One of the key things in an agency/in-house recruitment partnership is communication. In-house recruiters want to know how the agency is doing with their search and when they will send candidates.
However, a complaint I hear from speaking with people in the agency world is that when they have provided candidates for a role, the communication lines dry up and everything goes quiet.

So why does this happen?

I know it frustrating when your calls and emails are going unanswered. The main reason for this is that there is no news. In-house teams want to move the process on as quickly as possible, with the goal of getting the position filled as soon as they can.

The usual road block from an in-house perspective is the hiring manager. Hiring managers are usually looking to hire quickly but are usually in a catch 22 position of being caught up with a million other things as part of their roles. And the one thing that slips is recruitment.

This doesn’t mean that in-house recruiters aren’t chasing for feedback on your candidates and it’s not just you it’s happening to. There is the same situation (and frustrations) with candidates that they have approached directly, in-house teams want feedback on their own candidates too!

The other scenario where this happens quite a lot is after telephone and face to face interviews.

The usual reason for this is that the company has several interviews over a period of time (usually one or two weeks) and they want to meet all the candidates before making a decision. However, the in-house team should keep you up to date with the estimated length of the process and giving you a general feeling about how the interview went.

How can I stop this from taking place?

The key to this is right at the start when you kick off the role – this is your opportunity to lay out how you are going to work in partnership with each other, including time scales for feedback from the CV being submitted, through to the various interview stages. This is also a great opportunity to suggest a regular call to so both sides can update each other with their progress. This is a chance for the in-house team to get an update on where you are with your search, but is also a great opportunity for you to keep up to date with how your candidates are doing in the process, what feedback there is and what timescales your client is working to.
Getting this in the calendar is always good, but make sure you are communicating with each other. For example, if you have nothing to update on or chase, make sure you give the internal team the opportunity to cancel the call for that week. There is nothing worse (for either side) than turning up for a weekly call when neither side has anything to input. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and is just making a call for the sake of it.

What to do if you haven’t done that

Well, that great………but I’m already working a role and didn’t set this out during the kickoff.

So what do I do now?

It’s another catch 22 situation. You need to speak to the internal team to make the process smoother, but you can’t get in contact with the internal team.
My advice is to put together ONE email, either three or four days after submitting a candidate or a couple of days after a candidate has interviewed with the company. You should outline in the email that you are only chasing to keep the candidate updated and that you are trying to continue a great candidate experience. Don’t create any false deadlines (a rival offer is there isn’t one, etc), but set out that while you understand that hiring managers can be slow to give feedback, it would be useful to have some estimated timescales for you to go back to the candidate with.
Keep it to the point, friendly and candidate focused.

If you still aren’t getting anything back from the internal team then, unfortunately, it is time to play the longer game. Wait for the in-house team to come back to you with an update, while keeping your candidates as up to date and happy as possible. Once you have contact with the internal team, the ball is back in your court, especially if they are looking to proceed with your candidates. Now is the time to reach out and try to set up some time to talk though putting some timelines around communication in place.

What not to do

Ring the recruiter or their office constantly.
Send large amounts of emails.
Try to go around the recruiter and direct to the hiring manager/the recruiters manager.
Turn up at the office unannounced.
Create false timelines for your candidates availability (final interviews/offers etc).

The key is to be proactive and to get timescales built in to the process as soon as you can. As we have covered, this will ideally happen at the start of the process, but it isn’t a lost cause if you need to do it later on. If it is a case of it being later on, continue to be patient and professional until you get something in place.

Communication is a vital piece of the puzzle for a relationship between an agency and an in-house team. Nailing this part of the process not only makes that relationship work smoothly, it also ensures a great experience for the candidate. That is the one thing that both sides want to achieve.