Why is karma so important in recruitment?

thailand-453393_1920As an agency recruiter, I quickly learned that candidates are the lifeline of any recruitment business and actually more important than clients because without them, you have no chance of filling vacancies. Candidates are also a great source of market intelligence and they are sometimes your clients as well. For me though, to offer a quality service to candidates, you absolutely need to look upon recruitment as a long game. The really good recruiters are constantly building a network with their candidate list and nurturing that talent, so when the time comes, they know where to go for that next role.

The same applies for the In-house recruiter. The candidate journey starts way before the candidate turns into an applicant. Building online communities with clever content marketing and social media interaction all needs to be done to achieve an attentive audience so when you finally have those vacancies, you have access to a unique, targeted candidate pool.

However, once those great candidates turn into applicants and engage in the recruitment process, you need to treat them right, big time! If you treat them badly, suffer the wrath further down the track – that’s karma!  So what’s the single most important thing you can do to give your candidates a great service and avoid that karmic reaction?

Over and above anything else you do during the recruitment process, you absolutely have to make sure you provide feedback to every single candidate during the process. Make this your number one KPI when locked into the mechanics of sourcing and assessment. By making feedback a priority, you shift your focus from a numbers game, to delivering a quality service to your candidate market and you also set a positive scene for the future. Take my word for it, feedback is the best way to win friends and influence people!

There are a few ways you can achieve efficiency with feedback. One way is to automate parts of the process. Make technology work for you by using activity triggered messaging with well written, empathetic templates that keep an applicant informed of their progress (positive or negative) at important milestones e.g. progression to a video interview, successful to assessment day and so on. You can cover a lot of ground with automation especially if you are managing large volumes but the key is to engineer your feedback process and then make it consistent. CRMs, ATSs and other systems such as video interview and assessment platforms offer various degrees of automation like this. You may already have the facility available but may not be utilising it to it’s fullest, so it’s worth doing a diagnostic of your current systems to see how you can capitalise.

Following that, I would highly recommend using the phone. A revelation in this day and age of messaging and social media right? Just remember, a voice at the end of the line is very powerful indeed. Often, most applicants just want to be reassured they are still in the process (or not as the case may be). They also may have concerns that genuinely need a conversation to clear these up, where email or messaging is not appropriate and can sometimes build the wrong context if not used wisely. And if you don’t think they are going to be right for the job, don’t be afraid to feedback on the phone and let them know – they will appreciate your honesty.

011914_1710_WhatGoesAro1It always shocks me but I still see messages on corporate careers sites at the bottom of the application page saying stuff like, ‘if you haven’t heard from us within two weeks then unfortunately you have not been successful in your application.’ Talk about putting people off before they have even started! This is also very damaging to your reputation. There is no excuse for not feeding back. You just need to put the right process in place to ensure it happens.


Recruitment is very much about karma – what goes around, comes around and your network is not just limited to your clients, but everyone around you. As a colleague of mine used to say over and over, ‘Candidates Are King’ in recruitment. Treat them right now, and they will do well by you in their network in the future. It’s that simple.

  1. Recruiting Animal 2 years ago

    Your key advice seems to be to send form letters to people to let them know when they have an interview or when they have been rejected.

    I don’t think that you recommend a phone call as a follow-up to every email but I might be wrong.

    You also recommend fearless feedback for people who are not right for the job. How much transparency you really mean by that though is not clear.

    It’s very rare to find someone who believes it is a good idea to deliver a full, negative critique unless it is rather painless. For instance, it’s easier to tell someone that she is missing a certain skill than to tell her that her level of competence is sub-par.

    • Christine 2 years ago

      Hi Recruiting Animal,

      Many thanks for your comments. Going a lot deeper on feedback, yes you are right. I don’t mean to follow up every email with a phone call, however there are many who are afraid of feeding back over the phone. The net result is that they don’t feed back at all, which is not acceptable, particularly when a candidate may have put the effort in to go to a face to face interview. But I also think that feedback is treated as an afterthought in the trade, and there is not enough training or emphasis placed on feedback. You’ve really gotta get your hands dirty occasionally and have that uncomfortable conversation, but it’s part of the job and often the candidate really appreciates it. It’s not what you say but how you say it.

      Use of automation is important too. In many cases, candidates get absolutely nothing back when they apply for roles and have no means of closure so they can move on and keep searching. They are kept literally hanging on for weeks which is not best practice and has a negative impact on the recruiting business.