When the Candidate asks..."Why didn't you call me?

Some days, don't you wish you could just say it out loud?  When the company business is hopping, and things get hyper busy, time becomes a rare commodity. Time is golden. One day, I had one of those candidates that was extremely persistant (I have caller ID, they really did call 4-5 times in one day), and it took alot of energy not to respond in a fashion that would have probably cause trouble with my boss.  Let me share the scenario:

The Candidate: "Why didn't you call me"? "I applied to your position, I followed up with three phone calls, an email, and I still haven't heard word from anyone." “The least you can do is call me...”

Me: At this point, is there really an answer I can give that won't get me fired?   I have about 30 seconds or my schedule is off for the rest of the day.  I am tempted.

In my imagination this is what I would say: " Well, candidate, let’s take a look at my day. I have 10 different hiring managers who all believe their opening should come first, and I have 45 interviews to schedule, two new job descriptions to write, an offer to negotiate, and about 200 new resumes to review, including yours. I will get through reading all 200 resumes. Yes, I really did scan through them all. I forward to the hiring manager the top 20 out of that group, and wait to get some feedback. They decided they want to speak with about six of those. (That part alone could take days, by the way) Unless you made that top six, you are probably not going to hear from me, at least not directly. You might get one of those generic emails from the Applicant Tracking system generated when your resume was turned down, or not selected for that particular role. At the pace I am going, if I actually called the other 194 resumes that were not selected at this point, I would have to work the next seven hours straight, just getting on the phone, or typing an email.

"This is a picture of a typical day, in the typical life of a corporate recruiter. This is just a snapshot. Now, let's do a little more math. Now, imagine if you will I am also working on 30 other positions with anywhere from 20 to 200 resumes to read per posting”.

"You wondered why I didn't call you back. I tell you this, "If you are selected to move forward and there is an interest in your resume at that time, I will most certainly be calling you." Otherwise, in my world, on any given day, you are right; I did not or probably will not be calling you back”.

Instead, I just simply have to say, "Thank you for your interest. I see that the manager has decided to pursue other candidates at this time..."

What would you say?

Views: 5515

Comment by pam claughton on March 26, 2013 at 4:18pm

If someone calls and emails me their resume, I'll always shoot them a quick email back letting them know the status and if they're not a fit, I just let them know there are other candidates in the loop that have stronger backgrounds. As busy as people get, it just takes a few seconds to send a status update and if they're calling more than once, they're obviously anxious to know something. I think most people just want to be acknowledged and really appreciate any update, even if it's not good news.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 26, 2013 at 4:42pm

I do almost the same thing Pam, As i review resumes i sent a quick email to each candidate who is not a fit with a quick note as to why.  eg, Thank you for your resume, unfortunately due to not enough background or experience i will not be moving forward with your resume at this time.  Thank you again for contacting us.

Or, "your resume looks interesting, please call me tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 to discuss."

If i get a repeat caller like the one you described i shoot them an email rather than call back.  It might say something like.  "John, i received your voice mail.  at this time the hiring manager has selected several candidates to move forward in the process.  If that changes i will be in touch.  Thanks for checking in."

I truly believe it is possible to acknowledge hundreds of applications with very little effort.  Sometimes that is something that i do for an hour or so every evening.  The only ones i do not ackhowledge are the ones that are so far off the mark that they are too dumb to know they didn't get a response.  Like the McDonalds crew chief with a GED who applies for a regional sales director or a web developer.

Comment by Darren Scotland on March 26, 2013 at 6:27pm

I'm with Sandra. For me, if someone has taken the time to apply for a role - assuming they're in the ball park in terms of experience - the least they deserve is an acknowledgement of that.

I think too many recruiters forget what it's actually like as a candidate sometimes - it's bloody frustrating and like Pam points out, they're anxious to hear news. 

I generally send a templated response saying that their application hasn't been successful. I also acknowledge it's a template in the email and apologise for not having the time to give specific feedback but invite them to give me a call if they think I've called it wrong. People rarely call but often email back thanking me for the response.

Sure it takes a bit of time but that's all - a bit of time - and given so many other recruiters don't bother, it's a mega easy way of standing out from the crowd. After all, they might not be the right candidate but their mate might be and I'll stand a much better chance of finding them if the first guy/girl says nice stuff about me.

Comment by Josue Chavez on March 27, 2013 at 9:07am

I agree with Pam and Sandra in providing a quick thank you note.  However, I am guilty of not always responding to all applicants and, like Sandra, I do not acknowledge those who are clearly not qualified for the position.

Comment by Helen Burbank (Appleby) on March 27, 2013 at 9:14am

From the candidate point of view: (assuming) they have taken the time to look for a job that is relevant to their skills, update their resume to reflect what the recruiter is asking for, and put at least some effort into a decent cover letter I think that at least an automated email is required so that they aren't left hanging, waiting and hoping for a call that isn't going to come. Everyone is busy.  

Comment by Mitch Sullivan on March 27, 2013 at 9:24am

Does your company say the same thing to potential customers when they phone in?

Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on March 27, 2013 at 9:24am

I respond to every resume I receive.  I will either interview them or not. If not, I thank them for their interest and, if appropriate, tell them I will keep them on file for the future.  If they are not appropriate, I tell them why.  It only takes a minute and it keeps them from calling me incessantly.  I never send a candidate to a company without their express permission, even if I have the job listed and they apply. I always call to discuss the job.  However, unlike many recruiters, I rarely send more than three or four candidates. Often, I only send the one or two best.  My clients love me for that and it is a far more easy process for me to manage.  And I make plenty of placements.  Of course many candidates, despite their background and my job specs, think they are perfect for everything.

Comment by Jacob S. Madsen on March 27, 2013 at 9:34am

Sandra said it: I truly believe it is possible to acknowledge hundreds of applications with very little effort.  Sometimes that is something that i do for an hour or so every evening.

Guys the industry of a recruitment is a p e o p l e business, and that means treating people with the decency and respect required. Either do your job properly (as illustrated by those that do respond) devise a system by which you do come back and respond, or sorry to say get out as you are are not fit for purpose. There are no excuse in this day and age for not shooting someone a 10 second email or provide an answer, be it generic and/or of a more candidate specific nature. The excuse of 'if you are of interest I'll call you, if not, - black hole' sorry that belong to 3rd rate down a basement dodgy recruiters that should be ashamed of themselves.

Comment by Elise Reynolds on March 27, 2013 at 9:38am

I would like to say I respond to every resume I receive.  That would not be true.  But if I get a couple of contacts, either email or phone I will respond right away.  A short email note is my favorite and I think candidates who are being passed over will prefer a less intrusive email to a phone call. 


If a candidate has invested time, phone interview or in person interview, something beyond just shooting me their resume I make them a priority and I never want to leave them hanging. 

Comment by Suzanne Levison on March 27, 2013 at 9:41am

It is possible to acknowledge people. I can imagine the frustration of a very hectic schedule, but candidates are more thinking about, "why haven't I heard back?" not about your schedule, as you mentioned. After all, this person took time to create a resume, research the position, send resume, follow up, etc~even a generic letter would work.


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