Dealing with an Unresponsive Employer

Bill Radin's Winning Strategies for Recruiters

Joan was frustrated. A week had gone by since the hiring manager interviewed her top candidate; but since then, she couldn’t get him to return her calls or respond to her emails.

In the meantime, her candidate’s attitude was starting to sour, as post-interview euphoria turned to disillusion. Given the employer’s silent treatment, there was little Joan could do to keep her candidate warm.

“Well, this stinks,” thought Joan, as she considered her options. Here are the strategies she considered.

Option 1 – Stay the course. Wait another week or two for the employer to respond and assure the candidate that all is well.

Joan rejected this approach, since she couldn’t control the candidate’s disappointment or prevent the candidate from exploring other opportunities.

Option 2 - Force the issue. Double the number of phone calls and emails, break down the hiring manager’s door, or get somebody – anybody – at the company to intercede and get an answer.

“Yes, take control!” thought Joan. But would pitching a hissy fit really heighten the employer’s sense of urgency? No, she decided. And besides, a frontal assault might annoy the employer and possibly make matters worse.

Option 3 – Throw more resumes at the employer. Assume the hiring manager needs to see more candidates in order to make a decision.

“Very tempting,” thought Joan. But without knowing what’s causing the delay, the solution of more candidates may not address the underlying problem. Maybe the employer already has too many people under consideration, in which case more choices would create even more uncertainty and more bottlenecks. Or maybe the position’s been placed on hold. Or maybe the employer’s busy putting out a fire somewhere else. Plus, if Joan were to commoditize her candidates, it might create the impression that they’re a dime a dozen.

Option 4 – Shop the candidate. We’re already on “hold” status until further notice. Why not present the candidate to other employers?

“I like it,” thought Joan. Since she couldn’t ignite the employer’s sense of urgency or speed up the timeline, Joan figured she might as well target new companies who might have an interest in her candidate. In fact, the more she thought about it, the more she saw the upside.

Not only would Joan expand her horizons, she’d increase her odds of making a placement by creating more opportunities. Plus, she’d stay on top of the candidate’s job search activity, helping to ensure that any and all offers would be brokered by Joan. And if one of the bidders happened to be Joan’s sleepwalking client, then so much the better. It might just reinforce the notion that in today’s war for talent, those who snooze are more likely to lose.

(c)2012 Bill Radin

Views: 2009

Comment by Jerry Albright on April 4, 2012 at 9:21am

Did Joan have a discussion with the client before the interview regarding feedback time frames, etc?  Was an agreement reached?  Did Joan let her candidate know of the feedback process and set expectations accordingly? 

What I'm trying to pinpoint here - is whether things have now changed and the client is NOT doing what they agreed to - thereby, through action, telling Joan to make alternate decisions........or was Joan simply "hoping" that the manager would give her feedback in a timely fashion?

For me the key in deciding which direction to take is in being able to spot when something has changed.  How do we (Joan) know if anything has or has not changed?  If the post interview process was never discussed then she simply looks like an over-zealous newbie begging for feedback.

Comment by bill josephson on April 4, 2012 at 9:23am

Excellent tack, Bill.


In today's recruiting, partially due to the awful economy the companies are engaged in serious foot dragging when it comes to the interview/hiring process with zero urgency as they're most often impervious to missing on a candidate seemingly believing GOD will be walking through the door next at below market salary requirements.


And as you said, you have no idea as to why they lack responsiveness. With now so many client employees involved in the interview process with everyone getting in on the act, numerous more interview steps, loads of competition from candidates easily accessible to the client in this economy and due to technology, iffy business climate for them, internal candidates you're never told about as it's not in their best interest to tell you, and the worst......they're stockpiling candidates for anticipated future openings predicated on business plan or awarding of a contract that I find I can't take anything the client says to the bank.


The only proof is in their interview/hiring process behavior. The "take away" approach asking your client if you should send your candidate on other interviews is a sound one, providing the candidate's skills are marketable elsewhere. And a deadline you're serious about executing is important when the client is unresponsive. "If I don't hear by the end of the week I'll assume I should start generating other interviews for my candidate as he/she is looking to explore career options doing so with or without my assistance" is powerful leverage.


Indeed, I wouldn't post what I just did if over the last couple of years I haven't encountered every corporate client stall imaginable regardless of what's being said as word credibility, in my world, seems to have become passe in today's buisness climate.


Perhaps, we're now all just California style. Saying has become the same as doing, even when you never did it. ..

Comment by bill josephson on April 4, 2012 at 9:47am

Jerry, rarely today is any qualifying and commitment followed through on.  The working agreement you made in theory becomes something else in real practice.  I could offer a litany of working agreements agreed upon, which never materialized the way they were set up.

In other words, when you line up for that 35 yard field goal dead center when you look up it's 55 yards, and off to the right hash mark.

Comment by Darryl Dioso on April 4, 2012 at 9:49am

We have in our contract that clients are to give feedback within 48hrs and still we have some that go "dark". 

Good suggestion. It's like a Realtor waiting for that family that refuses to commit to the house. Have another open house and put it back on the market.

Comment by Jerry Albright on April 4, 2012 at 10:00am

Bill - while I agree there are times where follow-up/process agreements are not followed, my reply to Bill was directed toward discovering whether "Joan" had that discussion or not.

If you've never had the discussion then you're simply left hanging out in a sea of hope and mystery.  If you HAVE had the discussion then you know - it's NOT going down the way you all agreed.

But for the record - I have never had a week go by without feedback - or some sort of signal from my client.  If you can't get a peep out of your "client" in a week then there is a bigger issue I think.  With texting, tweeting, DM's, email, phones, etc. - there is no reason for zero connection afterwards.

This really gets put back on the decisions made and discussions had between Joan and the client.  Did HR send everyone on the PVL a req?  Did Joan submit through the ATS and get an email telling her to have her candidate show up for an interview Wednesday at 3 pm?  If so then there is a whole other story here.

But perhaps Joan has recruited for this company since '89 - and this is her top client but for some reason they've gone silent?

We simply have no idea of which direction to go here with these theoretical scenarios.  Fun though - but can't really solve anything I guess.

Comment by bill josephson on April 4, 2012 at 10:45am

Jerry, understood.  I always have the conversation.  But in this environment the 3rd party recruiter is the "straight man" in the process.  We can be used 'pro bono' for time periods and receive nothing while providing a free candidate market "educational/informational" benefit.

And this cuts across new and old business contacts/clients and at all corporate hierarchy levels.  The VP is too far above the fray, Director has too many other issues, Manager sloughs off feedback gathering to their senior technical people with no urgency or desire to push them, and HR/TA just waits till they're told something.

Never seen such process dysfunctionality across the board and, again, chalk it up to the economic times where companies have all the leverage.


Comment by Jerry Albright on April 4, 2012 at 10:47am

Bill J - if you recruit IT folks - give me a call.  I have a few clients that call me daily wanting to know when they can interview someone that they'll then call me at home to tell me about if it's after 5.  :)

Comment by bill josephson on April 9, 2012 at 9:45am

Jerry, I'm holding onto this note.  Resolving some situations now I've been working on.  If they stall out you'll be hearing from me.

Best Regards,


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