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I, like Jesus, have been thinking on the topic of forgiveness. As recruiters, we operate in a world where we expect a fair amount of forgiveness aimed our way. Running a busy desk makes us slow to respond. And sometimes we plainly forget. We now also live in a world where candidates contact us through about 15 different digital channels, and it’s too easy to forget about that Facebook message a candidate sent us at 11pm last night. We’re also motivated by money and encouraged to hit all sorts of weird and wonderful KPIs- many of which cause us to act like total bell-ends. For this, and multiple other ball drops, we expect forgiveness.

What about our ability to forgive? In my experience, there are two reasons that recruiters forgive their clients and candidates. Firstly, some recruiters possess a level of humanity. To err is human they say, and we all…err. Secondly, and probably more commonly, money talks. Sit in any recruitment office and you’ll hear horror stories about certain clients and candidates, only to see the same names scrawled on the whiteboard with a big fat “$22k” written next to it.

I was reminded of this on Tuesday. A candidate of mine called to kindly refer a fellow recruiter. Described as “the best recruiter I’ve ever worked with” and also being an IT recruiter, the call gave me that familiar stirring in my loins. However, the name also rang a rather large bell. Retreating from the pub and back to my desk, I realised that the same person also applied to my job advert. A job they’d actually be qualified to do. This is a very rare occurrence. However, contrary to what you may believe, we actually use our CRM. And next to this person’s name, a box was ticked. A box titled “BLACKLISTED”.

To give a brief synopsis as to why this candidate is a persona non grata, it stems back to Christmas time. Long story short, the candidate had met with the us, we spent over an hour talking about 3 highly suitable options with a plan to make introductions, only for the candidate to apply directly to not just one of the roles, not two, but all f*cking three. This wasn’t a memory lapse, more a deliberate attempt to pump us for information, and jump the queue by going direct. They had already been warned about this after doing it once, only to repeat. Twice. Recruiters should know better. Of course this is very mild form of poor behaviour, however, it did waste my time, it did make the candidate look bad, and it also reflected poorly on me in the eyes of my clients. No one wants to hear “this person has already applied directly. Are you just chancing it Sean?“. I’m plenty good enough at making myself look bad without external input thanks. With this candidate’s CV again in my inbox, on Wednesday I send a professional email stating that as highlighted in January, we would not be able to work together going forward. I then received a reply asking for forgiveness and another chance.

My decision however has been made. One thing I’ve learnt about forgiveness in recruitment is that being vindictive does not help the situation. When your decision not to forgive is purely based on damaged egos, then you become as bad as the offender. There are only two reasons to forgive or not in this game. Firstly, it’s a question of ethics. If a firm tries to screw my company over, then they’ll feature in this blog until someone apologises. We all know who I’m referring to. Ethically, I could not currently recruit for certain firms, no matter the fee. The second reason, and one that I am exercising in my current scenario, is much more practical. When we give second and third chances to candidates and clients who do not treat us with respect, we always waste our time. As much as we’re all blinded by a big fee, when we represent a candidate who always cancels interviews at the last minute, they will cancel an interview. When we work with clients who cannot retain staff past three months, we will again have to provide a free replacement. Yet like your mate who keeps dating drop-kicks, so many of us make exceptions time and time again, and each time, we’re bitten on the arse. Regardless of ethics, forgiving and working with people who don’t value what we do does not make business sense. That doesn’t mean we need to be rude or unprofessional, we just don’t owe anyone our time and services. Not if they keep applying directly.

Anyway, have a good weekend.