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HR Chronicles: My worst day in recruitment

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We’ve all experienced that heart-stopping moment after making a mistake. Recruitment specialist Greg Brooks shares his most cringe-worthy recruitment experience. 

In my second week of recruitment, I was relieved and excited to have my first candidate on interview with an engineering client. Following the interview, I called the client to get his feedback on how it went and overall it was very positive, but he felt the candidate was a bit expensive and asked who else I might have on my books. I immediately thought of someone who was desperate to leave his current role and so I went into some detail about the candidate over the phone with the client.

The client was surprised to hear I had this particular candidate on the books (mainly because he was, in fact, sitting right next to him in the office) and asked me to re-confirm I definitely had this candidate available. I said I did and he told me to hold on for a moment. Next thing I knew, he put the candidate on the phone to me and that was when I knew I was in trouble.

The brief but very awkward conversation with the candidate (the client’s employee) was a truly humbling experience and I don’t think I’ve ever said sorry so many times in two minutes before. Luckily for me, the client decided to take it easy on me, but never again was I put in that position. For a first time-recruiter, it was the most embarrassing thing.

Every recruiter goes through a number of different and uncomfortable examples of what not to do during the course of their career, and while this was a pretty stupid and very unprofessional mistake that I made, there were a few clear lessons I took away from it.

First of all, always brief a candidate on a potential client before you even mention their name, let alone send their CV. Secondly, qualify each and every role with the client in a lot more detail. In this case it would have been understanding the potential budget before sending the candidate across in the first place.

The final lesson after that day was that each CV sent should be seen as a representation of what I know and understand of the client and their brief, but also the candidate and what they want in turn (like, not to be sent to where they already work).

A recruitment agent’s reputation is ultimately based on the professional understanding of that concept and to do it so flippantly early on my career taught me a very valuable lesson. Fortunately, it has never been repeated.

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