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I’m not scared of speaking the truth, however, today I am. We’re living in a world where every word spoken or written can be construed politically incorrect. But I feel it’s my duty as a seasoned recruiter, to tell the truth about feedback. If you are easily offended or sensitive, please don’t continue. This post is not too upset you, but to shed light on many possible reasons why you are not getting feedback.

To start with the obvious. Declining a candidate is awful. Possibly the worst part of any recruiter/HR’s duties. Sometimes we get really attached to the candidate, form a bond and even friendship and then we must decline. But in saying this, how selfish. It isn’t our career, it isn’t our future plans, it’s yours. We need to stop putting our emotions above the candidates and deal with rejection as it is. It’s life.

Most good recruiters, when interviewing a candidate knows if the candidate will fit in from a cultural point of view. There are occasions I meet arrogant people. I’m not here to judge who you are, but I am paid to put the best person forward to my client. So now I know without a doubt in my mind I cannot submit the candidate’s CV, but what do I say? I cannot tell the truth, so maybe a little white lie, or silence?

How about age? We can’t discriminate but there are companies where an older or even younger person just won’t fit in. But we’re not allowed to say that. So we keep quiet.

Language / Religion. Yes I know I’m walking on hot coals here but to give a true example of what happened to me might put this in better context. The candidate I was working with was very religious (I didn’t know because you aren’t allowed to ask) and I sent him to a company neutral to religion. They were swearing in the office and had pictures up that the candidate did not approve of. (Game of Thrones). No-one is wrong or right here but the fact is that I put my candidate in an extremely uncomfortable situation and my client. So for political correctness, we can’t ask about religion, but how would I decline someone or even a client because my candidate felt they weren’t in line with his religion? Or better, how can I avoid this?

Language. An infrastructure company that works for the government in rural areas and only wants Xhosa speaking technicians. Although not illegal, it is discrimination, but it is also impractical to put someone in a job where the majority of his clients won’t be speaking his home language. Or working for an outsourced call centre company needing English speaking consultants and must have fluent English. How would you decline? You think you’ll just tell someone their language isn’t up to scratch, but tell a desperate person that. I think there could be grounds for a legal case in South Africa.

There honestly are so many reasons why you could have been declined, but you forget we live in an extremely sensitive country, where the divide is rife, discrimination is raw and political correctness is taken to court.

I know we all have to do better, but if I told you that your attitude wasn’t right for my client, would you work with me again? If I told you that my client declined you as he felt your personal presentation, smell of tobacco and unwashed hair didn’t leave the right impression, would you still work with me? If I told you that you were too old for the company culture, would you work with me again?

My candidates will know that I do ask about religion and if they are ok working in alcohol, tobacco companies and if they are allowed to work weekends. It’s not something you must answer, but we’re forming a partnership and in order for me to do my best work, I need to know what will work for you. I am also extremely honest with my feedback, which might have left a few people with a bad taste in their mouths, but would you prefer silence?

In the end, it’s all about the relationship. Let’s remember we are not here to hurt each other but to be honest and helpful.

And to the companies not giving feedback, DO BETTER!