Over the last 4 to 6 weeks I have spent a lot of time talking to ex-colleagues and new contacts in my network, who are looking for a new finance role mainly due to redundancy, or because they have come to the end of an interim contract.
Some of the experiences they have had to endure during the recruitment process have, quite honestly, been nothing short of shocking.
There is a lot of emotion and tension, quite understandably, in business and personal lives at the moment – however, this is no excuse to treat candidates in an unprofessional way.
Below are some examples of the experiences I have heard about in recent weeks:
1. Steve – Finance Manager
Having trained with a Big 4 international accountancy practice, Steve went on to work for numerous publicly listed multi-national companies and even spent time travelling to various parts of Europe, Asia and the States with work.
After the first-round interview with the MD of the business, it was well over a week before Steve received any feedback from the recruitment agency. When the feedback did arrive, it came in the form of a text message that said, ‘Sorry Steve X Company is a no go.’ Steve then called the consultant in the following days who didn’t answer the phone. Steve then got another message a few days later from the consultant saying, ‘It was due to your lack of international experience.’
International experience features heavily on Steve’s CV and he also spoke at length about this in the actual interview.
2. Laura – Experienced Financial Controller (FC)
Laura has always worked in industry and held 5 different FC roles for SMEs, in the last 15 years. She has worked in various industries and built numerous finance teams. Her last 2 FC roles have involved preparing and leading board meetings and establishing and maintaining stakeholder relationships with investors and external advisors.
Again, Laura only had a first-round interview and the only feedback she received, via a voicemail, was that ‘she wasn’t senior enough for the role.’
The job description said the business were looking for an experienced FC looking for their first Finance Director (FD) role.
3. Anne – Chief Financial Officer (CFO) / Finance Director (FD)
Anne recently applied for a group FD role for a £100m revenue business with operations spread across Europe. She has previously been CFO for a company in the same industry, and even guided her last business through a merger. She’s a very experienced CFO/FD having operated at board room level for many years.
Anne got through to the third stage of the recruitment process which involved doing a presentation via Zoom, to the MD and CEO of the company. The recruitment consultant gave Anne some very brief feedback over the phone, the main point being ‘she was too experienced.’
The job description wanted someone with extensive board level experience.
Respect and decency
All of the above responses could quite easily have been avoided if the agency and hiring company had read the candidate CVs before inviting the candidates to interview. Having looked at the CVs myself, it’s quite clear what experience and level these three candidates operate at.
Interview feedback needs to be honest – candidates would rather receive this type of feedback so that they can prepare better for the next interview, or even change the type of role they are applying for. Unless this happens, the whole recruitment process is a complete waste of everyone’s time.
Having spoken personally to all three candidates mentioned in the examples above, it’s very apparent that the feedback they received wasn’t the real reason for not progressing and being offered the roles.
In the current climate whatever industry or profession, you work in, candidates are likely to experience some of the behaviours described above, however, I think it’s key that candidates maintain their own standards and integrity and control their own conduct throughout the process. You cannot can’t do anything about the lack of professionalism and personal touch from agencies and/or hiring managers.
This article is NOT intended to have a dig at recruitment agencies. I work with some fantastic recruitment consultants who I have got to know well over the years and continue to maintain those relationships. Establishing solid professional business relationships can often take years.
The main point of this article is to offer some support to job-seekers and encourage them not to be put off by the behaviour of others – have confidence in your own ability and you will get the job and organisation you deserve in the end!
If you are looking for a new role and would like some career advice, bounce some ideas around or just a general chat around the current business climate, contact me on the details below.
T: 0333 050 9664