Why do recruiters pursue you, hound you, plead for you to apply for a gig, then you hear nothing. For weeks. Then weeks turn into never. Not even the simplest shortest phone call or email saying, "Thanks for applying, but the client has decided to go in a different direction." Or, "They're looking for a more specific skill set." Or 'They're sure you're a very nice person, but your work sucks." Some display of humanity and simple courtesy would be great.

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I can't answer for everyone, and certainly do give candidates that I've brought into the process feedback/follow up.

The times when it gets awkward are when: 1. Client never responds to me. Now, I will have to tell the candidate that this is the fact of what happened, but feel mortified if this happens. 2. Client gives feedback, has no interest, and I'm trying to think of a nicer way to say it then they did. 3. Client is wishy-washy about candidates/position/strategy and I don't know what to tell a candidate.

And, of course, any recruiter can probably come back with the same question to some candidates. :)

The polite "you were not successful" as a minimum if not more is way better than leaving the candidate hanging in the space with not a single revert to let him/her know he/she was not successful. Just use that common phrase if you do not want to go into details. There is no excuse to remain silent when you are aware of the outcome for the candidate. It is with same force for a candidate who became unavailable in the middle of another hiring process and does not inform the recruiter. It may turn into time, money and opportunity waste for both, and it is unprofessional.

There are clearly some bad apples in this business, as in any business. Hopefully, marketplace pressures will eventually weed them out. The rest of us strive for excellence in customer service on a daily basis.

Amber makes some very good points as well. Telling a desperate job seeker they weren't chosen is never easy and clients don't make it any easier.

In the recruiting business, our best friend and worst enemy is TIME. It's a resource we never get back. I get, on average, 70-80 resumes per day and I work for a small company only servicing one state. On average, I will get between 80-100 submissions for each position I post. Obviously only one person can get the job. That means I would have to call back 99 people to let them know they were not selected. Do you see the problem? If I spent my time calling back everyone to let them know they weren't chosen I would have no time to make the calls necessary to find more jobs. We only have so many hours in the day. Open positions are what 'drives the bus' if you will. Thus, it's essential I spend the majority of my time seeking those jobs out to accommodate the overwhelming amount of people looking for work. Email has been a huge help to the problem, but even that gets overwhelming at times.

On the flip side of that, if I'm directly recruiting someone I will most definitely stay in touch and communicate openly with them. If you're good, I can find something suitable for you.

But... much like in the dating world, sometimes 'they're just not that into you' so you just have to move on and starting seeing other people. Ha!

@ Mick - how long would it take to set up a stock email : Thanks for your interest, the client has decided to go it another direction.

All the best,


Then just go to re-send. And send it. A little humanity goes a long way.

@ Charlie - I agree it is as simple as that. Here comes in place what a wise man once said: "If you want to do something - you will find a way, if you do not want to - you will try to find an excuse." In majority cases the latter sounds awkward.

As I said, email has helped, but the issue still persists. 99 phone calls vs. 99 emails .... still huge time consumption. I usually preface each meeting with a disclaimer that if you haven't heard back from me within 7-10 days you were not selected for the next step. Now if someone gets as far as a face to face interview, I do call and speak with each of them directly if they are or are not chosen. That's the best I can do with the time I have available to me. 

I don't think anyone, outside the business, has any idea the sheer volume we deal with. We're a small company, I can't imagine what it must be like for companies like Chase or KPMG. I'll tell you what would be a HUGE help is if candidates only applied for positions they are actually qualified for. That would save SO much time.

@Charlie to revisit your original question, if a recruiter actively pursues you then yes you deserve and are entitled to open communication. As I said, I always stay in touch with those I seek out and recruit. I'm speaking more to the masses that randomly apply to anything and everything.

We always follow up. What I usually tell someone who is not chosen for a position is "This isn't the one for you." And, then if the client has given me specific reasons (they almost always do) I relay that to the candidate. One example "Our client has decided he/she needs to fill the position with someone whose experience is more XYZ focused and less emphasis on ABC"

The best outcome is that the candidate remains a contact for future searches.

Lovely presented point Rayanne!

Rayanne said:

I think, for the most part, that recruiters - being human - hate to deliver bad news.  Back when I was an active recruiter, I would ALWAYS call my candidates who weren't getting "invited to the show" to let them know.  They were often shocked that I was calling to let them know they didn't get the job. 

Some recruiters fail to recognize the bad reputation they are building for our great industry - they choose to protect themselves(they think) when really they are only creating a bigger misperception about HR and the hiring process.  

I personally am disgusted by the way many "executive recruiters" fulfill their duties - without much sense of duty, to be sure.  

So sorry for your bad experience that has left a black mark on a profession that I love.  Don't give up on us!

It's on our mission statement: 

"We give feedback, always."

Those who don't are cowards or just pricks.  

There is always the possibility that the recruiter washed out and is no longer a recruiter for that very reason.

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