Why Doesn’t HR (Recruiters & Hiring Managers) Follow Up? Job search question of the week

Aug 26 2010 in Hiring Managers, reCareered Blog, Recruiters by Phil Rosenberg

”Why don’t interviewers follow up anymore?” A reader emailed me this question earlier this week – it’s a common frustration of job seekers.

Candidates are frustrated and just plain old don’t understand why interviewers won’t follow up after a conversation. I hear comments like “It’s not like it used to be”, “It’s just common courtesy”, and “Can’t someone take 5 minutes out of their day to let me know what’s going on?”

Occasionally I post a job search question from one of our readers. This was a question sent to me by a member of my Linkedin group (Career Change Central on Linkedin) – and a client asked me the very same question this morning.

Job seeker E.S. emailed me this question:

“I was recently in discussions with a recruiter about a consulting position and we went through the ‘the company’s HR person is on vacation next week dance’. I sent the recruiter an email last week asking her to confirm my candidacy was a dead issue so I can move it from my active folder to ‘dead’ and I got no response. Why can’t recruiters suck it up and be honest with candidates instead of just ignoring emails. A simple, yes you are right the company is not interested is all that is needed and would keep me from nagging the recruiter. It would also make me willing to help him or her in the future. Now this recruiter is in my ‘dead’ list. Can you explain the behavior?”

The answer is basic – Politeness to the candidate is an expense to the employer.

To you, the candidate, the task of an interviewer giving a response seems simple. It’s a courtesy that you’re used to, so when you stop receiving one, it seems rude. To the candidate it’s also inconvenient, because you’re left hanging, unsure if this opportunity is live or dead.

Companies used to treat post-interview follow up this way, both out of courtesy and to leave the rejected candidate with as positive an experience with the recruiter (or company) as possible.

Then the internet changed things. Web based job boards exploded the number of candidates a company received – by as many as 10 or 20 times pre-job board numbers. Recruiters see similar numbers.

Now think about the numbers involved when you multiply it all out.

A company (or recruiter) may have hundreds of positions that they are interviewing for at any single time, and may arrange hundreds of interviews per week. That 5 minute follow up is just for you – when you multiply it by hundreds of interviews or thousands of applicants, it turns into one or two full time positions.

HR and recruiting staffs have had headcount reductions also. The same with the hiring managers that you’ve interviewed with – that 5 minute phone call to each person interviewed could mean an extra hour per day … when that manager is already tasked with doing more with less, having absorbed staff cuts thanks to the recession.

In many cases, there’s just not enough hours in the existing staff’s day, so follow-up becomes an added expense. This can be solved with additional staff or automation – both of which require budgets. Or it can be blown off, which doesn’t require budget approval.

This hits recruiters also – when companies hire fewer people, recruiting firms cut their own staff. Remaining staff are managed to focus on new business, rather than politeness. Candidates are inventory to recruiters – the recruiter’s customer is the hiring manager that pays their fees, not the candidate.

It’s no longer about politeness, or common courtesy … it’s about cost. Companies trying to stay afloat have cut costs in order to remain competitive and stay afloat themselves.

We don’t expect a follow up from the local gas station to make sure the gasoline we purchased worked as expected, nor from the grocery store to follow up on the quality of our recent food purchases. Why not? Because this follow up is expensive.

I asked the client who posed this same question this morning: ”What if you had to bear the cost? Would you be willing to pay extra for groceries, just so you could get a callback? What % increase would be worth it to you?”

She responded that she wouldn’t want to pay extra just to get a follow up call.

So why should employers?

Readers – What do you think? Would you pay more for consumer goods, so that you can get follow-up from employers?

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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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