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"We Would Love You to Apply".... Now Killing Talent Acquisition at an Industry Battleship Near You...

I was having a conversation with a high potential candidate last week, and she proceeded to tell me about a recent connection with a recruiter.  This candidate is bored, and "gettable" for the right company that can help her interrupt the career pattern she's in.  

She's reached the expiration date of her shelf life in her current gig.  She either reinvents herself at her Average current company (made difficult by layers above her and a lot of specialization in her shop) or she moves on.   The expiration date sounds like it was 2 months ago.

The candidate's not an active candidate yet, but she gets calls.  She recently returned a call from a big local company and had a nice conversation with a recruiter - a phone interview.

At the end of the call, which had gone well, the recruiter proceeded to say seven words that are like poison for a high potential candidate.

"We would love for you to apply"...

Here's what goes through the high potential candidate's mind when she hears those words from a big company with lots of red tape.  "Really?  You called me and I just gave you 30-45 minutes of my day.  All you have for me at the end of the call, with your interest level high, is "we would love for you to apply"?

I know, I know.  You're a big company, and you've been instructed that you have to follow the process.  Lawsuits on the radar screen.  Definition of an applicant is important.  Shiz has to happen before you can move to the next step.  All valid points.

But, what's not valid is the laziness of your recruiters in how they deliver that message.  "We would love for you to apply" takes the high potential candidate back to feeling average.  Back to feeling like your company is average.  And your recruiter says it so much and is so used to average talent wanting so desperately to work for your big company brand.... that they say it to the stars - the talent you really, really want.

And the stars, being stars, expect better treatment.  So they walk.  They never apply.

The right response at the moment of truth for your recruiters?  An explanation of why the process is what it is.  An acknowledgement to the stars that the whole thing is crazy.  An offer to help any way you can as a recruiter, and a promise to expedite once the candidate does "apply".

Anything to make them feel something other than normal when you say those seven words.

Big companies with lots of red tape - I'm talking to you.  You know who you are.  You can be better than that.  If you're a HR or recruiting leader in one of those big companies, you might say this directional conversation hasn't happened in your org.

I'm betting it has.  What you assume is common sense isn't so common for the kid recruiter without a ton of experience.



Great post KD. The only thing I would add is for recruiters to regularly compare the ease in which it takes to apply at their company vs. their talent competitors. The discrepancy can be huge!! I was recently asked to apply at a big name company and when I tried it was going to take over 30 minutes to do so. Yikes! Really, you need me to spend 30 minutes to apply when you approached me? This told me all I needed to know about the bureaucracy at this company and I respectfully declined.

Andy Phillips

A good point. This switch from headhunter to bog-standard recruiter is infuriating. But it tells the candidate everything they need to know about the company - it is process driven not success driven. Stay away!

Annette Ford

The day arrived, I had been waiting for two months for an interview with this very prestigious company as Manager Recruitment Services. I was very excited that they were finally going to see me. I arrived to be greeted by a lovely young lady at reception, she asked me to take a seat! I grabbed a copy of the company's annual report and browsed.

Whilst waiting a lady in her mid to late 20's walked in, she approached the receptionist and asked if she could apply for work. Instantlly my attention was peaked but alas came the well rehearsed speak, "you need to apply online"! The lady started to walk away, I asked her before she left if I could have a copy of her resume, she gladly handed me a printed copy as the receptionist looked on.

A short while later I was greeted by the Human Resources Manager and taken to the boardroom for interview. This surprised me as I was told my interview was with someone else. Not to be thrown I asked if he was unavailable, to be told he would join us shortly.

I was then put through a grueling information and process seeking question session, only to have the HRM admit that she had just started with the company today! 15 minutes in and we were joined by the person who requested to meet me. He proceeded to take over and we went through the whole grueling process again. During the interview I had the resume from the young lady in reception in front of me. I passed the resume on to the HRM saying it would be a shame to miss out on such a candidate because she was told she had to apply online. I knew any good receptionist would have told them of my actions.

Over an hour later I was thanked and walked out! I knew that I had not got the position! It was confirmed a short time later as I arrived home! I told my recruiter that they had just appointed a HRM who started today and that they were only after my industry knowledge as to how she should run the recruitment area.

Michael. Ragsdale

Wow. I am so glad someone took the time to post such a story
Wake up national and worldwide companies
As you prepare for your next strategy meeting
And you just can't understand how The
Little independent company continues
To kick your tail Maybe just maybe those
Local independent companies already
Know how to appreciate rainmakers
There I said it. Rain makers


Respectfully everyone who commented, here is a recruiter's perspective: Part of the relationship is trust. Commitment from the candidate demonstrates how willing they are to follow our "process." To invest 30 minutes to think through why they want to work for a respectable company. It also defines their ability to communicate effectively; in writing and over the phone, hopefully, eventually in person.

If the interview is with a new HR person, LEVERAGE and EXPLOIT the opportunity. Ask how they got in, and congratulate them on their new job. Believe me, you'll make more points in the professionalism category. They deserve to be involved, even if they are new. The company selected them to consider you, their job.

Point two: Yes as a gov't contractor we are required to follow a process, it is to protect the APPLICANT from being unduly discriminated against.

Finally, as for walk-in's, networking is better than a walk-in. Yes, we ask them to please follow the process, if there is not an open headcount, it is very difficult to consider the person an applicant. We have people who walk in demanding to see HR for an interview...better to network, and see if friends, professional organizations, former colleagues, family can help you get your foot in the door.

Last word: As for those entitled "rain-makers," be careful, because if you come off as arrogant or disrespectful of the "process" I will eliminate you, don't want you on the TEAM. The recruiting professional is a gatekeeper hired to protect the organizations business needs. Smart/capable "rain-makers" don't offend, they figure it out. They also don't get frustrated by the process, and leverage every opportunity to make contact with an individual inside.

Jules - CMLOR Bermuda

Big companies miss out on the candidates which would prove to be the most able and talented for a particular job role 54% of the time. Fact.

Their will to consider drops as they get bigger...

Wi Tu Lo

If the applicant is so valuable, they should also be politically savvy enough to understand procedure. Let's assume the applicant does actually understand how complex rules can lead to standardization in HR procedure. If that's true, the second HR starts to belittle the rules they can conversely give the impression that rationalization for rule-bending is allowed in the organization and that discrimination might be tolerated.

You said it yourself: "Lawsuits on the radar screen. Definition of an applicant is important. Shiz has to happen before you can move to the next step. All valid points."

There are other opportunities for people to feel special. If the talent seriously needs a feel-good HR spiel, they are probably just self-centered prima donnas anyway.

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