Hi, my name is Olga, and I am not a recruiter.
Why the heck I am writing an article here I ask? The answer is simple – I know the other side of the game and boy, do I have something to say!
Just recently I’ve moved from Caen to Paris and thus was looking for a new job. I learned a very valuable lesson in this process: recruiting isn’t easy, but being recruited is not walk in a park either.
I understand how though it can be when you search for talent. I do. Recruiter’s job is difficult, stressful and often overlooked and underappreciated. Whilst some CEOs think that great person falls from the sky, it’s often hard to source a good candidate and even harder to actually interest them in a job post you offer.
I know what I’m talking about. I spent over a month in the spring of 2018 going to interviews daily and refusing multiple job opportunities. I met well over 40 recruiters before I met Elodie – a wonderful recruiter who finally made me say yes☀️! Now I am a UX Designer here at Hello Talent and I’m loving it, but before this happened, it was a rocky ride.
I have a lot of crazy recruiting stories from that time, here are some of them:
The slow dancer 🕺
Enough to say: Job interview that was 3,5 hours long. And after that lovely experience, I had NO response. They did not even write back to my emails or pick up the phone. Nada.
But who knows, since they kept me there for so long, maybe they simply did not make their mind up yet?
The one that got away 🏃
This time I came for a job interview to a job agency and already at the door they told me sorry, but this position was filled yesterday.
Well, thanks for respecting my time. Sorry, but now I will have to blacklist you company forever and ever and tell all of my friends what a crappy agency you are. Bye. 👋
The distant gambler 👀
I did not apply for that job – I got sourced. Cool, I thought, they must have really liked my online presence.
I emailed a bit back and forth with the recruiter (who also happened to be the company owner…) and I sent him my portfolio and CV. He invited me for an interview and I must admit, my enthusiasm died a bit. It was just very, very far from where I live and the daily commute would be quite a hassle. I was discouraged, but wanting to keep my word I came anyway only to discover that… the guy never even opened any of my documents. To be honest, I have no idea why would he even invite me for the interview, as he basically only knew my name. Did he push “I’m feeling lucky” in recruiter Google and get my contact?
After 30 seconds of studying my portfolio he told me that my style does not fit his company image.
I will never get those 4 hours of my life back, thanks. 🕗
The corporate Houdini 💼
I got an invitation for an interview at a big, international consulting company. I must say, I was pretty excited for that one.
First I had an interview in English with a lower-level manager. It seemed to me to be going pretty smooth and indeed, at the end he qualified me for the second step – meeting with higher-level manager, this time in French. Fancy, I know.
The second manager was really impressed with my sweet skills and offered me the job on the spot. I thought it was weird to get the answer so quick, but hey, it was a big, serious company, they make the rules ! They also followed up quickly, emailed me and phoned few times to prepare the documents to sign and then they disappeared. Stopped responding to email or picking up the phone. Poof ! Magic ! 🔮
The cheapo creepo 💰
It all started as a very bland, uninteresting interview for a boring job offer. Till the moment the guy asked me how much pay I expect. I gave him a number (pretty low, as the guy had a creepy vibe and I already didn’t want the job anyway). He smirked and he told me that my expectations were ridiculous, but if I am willing to get back on the ground from my fairly land, he would offer me this job (Seriously?) 🤨
He gave me his number and of course, it was incredibly low, around 30% of medium salary in this field. I was quite shocked with his behavior and frankly, this offensive offer and of course, I refused. HUUUGE MISTAKE! (I mean, I should have just refused later, by email). First he started literally laughing in my face, then he got all red and angry and started shouting that I was delusional and never will find a job in this city. I was speechless so… I just got up and left.
I think that man was trying to exploit the fact I was new to Paris and he was hoping I didn’t know the standard salary rates. Fortunately, I did my research. Also, I do not want to work with bullies (and neither should anyone else).
The “I have no idea what I’m doing” 🤷
This happened to me on multiple occasions. I’m talking about job interviews where the recruiter is not actually there, but you talk with an office worker (often a potential co-worker) who clearly has no clue what he/she is supposed to do. I had people read me the same (awful) question list downloaded from the internet, people saying “sorry, I do not really know how to conduct an interview”, people sweating from stress…
This almost always ends as a train wreck and total waste of everyone’s time. 🤷
The annoyed prince 🤴
Some recruiters were plainly rude to me – as is if they were really unhappy to even see me. This one will always have a special place in my heart. First, after the welcome handshake, he walked out without a word and made me wait for 20 minutes in an empty room. Then he came back (without a word of explanation) and lied down on his chair, sinking under the tiny table, and told me straight up that he didn’t have time to look into my profile. He asked for a printed CV and when I gave it to him, he took it ostentatiously with two fingers as if it was something really disgusting. He didn’t look at it. Instead, he asked me to tell him something about me and immediately started texting (and continued to do so the whole friggin’ time.) At the very end, to my utter surprise, he offered me the job (with a pretty good pay).
I said I need to think about it, got the hell out of there and (lesson learned from the encounter with the creepo) wrote a refusal by email.
The aftermath 🙍
All of these sound like made-up stories, but I swear they all really happened in a span of around a month. Conversion rate during my search was 63 : 1. Is it good? Not from my perspective. Of course many of those interviews were very standard and it just didn’t work out. Either I was not the right fit for the job or the job was not a great fit for me. On the other hand the bad experiences consisted a fair 20% of my interactions! That’s a lot of time and nerves lost. Not a number we should ignore.
Of course, I also met many wonderful recruiters.
At the beginning of my Paris job hunt, I answered to all the recruiters that contacted me. With time and all those negative experiences I started responding less and less and I got quite picky. I think that at the end of that month I would reply to maybe one in ten messages. No wonder that other people do the same.
What can you do to lessen the damage?
I see two big things that anyone can do:
Firstly, be sure not to be one of those guys. It really doesn’t take much – respect other people’s time and be nice and honest. I know that candidates are not always fair to you either, and you all have a lot on your plate. But you know, Mahatma Gandhi (actually) said: “As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” I think we all agree that we should be more like Gandhi.
Secondly, if you notice someone using tactics that I described – intervene! Those guys are ruining the market for everyone! They are the reason you have to send dozen of mails before you get an answer from the one candidate that haven’t yet lost all his (or her) faith in the sourcing world. They are the reason I had to waste a whole month on pointless meetings (and rushing from a meeting to meeting in Paris in 35°C (95 Fahrenheit) is not fun!). Talk with them, talk to their boss, do something! The change starts from pointing out that something is not okay.
I am still an optimist and I believe that bit by bit, we get better as humanity. Let’s get better at sourcing and recruiting too!