Yesterday I received one of the most unusual calls in recent memory. It was from a recruiter with Profiles, who’d presented me for a position here in DC several months ago. Times are bad, hiring is slow; still, the process with this particular position has been dragging on for several months now.

When my path first crossed that of this recruiter, I made it clear to her that I didn’t expect her to “get me” this job; but what I did ask for was for whatever the final decision was to be communicated to me. I’ve encountered some recruiters who don’t do that, and there is nothing more off-putting than not knowing where you stand. As Rachel a.k.a. Jennifer Aniston said, “That, my friend, is what they call ‘closure’.”

Well, this recruiter walks the talk. While I have no idea whether we’re anywhere near the finish line, she has consistently kept in touch with me to try to keep me engaged. She follows up regularly with the hiring organization, and lets me know what their response has been. And when they do make their final decision, I know she will communicate it – whatever it is – to me.

For someone who’s not working for me, as Lindsay Olson explains in this excellent post, I call that pretty good “people relations.” Good people relations is something that not just PR professionals, but everyone, should aspire to – including recruiters.

Recruiter Horror Stories

We’ve all heard the horror stories about job candidates. Ad nauseam, I might add. But what about the recruiter horror stories?

Apparently there are quite a few, as my Twitter network told me:

Jason Buck “had an ‘interesting’ experience at temp agency party, where one very drunk recruiter told me exactly what she wanted from me, in earshot of all… I won a bottle of champagne at the next party for being ‘the most adaptable temp.’ ”

Another (whose identity is concealed on request) had this experience:

1. Brought me in to interview in October – seemed positive
2. Sent writing sample, never heard back
3. The main recruiter left – still hadn’t heard back
4. Move to November, I got laid off
5. They had me come in to interview three times, and meet with about eight people
6. Never heard from them again – by then I was so put off I didn’t care anymore though

And one of my Facebook friends, who also requested to remain anonymous, went through 10 (yes, 10) interviews to join a global recruiting firm; discussed a possible niche practice with the COO; drove 100 miles through a snowstorm for the final (10th) interview only to be told she was “more concerned with moving up the ladder than learning the ropes of the  business.” Her subsequent emails and phone calls were not returned.

The Bottom Line

No, job candidates should not chew gum or eat brownies during interviews. They should present themselves professionally, and follow up diligently and politely. And they should not expect recruiters to work for them – that is certainly not the way it works (though often good recruiters will give candidates tips and an insight into the recruiting process, as Lindsay and several others do).

But candidates can expect recruiters to work with them, and afford them the same courtesies they would like to see returned. After all, job hunters are people too. And when the economy turns, these same candidates, who are beating down every door they can see right now, might just be in a position to do someone a favor.

It’s called good people relations.

What do you think? Do you have tips for recruiters – or candidates – that you’d like to share?

Thanks to @KarenRussell, @jasonbuck and everyone else who contributed to this post.

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke