Two things have happened in the past couple of weeks that has made me realise why recruiters generally have a poor reputation amongst both clients and job seekers. This poor reputation is not confined to external recruiters but also internal recruiters or Talent Acquisition people. 

Before I talk about the instances let me say from the outset that I am neither perfect or do I believe that every recruiter performs their job without care. What did happen has made me think fundamentally about the role of a recruiter, his/her relationship with those that interact with them and how the business is perceived by its users.

I am currently helping my 20 year old son secure his first job. He has prepared a well written CV, and is applying for entry level roles involving IT and computers in the London area. These roles are advertised either by recruitment agencies or by companies employing internal talent acquisition staff. His applications have been either through job boards (Monster, TotalJobs, Reed etc.) or direct to the company or agency. All in all he has now made 10 applications in the past 2 weeks. He has not had one single response from any of these applications – positive or negative, be it a standard letter. Nothing.

Last week I advertised a New Business Director role on two major marketing focussed job boards. Our policy towards ‘no’ letters has been to forward those candidates details who we feel are not appropriate to our part time administrative assistant to process and ‘reject’. As I knew he was away and unlikely to act on the responses for the New Business role for at least 2 weeks I decided to do them myself. Nearly every person I wrote to then wrote back thanking me for the ‘reject’ letter and promising to register for our email alerts. One email in particular stuck out where the individual said he will gladly register with us as we were ‘head and shoulders’ above our competitors and indeed everybody else in the recruitment industry by replying!


So – the question is why? Why don’t recruiters respond to applications? My 20 year old son looking for his first data-entry job may one day become an MD of a company. He is certainly a very gifted individual (if I am allowed to say so myself!). He may join a business competitor to one of the companies that he has recently applied to directly and rise through the ranks and then become of interest by the ‘silent’ business. Indeed one of his friends now or in the future may ask him what he thinks of that said company – his response will be – they ignored me when I was seeking my first job.

Talent Acquisition? – pah! From his experience and from others I’ve heard about this function will do for recruitment what offshore call centres has done for customer service. Recruiters? Their reputation is somewhere on a par with undesired door to door salesman and ‘chuggers’.     


I see organisations such as REC and IOR talk about raising standards and ‘ethical’ behaviour, charging a fee to join their organisations but the most basic, fundamental thing, the number one complaint from people about recruiters – replying to candidates - they have nothing to say about in their articles of association so consequently have little or no value to their industry or the people they are supposed to help and utilise their members' services


So, what does this mean for Premier Consultants? Well for one thing we have now made it our policy to respond to every single response- personally. We will give feedback on why people have not been progressed if requested. We may fail but we will try and email everyone.


Finally if you don’t believe it makes a difference read this email sent in response to a reject letter below: -


Dear Russell


First and foremost I wish to thank you for your email, so few companies one applies to have the simple decency to reply and I can honestly say (for what is no doubt the silent and slighted majority) it really does make a large and very personal difference.


At the very least I will continue to view Premier Consultants as a company with the interests of all  its customers in mind (on both sides of the net!)


With very many thanks and kind regards    


Thank you for reading. RW 14-09-2012

Views: 3907

Comment by Andrew Hanneman on September 18, 2012 at 10:49am

I always respond any inquiry, I'd say 80% are largely people that have no chance of being placed in it, are not even remotely in the same field.  But for the most part, the people who inquire today who are not qualified, I'll run into 2-5 years from now when they are.  Everyonce and a while, the diamond in the ruff inquires and I'm usually shocked!.  Regardless I respond to all, and usually give advice on how to get first job etc

Comment by Bob Sharpe on September 19, 2012 at 8:32am

Thank you for posting this Russel.  I think responding is a matter of respect, and it helps build relationships that can benefit us in a variety of ways down the road.  I appreciate your perspective and thank you again for posting.

Comment by Jason Webster on September 19, 2012 at 10:10am

I agree with your point Russell. I also believe that the "black hole" effect gives recruiters a bad rap. However, had this article been written by a candidate outside of the recruiting industry I think we would see a much longer list of reasons. We would also see it written with a fever pitch. The majority of candidates (both active and passive) are frustrated not only with lack of response, but also with how they are treated when they do get a response. I would encourage recruiting professionals to seek specific feedback about you and your company from candidates you come in contact. That is the best way to get actionable intelligence. That said, I definitely agree that the "black hole" is incredibly frustrating, primarily for active job seekers.

Comment by Suresh on September 19, 2012 at 10:10am

Russell you are absolutely correct, we particularly remember our first experiences with recruiters right after college. That's when most poeple are vulnerable, excited, anxious about getting their first job.

I still remember my campus interviews from almost 25 years ago, my first interaction with an arrogant recruiter, the recruiter that was very professional and one who delievered the great news. In fact my interaction with an arrogant recruiter actually drove me into this business...believing it can be done better.

Comment by Jason Webster on September 19, 2012 at 10:11am

*contact with

Comment by Terra on September 19, 2012 at 10:31am

Unfortunately it looks like you are preaching to the choir, I, like everyone else here, have always responded, and the irony of this is that the only ones, so far, responding to this blog are the ones who respond to the resumes. 

Comment by Steven J. LoBasso on September 19, 2012 at 10:31am


For the most part you are correct but you looking at things from the corporate recruiter standpoint and not a technical recruiter working on contingency positions.

I do not have a admin temp to perform this function and typically I am working on 15-18 positions at one time.

I would love to send a reply to everyone that replies and have set up an automated response via our web site but it is just not possible to respond to every candidate when I am getting in 25-50 per day.

I will also say that with unemployment as high as it is today we get about 10-15% of the applicants who are overreaching when they apply for a position and have little to none of the skills required to fill the position.

I know that it has to be tough to be out of a position and I feel for these people but they are wasting valuable time, bot mine and their but submitting to a position that they are not qualified for.

As always our profession is about balance and you need to spend your energy on those activities that will bring you the bigger reward.

Comment by Stuart Musson on September 19, 2012 at 10:37am

Russell, I agree with your points as well and, like most that have replied to this post, I reply to 99% of candidates that apply to my postings whether they are a fit or not. Most are very appreciative of this small but kind gesture.

I have also been on the other side of this “black hole” when applying for positions (contract virtual recruiter) and as a tenacious recruiter I do go a few steps above just applying. We as recruiters all know how to find people and most job adverts have the “reporting to” title listed therefore I will investigate and obtain a number and email of this person.

Then follow up directly with this individual via email and a couple of calls/messages followed by another email over an appropriate timeframe to allow them to reply. Miraculously with all these touch points I still do not get a reject or any other communication from some people/companies.

The final step is to send an email that is worded in this way:

“Hi NAME, Just a quick follow up as I have not heard back from you with the voice/email messages I have left and I suspect it's because you're either swamped at work, I've been wrong at guessing the times you might be available or you are just really not interested in my services. Whatever the reason if you wouldn't mind letting me know how to proceed, that would be great.   

I am looking forward to hearing from you soon and have a great day!

Cheers, Stuart Musson”    

I do get about 20% hit rate on this email with some sort of reply but mostly it goes ignored.

Talk about bad EMPLOYMENT BRANDING. However it does give you a great insight to whether or not you want to work for such a company as a recruiter ;-)

Comment by Russell White on September 19, 2012 at 10:45am

Hi Steven,

I was discussing my points with high volume recruiter that works a range of roles. Like you they get a high volume of applicants - what they do is auto-respond and say thanks for the details and if you haven't heard back in 3 working days assumed you are not progressed and feel free to reappply for new roles. I think the fact you send one out is great.

The 'junior' role I recently advertised on a generalist job board included applicants making applications so they can 'prove' to the Job Centre they have applied for the subscribed number of jobs to get their benefits!

I just think it is bad practice not to respond with anything to an indvidual who has made an effort (however small) to approach you. You're right - it's not profitable and won't help generate income but I think that the recruitment process has become so dehumanised and that sometimes by showing a bit of care and kindness something positive may come back to you in an unexpected way!  


Comment by Jody Dugan on September 19, 2012 at 10:55am

Thank you for sharing this article, Russell. I would like to say that I am sorry for your situation and the frustration you are feeling.

As noted above in responses, I agree that professional recruiters do intend to respond to all inquiries. In a perfect world, we do. However, as I may quote you, “ Before I talk about the instances let me say from the outset that I am neither perfect or do I believe that every recruiter performs their job without care.” That being said, I believe that true professional recruiters do care a great deal and put an immense amount of energy and time in their work. Of course, there are those who continue to give recruiters a bad name but that goes with any industry and profession.

There are several things that could be going on:

  • Rejection letters/responses may not reach the intended recipient as a result of many factors (Emails going to spam folder, glitches in the Email system or the site in which one applies, etc.).

  • Some job postings receive hundreds of responses/applies in a day. When qualifications are clearly stated in the job posting, I don't believe a “rejection letter” is a mandate to an applicant who does not posses the qualifications that are listed on the posting. Is your son applying for jobs where he doesn't meet the necessary requirements needed to fill the role? If he does meet the requirements, does his resume need revision to attract and grab the reader's attention all the while keeping it simple and on one page?

  • In a perfect world, dedicated recruiters would like to respond to all applicants. However, there are times when people in their roles have diversions or may miss things, including a rejection letter. I'm not saying that is ok. I am simply stating the obvious - people aren't perfect.

  • There are, and always will be, some bad eggs who just shouldn't be in the recruiting position because they lack the necessary passion and have self-fulfilling intentions. However, these individuals can be found in professions across the board and should not be the role model used to identify that particular occupation.

I do hope your son lands a position where he finds happiness and can growth with a company who will provide career advancement. All the best!


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