Over the past few months here at Totum we have seen a number of instances of firms slipping back into bad habits when recruiting for senior BD roles. Examples include forgetting or not bothering to give feedback, or generally not treating people with the respect that they deserve. Unfortunately it seems that some firms still overlook that fact that it is the personal touch that can often be the key to securing the acceptance of the candidate.

With the candidate market as challenging at it has even been, this is certainly not a time to be complacent and expect that the firm’s brand and reputation will suffice.

Harmful behaviours


High-calibre candidates are very much in demand and have little time to consider multiple opportunities. A fragmented, disengaged and frankly unprofessional recruitment process will naturally raise alarm bells, causing some candidates to withdraw their application, regardless of how attractive and well-paid the role may be.

We recently experienced this with a senior BD professional who was put forward for a role last autumn. The firm subsequently put the position on hold for six months. Out of the blue the firm then invited the individual in for a first round interview, delivered quick and positive feedback, and soon followed up with a second round meeting. There then followed radio silence for nearly four weeks.

Delays are inevitable. But keeping someone warm for this amount of time after a second round interview is not reasonable. The firm didn’t get why this had alienated the individual in question (who will no doubt have shared their negative experiences with friends and colleagues).

Another individual was involved in a process for the best part of nine months involving face-to-face interviews and conference calls across a number of countries and different time-zones. The very least this candidate should have expected in return was some feedback after the final interview – unfortunately none was forthcoming. Given the amount of time, flexibility and emotional investment on the part of the candidate it is simply unprofessional and astonishing for this to have happened and a poor indictment of the firm involved.

Getting it right


It is natural to assume that any sought-after individual is going to have been well looked after by their current firm. Any potential new employer will need to work extra hard to build, develop and foster engagement and loyalty throughout the recruitment process. Nor does it necessarily stop when the offer is accepted. Three-month notice periods give employers plenty of time to come up with tempting reasons to stay.

So keep in touch, meet for coffees, team drinks, invite the candidate in to the office and introduce them to the wider team. Short emails from line managers and partners are a great touch – they don’t require too much effort but go a long way to making a strong and lasting connection.

The bigger question, perhaps, is whether this really just comes down to a poorly managed recruitment process or are some firms not giving the due amount of attention to business services roles? Either way, it would be positive to see this kind of bad practice eradicated from the market – not only for the sake of good candidates, but for the good of your reputation and that of the profession as a whole.



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