Broken Promises by a Recruiter?

One of the hardest things to do as a recruiter is to deliver on expectations. Notice that I didn’t say delivering on promises. There is a hidden dialog buried in our memories of a child quizzing a parent, “But you promised!” That scenario may have been an actual commitment that was broken or simply an expression of disappointment that the child did not get her own way. We grow older, but never really escape from that scripted vision. We become more sophisticated in our thinking, but there is always a need to have our promises fulfilled and to keep the promises we make. It is human nature… and recruiters are mostly a human bunch.

  1. Set clear expectations from the first encounter – Communication is the absolute key to getting it right. For a client or hiring manager this involves a dialog of honestly getting to the root of the problem to be solved and the type of person that will provide that solution. For candidates there may be a little bit of amateur shrink-work involved. You can control the message you are sending out, but may have to engage in some active listening to get feedback on what they actually heard. It is always better to correct the expectations early rather than do damage control later.
  2. Always under-commit and over-deliver – In anticipation of expected variables going awry, it is always better to shave a bit off of the expected deliverable so that there will be no perception of shortcomings. This is not simply an ego saving venture into a half-truth. The knee-jerk perception of dishonesty is somehow always close to the surface for some reason… maybe this is also human nature. The goal should always be to deliver more than is expected, but this can also erode confidence if it appears to be fake. There will be enough things that can go wrong, so there is no need to turn reasons into excuses.  
  3. Keep lines of communication open to discuss changes – Like any planned action there will be deviations from the course that was plotted initially. Soliciting feedback from all of the parties concerned and providing feedback as necessary is important. Timely communication can prevent missing expectations for all parties. The recruiter who is always knowledgeable of current status is more likely to be able to respond quickly and appropriately to change. The road to the Black Hole is paved with missed communication.
  4. Apology is not a sign of weakness – There are those who apologize at the drop of a hat. Overdoing the apology thing IS a sign of weakness… or at least ineffective communication. Things can and do happen that brings the forward progress toward achieving a goal to an unexpected stopping point. Knowing when to cut the losses and move on may take experience to recognize early, but nobody can ignore the end when it happens abruptly. Sincere apology without excuse is mandatory unless a total severing of relationship is acceptable.

This article is not a sermonette to force my opinion on other recruiters. Actually, it is a catharsis for me to go step by step through the process once again. I know how I feel about a client that lied to me and now I am faced with giving feedback to some fantastic candidates who are impacted by this. I don’t think they will have the same misgivings about dealing with me, but that really depends on how well… or poorly… I have managed the expectation process.

Image credit: Broken Promises eric1513 / 123RF Stock Photo