Job seekers can be brutal.

Anyone who’s worked in the staffing industry can attest to this fact, right? We have all seen how they air their complaints – very publicly and unfiltered – on social media and review sites. But whether candidates’ scathing remarks are accurate or completely fabricated, one thing is certain:

In today’s recruiting environment, upset candidates are REALLY bad for business.

Even a handful of negative comments from disgruntled or unplaceable candidates can tarnish your firm’s reputation and make recruiting even tougher for you. So if you’re tired of candidates bashing your recruiters, learn how to head them off at the pass. Here are three chief complaints about staffing recruiters from job seekers – and how a little shareworthy service can turn those complainers into cheerleaders:

That job doesn’t exist.

Put yourself in the candidates’ shoes for a minute. If you took the time to customize your resume and cover letter, and then apply online – only to hear a vague “we’ll be in touch” from a recruiter – would you feel duped?

The best way to prevent a candidate’s frustration in this scenario is by setting proper expectations up front. If you do not have a suitable opportunity for a candidate who applies, say so. Explain that, while they’re not the right fit for the posted job, you frequently work with clients who need the candidate’s expertise – and that it’s essential to get them into your database, so you can quickly offer them the right opportunity when it arises.

And if you know you won’t be able to place them, provide direct feedback in a respectful, compassionate way. If possible, provide suggestions as to what they can do to improve their prospects – be that through education, skills training or applying to another agency that specializes in their field.

Recruiters don’t return my phone calls.

Again, think like a candidate. You applied to a job you thought you were a great fit for, and the recruiter agreed with you, promising to submit your resume for the client’s consideration. After that, you heard nothing – even after you called the staffing firm twice to follow up. Would you feel annoyed because you got the cold shoulder?

To prevent the stress candidates feel from “communication vacuums,” make sure recruiters adhere to established follow-up processes. When candidates know where they stand, they’re less likely to assume the worst and air their grievances publicly. Here are a few tips for thorough, proactive candidate follow up:

  • Send timely, automated responses to all applicants, acknowledging application receipt and explaining your candidate intake process.
  • Keep prospects who make it through initial screening informed at each subsequent step of the interview process. Explain next steps and timelines. Let them know how and when decisions will be made.
  • Follow-up with every candidate your clients interview. If your recruiters fear being stuck in lengthy candidate conversations, encourage them to send respectful, informative emails.

Even when an employer rejects an applicant, most job seekers will appreciate not being left hanging. They will remember the way you treated them, and be more likely to apply again or refer other great people to your organization.

I never get feedback.

If you were a candidate who made it through one or more rounds of client interviews – only to be rejected – would you want to know why you didn’t get the offer?

Once again, a little communication can go a long way in preventing a candidate’s upset. Here are a few ideas for handling sticky interview feedback situations:

  • If there’s a simple, valid reason for why the candidate was rejected, make sure recruiters share it. In the vast majority of cases, the candidate will respect honest feedback if it’s shared professionally and constructively.
  • If the employer’s reason for turning down a candidate is harsh or personal, recruiters should still provide feedback to the job seeker. Role-play awkward feedback scenarios, so recruiters know how to be diplomatic and focus on the positives and/or areas for improvement. You might also find it helpful to develop a repository of starter content for feedback emails that new recruiters can customize to handle challenging situations professionally.
  • If the employer doesn’t provide any specific feedback on why they rejected a candidate, the recruiter should be honest with the candidate. They could try something like: “The employer selected another candidate they believed was a better fit, but did not share any specific reason why they chose them over you. On the positive side, you made it to the interview stage, and I’ll be in touch when I have another suitable opportunity for you.”

Does providing shareworthy service to candidates take a little more time and effort?

Yup. But the ROI – in terms of happier applicants, stronger candidate relationships, a more positive employer brand, and the cascade of benefits that come from positive word-of-mouth – are well worth it. Treating your candidates like customers is smart business! And as the talent market continues to tighten, a consistently shareworthy candidate experience will set you head and shoulders above your competitors.

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