Answer: Frankly, not very well. This is a comment from a source with first-hand experience quoted in the first post, formerly with a world class recruiting organization. He is quite candid and says, “Being a candidate for a top job can be highly frustrating…I’ve viewed the process from the perspective of the hiring company, as well as the potential candidate. And I can say, it isn’t always pretty. Unfortunately, the process is flawed from the start.” The business model for retained search supports the needs of the hiring organization and does not incentivize the recruiting firm to consider the immediate or long term best interests of the candidates. There is a case to be made for building long term relationships and winning repeat assignments, but the overwhelming pressure is for short term solutions. The transactional model results in an attitude that says, “Candidates are important when they are potential finalists and are needed to complete the search. Otherwise, I will not spend my valuable time engaging with them.” This attitude results in a frustrating rhythm for top flight professionals.
When a recruiter begins to search for candidates, time is of the essence. The client is looking for results. If you have been contacted, the recruiter may devote a great deal of attention to “selling you” on becoming a candidate. Once you agree to explore the opportunity, s/he may go on to the several other prospects so that s/he builds a slate of candidates. After all that initial attention, you become just one of several candidates waiting for weeks to be called when the client is ready to begin interviews. And, please don’t take up his time by frequent follow-up calls asking for updates.
The discordant rhythm continues as the hiring organization (after what seems to be an inordinate delay) completes initial interviews. To maintain your interest if you are a finalist, you will quickly receive a call. If you did not make the cut, you can expect delays and a rather brief call with limited details about why you were not selected– if you ask.
Assuming you remain on the short list and you are seriously interested in the company, you can experience silence. You know there is interest but there is no on-going communication from the recruiter and your casual follow-up calls provide no information. As far as you know you remain under consideration, but you are left wondering. This lack of concern to treat you courteously will remain with you as a black mark against the recruiter, even if you are eventually hired. You will certainly not trust him or want to retain his services if you have recruiting needs.
Watch for next week’s blog post that discusses an alternative model for Retained Search.