How to Recover and Rise Strong When Things Go Sideways in Recruiting

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Aug 8, 2018

We all know that from time to time even the best recruiters and sourcers have an off day, get overwhelmed, or drop the ball. This article will give you some tips on how to recover fast and get back to your game.

I am going to go out on a limb here and be vulnerable with you fine folks. I had something happen to me this last week that well, made me look like this guy (see below), yup double facepalm. I am going to tell you what happened, and the steps I took to recover quickly and rise strong.


I was working on filling some internal roles for my team and working closely with my boss. I was at the step in the process where it was time for onsite hiring manager interviews. Monday late afternoon I talked to my boss and got her short-list. While speaking to the short-listers who would be moving forward, I verbally confirmed them for their phone or onsite interviews for the end of the week. Then I promise to send them a confirmation and logistics emails as soon as possible. I begin sending my meeting invites out. I got all the invites out except one email confirmation. My day abruptly ended, and I had to stop for the day before completing sending the confirmation email. So, I thought I would pick it up the next morning and send out the interview confirmation and logistics for a Friday interview on Tuesday morning and boom, be done, and on to the next task on my list.

But not this time. I get back to my desk on Tuesday morning to find a 911 email from my boss from the night before. So what does any good recruiter do? You jump right on that 911 bomb, defuse it, and you save the day. You guessed it, I forgot all about sending the confirmation and logistics email to my candidate. I get to Thursday evening and my teammate, who is on my interviewer slate, calls me just before I sign off for the day and tells me that one of my candidates reached out to him to ask him some questions via LinkedIn prior to their interview with him (ahem, this is the same candidate that did not get their confirmation and logistics email).

He asks if he should respond or if I would call her. I told him I would call her and get her answers to her questions. So, I called the candidate twice that evening hoping to reach them and leave voicemails both times stating it’s important that we speak, please call me back. No, call back that evening. Call, email, and text them early the next morning. Still nothing. Then a neurotic feeling comes over me. Then I start talking to myself, did I send that email confirmation with the logistics information? I’m sure I did, did I? So, I started checking, and as you can imagine, I have a bolder growing in the pit of my stomach. I can’t find the confirmation, and It is now only two hours before the interview time. This is where you insert the double facepalm.

So now I that I have brought you the to bottom of the pit, here are a few steps and suggestions to dig yourself out.

Don’t Panic

Ok, you can panic, but only for 30 seconds or so. Everything after that is a waste of energy. Time and energy are two of the most precious things we have. So, don’t waste it on panicking, use this adrenaline rush wisely.

OYS – Own Your Stuff

Immediately take ownership of your mistake, apologize for the error, and forgive yourself. Then map-out where the break happened, seek to understand before you attempt to be understood and begin to problem solve.

Identify Your Solution and Execute It

This is no time to “duck and cover” and let things blow over. You take your solution, and you run with it.

Be Professional and Stay the Course

Being defensive, blaming, or getting an attitude will make you look even worse. You already had your allotted 30 seconds of an emotional flare-up: OMG, AYKM, WTF (Hopefully out the view of anyone else)!.

Because we are perceived as the “face of the company/client” we must always come across as courteous, professional, and exercise a high level of self-control.

If you are perceived as “crazy,” you lose all credibility.

All Things Work out the Way They Should

It might not be what you originally envisioned, but it has been managed.

We all make mistakes from time to time. It is how we rise-up, learn from our mistakes and keep working towards “solving for X” that sets us apart.

One last parting thought from Theodore Roosevelt, “I challenge you to rise up strong from your failures and dare greatly.”

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