Lessons Learned from the Other Side Part 1: – My experiences as a TA leader, now a candidate

I’ve missed posting my insight on talent acquisition.  I’m back with “lessons learned from the other side.”  My first post has to be about the Candidate Experience.  For the first time in a very long time, I find myself in a job transition.  It has been a humbling experience.  In the past I accepted there are poor candidate experiences…that’s why they hire me as a TA leader to fix it right?  Some research shows that less than 20% of candidates receive a response from a recruiter, 92% of candidates would not rate their hiring experience positively and 43% of candidates never hear back from a company. I believe that from my personal experience and from what I hear from other candidates, it may even be worse. It is as bad as it has ever been.

Just a Few of My Examples: Imagine having 2 phone screens, 4 video interviews, a 6am flight and an entire day of on-site interviews, then being told you are the leading candidate, references checked (will I ever be able to ask that favor again?). I am still waiting for a call, email or even a text. Here is another example just last week, I finally received feedback from an interview I did back in November. According to the Executive Search Consultant that the company hired to do the search, it turns out that the executive who was in charge of hiring for the role left the company a few weeks after my interview. I asked him why it had taken him so long to let me know.  His answer was he (and many of his colleagues) are running over 20 plus executive searches at any given time.  He finds himself working on the ones that require “speed and higher expectations from his clients.” The ones that get put on hold or funky, just fall off his radar.  I get it, I know all the pressures recruiters are under today, but it still isn’t OK.  The notorious “black hole” isn’t just for new grads or the call center representative positions anymore.  The lack of candidate follows up is happening across all levels, industries and professions.  I should mention there are some companies and some recruiters that do it right, but most of us haven’t seen “what good looks like” lately.

Example from my Executive Colleagues: In my executive networking groups, I hear stories that used to be the one-off bad recruiter stuff, now those stories seem to be the norm.  For example, a Chief Financial Officer who met with the hiring company’s CEO in an interview.  He was told he was “his guy and needed to meet the Board to finalize the deal”.  No one from this respected company has called him back.  No kidding.  In these roundtables, I’m the token recruiter in the room (and find myself the scapegoat for our profession).  I am often asked to help them understand why this is happening?  I have been thinking a lot about this.  It is my opinion that recruiters have too many searches (isn’t everyone too busy today) and there is an assumption that recruiting technology and automation or someone else is taking care of candidate follow up or…I have to say it… if you don’t have the guts to tell someone “no”, you are in the wrong profession.  What I am most disappointed with right now are search firms.  Have they forgotten that we will remember how we were treated, and when it is time to engage an external search firm…? We all will remember (I even the first interview I had out of college).  It’s important also to remember… we hire the person as well as the firm. So, the person who does the search and works at one search firm, leaves and goes to another firm… that person’s individual brand as well as the firm they work for will also be damaged if they neglect the candidate experience.

I am a business woman and I know in the end it is still about the bottom line, but there is no reason for lack of professional courtesy (wouldn’t you want it?).  Let’s all step away from our computers and phones and take a deep breath…don’t assume someone else is taking care of your follow up.  Let’s get back to the basics…didn’t we get into recruiting to help companies find top talent and to help individuals find an opportunity of a lifetime? If you feel just a little guilty, pick up the phone, it’s not too late.

MY ASK:  Fellow recruiters (both in-house and external) and leaders of recruiters, if you haven’t been a candidate for a while, take a few minutes to apply for a job on-line (especially your own), go through a few interviews and experience this for yourself.  It will make you a better recruiter.    As a Talent Acquisition influencer, leader and recruiter at heart, I will always champion an excellent candidate experience, because it still matters.  This is only one of my “lessons learned from the other side.”  Stay tuned for part two.

Diana Meisenhelter

Diana Meisenhelter

Diana is an alumnus of Riviera Advisors, and worked with the Riviera Advisors team from 2004-2012 as Principal Consultant.

Diana has over 25 years’ experience leading and being a strategic thinker in Talent Acquisition. She has held key corporate roles as a Managing Director and Vice President of Talent Acquisition, has had a significant experience in global consulting across many industries, including Entertainment, Gas, Financial Services, Electric and Utilities, Healthcare, Hospitality, Government, Oilfield Services, Technology and Telecommunications. She started her career as recruiter. She knows what good looks like from all levels; her passion is in helping companies identify how Talent Acquisition can implement best practices and impact and improve their business.

Most recently she led Talent Acquisition for FedEx Office. Previously, she was Vice President of Staffing and Talent Acquisition for Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Director of Worldwide Recruitment for Westin Hotels & Resorts, She also was responsible for executive recruitment and College Relations for American General Hospitality and held corporate HR generalist roles for Embassy Suites, Inc. prior to the hospitality industry; she worked in other industries such as healthcare, IT executive search and US government support.

Diana has a Bachelor of Arts, Communications/Business Management from The University of Maryland - College Park and an Associates of Arts, European Studies, The University of Maryland - Munich Campus, Munich, Germany

She is actively engaged in the HR and TA profession and helping the profession by volunteering in key leadership roles in the community: Board of Trustees - DallasHR (local mega chapter for Society of Human Resource Management), Society of Human Resource Management, Member of profession networking groups like CareerXRoads Colloquium and The Conference Board.

Past President the DFW Staffing Management Association (previously EMA), Founding Member Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals, Board of Directors - Woman’s Business Council South West, Talent Acquisition Executive Board/The Conference, SHRM Texas State Council and the Board of Directors for the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment.

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