PRSA Public Relations, Marketing and Communications Jobs

Facing Recruiter Feedback With Grace

By Richard Spector
PRSA Manager, Jobcenter

Recently, an actor friend of mine auditioned for a commercial she thought she was perfect for. She had built a successful repertoire of commercial jobs by portraying a character that “knows how to get out the spot.” This commercial spot seemed tailor-made for her. After a great audition, she was surprised to hear that she didn’t get the job. Being a friend of one of the directors, she called and asked why she didn’t get the part. The director replied, “your hair is orange and the kitchen set is orange too – your hair would blend too much into the set.” As absurd as this comment is – it brings home the point how frustrating job hunting may be – regardless of the profession. How did my friend navigate through this frustration and request feedback? She approached the director from a positive place.

As you apply for more jobs, the way you approach a recruiter for feedback will determine whether you will have a long-standing successful relationship or a very short-lived one. Keep the following in mind when contacting a very harried recruiter:

  • Be Kind: Recruiters are probably the most overworked and overstressed employees around. They process tons of job orders and are under constant pressure to process these orders in record time with minimal staff. Social media has changed how they do business and in some ways has taken a big bite out of their own revenue. This is their mind-set 24/7 so being forceful or too aggressive towards them will not help.

Instead, reinforce that you are willing to take any classes or tutorials that will get you hired and make their job easier. If you came across too mild in the interview, tell them you’re willing to take public speaking classes and let them know you will practice your skills with experienced friends and colleagues in the field. Your enthusiasm will be key to retaining a recruiter’s interest, and always put yourself in the recruiter’s perspective.

  • Be Brief: As mentioned, recruiters are tremendously short on time and resources. Do not begin by telling them you are surprised that you didn’t get the position. Perhaps they were surprised too, but it’s not going to change anything. Make the feedback process easy for them. Limit your questions to one or two quick ones. Your prelude into your question may begin with reinforcing your dedication and passion to the industry. Then think of your goal and how much you are willing to learn. Are you willing to enhance your skill set? If so, try telling them that you are always working on your “career fitness” plan as career expert Peter Weddle would say, and you would like to know whether the employer felt there were any specific skills lacking. 
  • Be Prepared: Taking criticism may be the hardest thing in the world especially when you’ve been on countless job interviews but you need to be open to it. Don’t be defensive. You both have the same goal. Remember, if you get the job, they make money too and everyone is happy. 
  • Be a Good Listener: Ever hear the term, “reading in between the lines?” When the recruiter is giving you feedback, remember to listen to what is said as well as how it’s said. Most importantly, let them do most of the talking. You’ll wind up with wonderful advice and feedback.

Most of all, have faith that the recruiter is doing the best job possible for you. Acknowledge their hard work and effort. Remember that it’s all about building relationships. You’ll be doing this for a very long time both in and outside the job. If you keep your confidence in them – they will keep their confidence in you.