This is not a farfetched story. With the job market heating up, finding top talent is a very competitive business. Today’s reader note deals with in-house and external recruiters sourcing the same people.
I haven’t been able to find someone discussing this situation. I interviewed for a job with a hiring manager. Couple of days later, a third-party recruiter cold-called me for the same position.
Is it more likely that I botched the interview and the company is reaching out or that the recruiter is over eager trying to fill a job without knowing if it’s still open?
Since we don’t have the opportunity to chat with the hiring manager or the third-party recruiter to directly answer question, I asked two super smart hiring pros to share their expertise. Mary Faulkner is the director of talent acquisition at a water utility in Colorado. She is also the author of Surviving Leadership, a leadership development blog that is a must-read for business professionals. Alan Berger is an executive recruiter with 25+ years of employment lifecycle experience. The HR search practice he oversees at Steven Douglas Associates, a mix of contingency and retained search from the mid to senior level and is almost exclusively focused on South Florida.
What should the candidate tell the third-party recruiter when they realize they’ve already interviewed for the job?
[Berger] Thank them for thinking of you but advise them that you have already had direct contact with the company for the same role. Thinking you’re covering all your bases or hedging your bets by being submitted by the third party recruiter without advising them would be a significant red flag on your integrity and in almost every case would bar you from further consideration.
Should the candidate contact the hiring manager after speaking with the third-party recruiter? Why or why not?
[Faulkner] This is tricky, because I’m sure the candidate has been waiting for some feedback and is now nervous about the status of the position. My suggestion would be to NOT contact the hiring manager immediately.
What’s not shared in this scenario is whether or not the candidate has an in-house recruiter they’ve been communicating with for the position. If they HAVE been talking with an in-house recruiter, it may be advisable to reach out with an email (or phone call, depending on how they’ve been communicating so far) and thank them once again for the interview and that they hope to hear from the recruiter soon.
What the candidate does next depends so much on the context of the interview process as a whole. If the candidate was sourced by the in-house recruiter, I would advise the candidate to reference the third-party recruiter. If the candidate was one of a group to interview, wait to hear about next steps. But not too long – any candidate left hanging for more than a few days has the right to ask the recruiter for feedback on the interview and ask about next steps.
If you’re the third-party recruiter, should you contact the hiring manager? Why or why not?
[Berger] The third party recruiter’s job is to surface viable candidates for the role. Perhaps they weren’t satisfied with that particular candidate and are looking for better fits or they may need multiple candidates to move along in the process. I have worked with one publicly traded company that always needs at least two candidates to advance to the final round. Whether that candidate is discussed or not would really depend on the recruiter/client relationship and past experience working together.
When the situation has been right to discuss someone who is in the process it may give the recruiter better insight as to what would be the best match or where the disconnect occurred.
[Faulkner] Depends on the relationship the third-party recruiter might have with the organization, but overall, I would say no. If they are under contract on retainer, I don’t believe the third-party recruiter has the right to present a candidate the organization found on its own. The third-party recruiter would be foolish to try to claim this candidate simply because they called the candidate. And speaking from the perspective of someone who gets far too many unsolicited offers for presenting candidates for positions for which we have great applicant flow, I think it does more harm than good for a third-party recruiter to try and hard-sell a candidate the organization has already interviewed.
If you’re the hiring manager, should you contact the third-party recruiter? Why or why not?
[Faulkner] First, it would depend on whether or not the organization has retained the third-party recruiter in this search. If they HAVE retained the third-party recruiter, a conversation would most likely happen because they would reach out to the hiring manager and ask about how the interview went with this person, because the recruiter had identified them as a potential fit and it is in the third-party recruiter’s best interest to refine the profile.
If the organization has NOT retained a third-party recruiter, it’s different. In general, the only time I would advise the hiring manager to reach out to an unsolicited candidate offer is if this third-party recruiter has become a nuisance and will not get the hint that the organization is not interested in working with him/her. If there is an in-house recruiting function, the hiring manager can contact the head of that group to handle the third-party recruiter.
[Berger] The hiring manager is the boss in this case and there should always be direct correspondence between them and who they select as their recruitment partner.
Any additional action that someone should take in this situation?
[Berger] It’s never over till it’s over. Don’t give up, and manage yourself in the process as you would want a candidate to interact with you if you were the hiring manager.
[Faulkner] It really depends on the irritant level of the third-party recruiter. From the candidate’s perspective, it’s good to maintain professionalism and thank the third-party recruiter for thinking of them and offer to connect online.
From the organization’s perspective, it’s best to set firm boundaries about how the organization works with third-party recruiters and ensure a single point of contact. Third-party recruiters are an important part of talent acquisition for many organizations, but it is in THEIR best interest to build relationships and learn about the needs of an organization rather than trying to poach business by sourcing without really knowing the status of a posting.
A big thanks to Alan and Mary for sharing their experience and expertise. Situations like these don’t happen very often, but they do happen. The best resolution involves good communication.
Image taken by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo