Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Edged out by “instinct”

with 11 comments

At Even It Up! we like applying for roles just to interrogate the process that direct employers and recruitment companies use.  We are a bit like Mystery Jobseekers. The latest one we applied for was a part-time Communications Assistant with Edge Recruitment.

The role was advertised on Seek in early August, and we applied for it by sending in our CV and a cover letter.  Then we waited.  And waited.  A couple of weeks went by and we called to follow up.  We were advised that the person who was responsible for the recruitment was out of the office, and a message was taken.  And then we waited, and waited some more.

Yesterday, we thought we’d call again.  And we got the same spiel.  But we got a call this morning, only to be told that they were sorry for that lack of response, but people were off sick, and our message must have slipped through the cracks (and yes, they got the irony considering the position that was applied for!)….

Anyway.  Back to the position.  We were advised that the position had been filled, and we were told about the background of the person who had been given the role.

Unsatisfied with the response, we dug further and found:

  • They received over 70 applications for the role
  • They could have interviewed 10 people for the position (including us) but decided to only go with three
  • All other 10 people who could have been interviewed (including the person who had won the role) had similar backgrounds, experience and qualifications
  • The recruiter had the same conversation “explaining” the situation to the other people who called and weren’t interviewed…
  • The decision around who to interview was based on follow-up of the application (difficult when your calls slip through the cracks), presentation of the application and was more to do with “instinct”  than science (the recruiter told us that she had been recruiting for 11 years, and often made decisions based on this, although she didn’t want us to think that there wasn’t a scientific process behind it!)
  • When we suggested that as a jobseeker, it was difficult to see how this was a fair process, given that an interview would have been where we could have showed our portfolio and communication skills , the response was:  what would you have us do? Interview all 10 candidates?  There was also a discussion about having to be “ruthless” in the culling process.  Just what every jobseeker wants to hear – not!
  • We then told the recruiter that we were calling on behalf of Even It Up! to which the reply was: why would you apply for a role that you had no intentions of taking?  We said we were like Mystery Jobseekers, but we would like to take our response further: why would you advertise a position, have a number of suitable candidates apply and not interview them?
  • We were then told that our feedback was welcome (and that she knew about our site) and would welcome an opportunity to review the process.   We said: engage us as consultants, to which we got short shrift!

So, the questions that we ask are these: if the so-called recruitment experts are basing their selection of candidates on “instinct” rather than a scientific process (that jobseekers are supposed to know, agree to and comply with), what hope have any of us got?   And how many excellent candidates are excluded from being interviewed because recruiters have not thought about managing the positive risks of too many applications?

We would therefore be right to assume that getting an interview and winning a position is a matter of luck rather than good management (despite all the rhetoric to the contrary).  And meanwhile the evidence keeps mounting about the subjectiveness of the jobseeking process and how systemically flawed it is…

Written by evenitup

September 8, 2009 at 11:56 am

11 Responses

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  1. Yes, this could degenerate into another he said she said argument. However, the fact is that recruitment consultants (especially these days) get a LOT of applications for roles. Especially ones in the 40-45k bracket. You get people from the graduate with no experience to people with 10 years experience who are obviously overqualified (YES – this is a legitimate reason. Sure some of these people may just want a job now, but when the market turns they will be the first to leave). A recruitment consultant could definately reply to all saying thankyou for your interest blah blah but at best it would be a standard rejection letter. I know that the company I previously worked at definately encouraged and required rejection emails however it was very generic.

    Motivation aside, if you are overqualified you will leave as soon as you can find something better. There are so few reasons for someone who is ‘overqualified for a job’ applying for a role except deperation in these current economic times – chances are when they have the chance they WILL jump ship.


    September 20, 2009 at 9:50 pm

  2. […] post Even It Up! wrote the other day about our experience with Edge Recruitment and their feedback on our application has been niggling at us.  It’s not that they were […]

  3. Mystery shoppers within the recruitment industry is a great idea. Keep up the good work.

  4. yeah yeah there is a spelling error or two…good thing I wasn’t going for the Comms Officer role!


    September 8, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    • Now I come to think of it, I’m almost positive I could make a claim under the Fair Work Act, because it seems the decision not to interview me was based on irrelevent information that had nothing to do with my ability to do the job! I’m pretty sure this is covered by the Adverse Action in the Workplace Rights (Chapter 3, Division 3) section of the Act…


      September 8, 2009 at 6:16 pm

      • I reckon you could too….may be the govt has done something to improve recruitment practices across Oz!


        September 8, 2009 at 6:42 pm

        • And interesting that fuller feedback on my “application” was only considered once Jane knew who I was and where I was from – and it only happened in the comments on this post, and not in the telephone discussion!


          September 8, 2009 at 10:42 pm

  5. Oh Jane, how come job seekers here these same excuses over and over again? Not only do they continue to hear these excuses, but on this website we all continue to hear recruiters telling Even it Up to “go and get the bad guys.” How come we keep hearing this over and over?

    Why is it Jane that Diane had not received any communication regarding not getting an interview (i.e. the rejection letter) was she the only one? Or can we contact the other 66 candidates that did not get an interview to check if they received notification of this?

    Why do we keep hearing the same story Jane?

    Why do you think it necessary to explain you have a HR degree Jane? Considering you work in sales I don’t see how this is relevant.

    Job seekers and clients alike are getting a little fed up with hearing the same story over and over again and yet we see nothing that the recruitment industry is doing to build respect and credibility.

    Keep on selling a service that no one really wants and keep on treating candidates like rubbish. What a great business model!


    September 8, 2009 at 5:39 pm

  6. Hi Diane.
    In response to the comments on your website I am all for improving the process for jobseekers, whether they are dealing with recruitment agencies or companies direct.

    I would like to apologise for the “missed message”. However I would like to point out that this is a rare occurrence for us. Unfortunately we, like many others, are not perfect. We do pride ourselves on our communication with both clients and candidates and have always endeavoured to provide the best service in this area. We have a 24 hour paging service and our consultants respond to many enquiries out of normal office hours.

    As a company we receive many applications on a daily basis but you failed to point out that your application was acknowledged immediately upon receipt by return email. However it is noted that your disclaimer says “While it is with our best efforts that Even It Up! has endeavoured to provide all information as accurately as possible on this website, we do not give any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of the content.”

    So perhaps this is one of those “inaccuracies”? You didn’t wait and wait and wait with no contact.

    Yes. We did contact a number of other preferred applicants personally, quite simply because they seemed to have what we were looking for and your “application” did not. We stand firmly behind our processes and our professionalism. I said to you on at least two occasions on the telephone that instinct was used only as a small part of our selection process – not the total emphasis that you have chosen to write in your blog. However, I also believe that after 11 years in recruitment and with a degree in Human Resources I have developed the skills to make a judgement and use my instincts as much as a professional in any other chosen industry.

    The fact is that your very comprehensive and detailed CV indicated that your mystery “applicant” was engaged in running her own communications consultancy with a current client book of high level organisations. A website referenced in your resume, that you have involvement in, quoted hourly rates of $110 for marketing related work. You also have a Masters Degree and are studying towards a Doctorate. This is very impressive, but our role was a $40-45k a year position. Your application appeared to be from an individual seeking consultancy work for their company.

    So ….surprise, surprise! When you contact us to give us your valuable feedback you suggest we engage you as consultants!! And pay you a fee? No wonder you got “short shrift” as you put it (and I thought our conversation ended on a polite note!)

    Perhaps we could have handled this better – your call could have been returned more promptly and I should have provided more detailed feedback in relation to my assessment of your application. However I stand by our company and the service we provide.

    We appreciate your desire to improve the industry and support your endeavours wholeheartedly. We will take your feedback on board and continue work hard to make the experience of jobseekers is a positive one.

    Diane, please go out & get the bad guys in recruitment. God knows there are lots of them. But some like Edge Recruitment are ethical and provide a great service to many satisfied candidates.

    JANE CAREY – CEO Edge Recruitment

    Jane Carey

    September 8, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    • This could degenerate into a “she said, she said” argument which is not helpful to anyone.

      Suffice to say that no information about salary was included in the original advertisement – jobseekers can only go on the information they are given, and if it’s incomplete, why is that the fault of the jobseeker? Surely, this is another case of someone deemed “overqualified” by a recruiter, and because of this, being overlooked for a role, regardless of the jobseeker’s motivation for applying? As you said, Jane, it is an employer’s market (with the implication that jobseekers have to get/take what they can get regardless of qualifications and experience)…

      And just for the record, jobseekers do not regard an email acknowledging receipt of an application “contact”!

      And Even It Up! makes no apology for offering our services to improve the dire state of recruitment from the perspective of jobseekers!


      September 8, 2009 at 5:24 pm

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