Recruiter-Dev Romance. Or Maybe a Nightmare?
The definition of a recruiter in Cambridge Dictionary is a person who persuades people to work for a company or become new members of an organization, especially the army. My definition of a recruiter is a friend-to-be who helps people find their dream job, prepare them for their future career, assist with recruitment tasks, manage the best salary negotiation, advise on employment issues and stay up to date with the industry knowledge. Am I a recruiter? Damn, sure I am. I have quite a multidisciplinary role, but my mission is to create a place where people can develop, learn and come to every day because they want to not because they are made to, where we are a team and we feel mutual responsibility for each other.
The industry I work in is exciting, but also demanding and I would even say harsh sometimes. I talk with many interesting people every day. I show them that they can choose a new place, a new team and a new project with a strong belief that it will give them satisfactions and joy. I do not push to make any decision. I just show an alternative to their current professional life. I believe in people. And I believe that our nature is good, but not every recruiting case is a dream story with a lovely happy ending.
I am sure that if you are an IT recruiter you must have met at least once in your life a talented, clever and hilarious dev* (so called a perfect match) who unluckily for you turned down the offer and left. But you stayed in touch with him/her with hope that one day they may wake up, change their mind and tell you that it is a perfect moment to accept your offer. In fact, I personally like staying in touch with such people as I treat them just like friends. I know what they are up to, what flat they are buying, where they go on holiday. These are the candidates that I get on very well even though they have not become a part of my team.
And some of them may never become one. It might be just like waiting for a Godot. This perfect candidate we had a crush on might be like our first unfulfilled love. We may even never forget about him/her, but remember that being someone’s first love may be great, but to be their last is beyond perfect, so move on. 😉
This has really happened to me. I was on a triple date (I mean an interview - you know - a candidate, my colleague and I). I just managed to introduce ourselves, ask a few questions and that was it, the candidate disappeared. It was an online interview, so I had no idea what happened. A stroke? An unpaid electricity bill? A delivery man came? I called. I usually do that when I am worried about someone. No answer.
I have really no idea what we did wrong. Or maybe it was stress. Yet I am not sure if stress might be any explanation here. Imagine being on a date or just at a usual meeting and you’re leaving after a few minutes without saying a word. Just vanishing into thin air. Or going to a toilet and never coming back.
I know that interviews might be hard, stressful and even exhausting, but we should respect each other’s time and even if you are experiencing some emotional tension or strain, just tell your recruiter about it. You do not know each other and it is natural you may feel little anxious, but let us not spoil a date before it event starts.
My brief advice here is - please think twice before you agree to take part in the interview and if you are a recruiter - please think twice before you invite someone for an interview. Let us not waste each other’s time and give it to someone special. 🙈🙉
I really like the analogy between a recruitment process and dating. But the potential problem appears if you date more than one person. The problem is experienced on both ends. On the end of a potential hire who is flooded with dating offers on LinkedIn and a recruiter who is desperately looking for new people lost in all contact details and personal information. The turning point is when you as a candidate gives the impression that you love the offer while telling the same story to ten different hiring managers. Or when you as a recruiter give the impression to a candidate that he/she is the only one and at the same time you are telling that to ten other people who have applied for a job.
Please, be honest and be transparent. I think there is nothing wrong about telling the recruiter that we participate in other processes and there is nothing wrong about telling a candidate that he or she is not the only good interviewee in the process. At least we are all on the same page and we may avoid a big unexpected disappointment.
#4 Love is gone
So, your dream candidate is here. Let us call him John. He has just started a new perfect job in your company. You feel you are the best recruiter in the universe, you feel you can move the recruiting mountains, you won again. The new hire is over the moon, a new place seems to be amazing, great people, an exciting project, but… a week after week John feels worse, less motivated, a bit sad. And I think that is the situation I find personally the biggest nightmare. Or at least I used to.
Both you and candidates put a lot of energy in starting and developing every relation. You believe it may last forever. You believe that you have found a perfect chance for someone to take up their career to the next level, and now everything is almost gone. What did you do wrong? Where did you make a mistake? You were trying really hard, you were honest, you were transparent. But you failed.
What I have learned in my life so far is that not every love relationship will stand the test of time either private or professional one. With some people we will create a real team whereas others may leave after a few weeks or months because they find out that it is not a place they are searching for or we may just discover they are not people we are looking for. The delusion of a perfect match disappears. The love is just gone.
I used to experience quite hard every failure of this kind, but I have also learnt that each and every goodbye is a good moment for switching on an auto-reflection mode and thinkinh if we really did our best. Maybe we fell in love with an inappropriate person? Maybe it was just a cognitive bias? Or maybe we made a decision under pressure?
Were we really open and sincere about the company’s expectations and requirements? Did we present a team, a project and potential tasks and challenges just like they are? The auto-reflection should be applied in every phase of the recruitment process, after every meeting, after every conversation. And if we as recruiters feel that we were over-the-top, we should always make this right. The sooner the better.
When I was starting my recruitment career in IT industry despite the fact that I had already graduated from double major and it was not my first job I felt as a little dummy.
I am not ashamed of the fact that I was googling almost everything, reading tech blogs, or asking my colleagues-developers to explain what deployment was or how Node.js framework worked. I was taking notes, checking software tools and reading Uncle Bob’s literature. I was learning and I am still doing that. And to be honest I think being a professional is about learning our all life.
No matter how strange it may sound I think not everyone is made for a relationship and sometimes it is better just to be a single. It is also true about being a recruiter. Not every person is designed to be one.
As I have said in the beginning I believe in people and I always focus on their expectations, plans and goals. I do not treat candidates like a sales target to get some extra commission. I apprehend my role. I know that my team is growing and we need new talents on board, but I do not create an illusion just to encourage someone to sign an agreement.
If you are missing empathy, you are lacking emotional intelligence and you just treat people like some random numbers in your table, think whether a recruitment area is really for you. I know that IT recruitment is dynamic and demanding, but we should keep in mind that we interview people and we should take care of their feelings, aspirations and future career. If your candidate’s satisfaction and happiness are not your priority, are you sure you are in a good place?
When I started writing this blog post I was not sure what it would be about. And for sure I did not expect it to be so long (sorry for that 🥲). But I can see every now and then people, both candidates and recruiters, who are not happy about the recruitment processes they lead or take part in. And well, my job is also not perfect as you probably may have already known. Not every person I talk to turns out to be an ideal new hire. But I want to encourage you to think about what the real reasons for this whole recruiting unhappiness and dissatisfaction are.
Are recruiters really dumb? Or are developers such douche bags as some recruiters say? I think that we should always treat other people as we would like to be treated ourselves. That is my philosophy and probably it works because I still like and believe in people and I still have a mission to do.