not currently employed. Don’t discount this talent pool. (Also read: Top 12 recruiting software for hiring technical talent)

And finally, while the people I interviewed were frustrated by the process of looking for work, they were most vocal about the lack of communication regarding their status as a candidate.

One of them, Randy, said, “Just tell me, yes, no, I don’t care! Just let me know. Why are they so slow?” This is especially true if they had been interviewed. Recruiters can build trust with their candidate pool by keeping them updated on where the company is with the process and the applicant’s status.

And while no one wants bad news, it is far better to tell the candidates that they weren’t selected than to keep them wondering by not communicating. In fact, by calling the candidate that wasn’t selected, you have the opportunity to explain what the gap might have been or how they could improve their interviewing skills.

And this is what they want to know: What do I need better to do to get hired? Help them do this and they will take your calls and refer their friends and colleagues to you.

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About the Author

Dr Nancy King
Dr Nancy Koury King is the author of the book Fired: How to Manage Your Career in the Age of Job Uncertainty. She has been an executive in health care for over 25 years and has taught at several universities.

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