5 recruitment mistakes that could be putting candidates off-side

Recruitment professionals are constantly juggling the expectations of both clients and candidates. Finding the best talent while ensuring a smooth process for job seekers requires a delicate balance and, occasionally, they drop the ball.

While an unsuccessful application is always disappointing for candidates, it can be made worse by a negative recruitment experience. If you want to keep your valuable network of job seekers on side, here are five common recruitment mistakes to avoid:

Radio silence

No one likes to be ignored. If a candidate applies for a role, it’s fair to expect a response, however recent SEEK research has revealed that 43 per cent of Australian workers who have applied for a job have never heard back from the employer. They are also are two times less likely to expect a response from recruiter ads compared to ads posted directly by a company.

“It’s not an excuse, but the average recruiter receives a huge volume of emails and phone calls on the average day and it’s easy for less experienced recruiters to feel overwhelmed,” says Andrew Brushfield, Director at Robert Half.

“My advice is to get into the discipline early in your career of never leaving the office until your inbox is empty or at least under control. If you can see that a candidate is not suitable for a role, tell them right away. If you delay your response, your inbox will fill up again and you’ll risk letting people down.”

No reason why

An unsuccessful application can be disappointing, but it also presents an opportunity for candidates to learn and to improve their technique. Research from SEEK shows 87% of candidates would like feedback on why they missed out on a role, so it’s easy to understand their frustration when a recruiter doesn’t provide reasons.

“Sometimes our clients just don’t give reasons – they simply tell us which candidate they want,” says Brushfield.

“It’s always good to call a candidate and tell them that you are following up on the reasons why they were unsuccessful. It’s also a useful exercise for clients to be able to identify why they didn’t choose a particular candidate and it’s something recruiters should encourage.”

Short on details

It takes time and effort to complete a job application, so candidates feel frustrated when key details, such as location, are missing. 

“There isn’t much of an excuse for this,” says Brushfield.

“We train all our people to be as specific as possible in ads, and to include all the vital details, such as whether it’s a full-time or part-time role, required skill sets, location etc. The more targeted an ad, the less volume of applications a recruiter has to manage.”

Forgetting your homework

A sure way to get a candidate off-side is to not read their resume before you meet them.

“We’re all busy but there really is no excuse for this,” says Brushfield.

“Perhaps people think they can cut corners as they become more experienced but if a candidate goes to the trouble to come in and meet you, the least you can do is be prepared. Read their resume, familiarise yourself with their previous employers, scan their social media sites.”

Mixed messages

Communication is another area that often lets recruiters down.

“If you say you’ll call on Friday, keep your word,” says Brushfield.

“Candidates don't define good service by getting a job through that agency. They define good service by professional communication. Candidates understand that, at the end of the day, only one person can get the job, so it’s our role make the process as smooth as possible.”

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Susan Muldowney

Susan Muldowney has worked in publishing for more than two decades and found her perfect job when she began freelancing two years ago. She is based in Melbourne and specialises in writing about business, architecture and design.

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