What To Do When A Recruiter "Goes Dark" - Part 1

I’ve been staring at this blank page for weeks. In the past couple of months I’ve heard from two very different contacts that they’ve gotten pretty far in the recruiting process, only to have the recruiter disappear. They don’t call, they don’t write. They certainly don’t pick up the phone when it rings. Why is that?

I received an email from a job seeker I've crossed paths with both as a candidate and professional networking contact. He is smart, educated, and has a great deal of experience in his industry. Yes I've looked at opportunities within MY company for him as well. Here’s the original email I received that inspired this blog –

“Because you are an HR professional that I trust and respect, I have a question/concern that I wanted to ask your advice about. 

I am tempted to publically challenge, on LinkedIn, an HR person from a large [city] [industry] company about her lack of the simple courtesy of a response to me. 

The situation is that I applied for a position that she advertised. She sent me a pre-interview questionnaire - that included a question about contacts with other company HR reps, which I chose to answer honestly that I had - and now two weeks later there has been no reply at all. Not even in response to an e-mail follow-up. 

Fully understanding that she is very likely busy and can't possibly reply to the hundreds of applicants, she asked me for additional information and should at very least tell me thank you but no thank you. I also understand that perhaps the other HRs that I have talked to may not have a favorable opinion but as a Professional HR I think she would act in a professional manner and at least let me know. After all, my time is just as valuable, right? 

I realize that making this type of challenge on LinkedIn would most likely be a fatal mistake but all of the advice and guidance that is being published seems to be aimed at helping us job seekers - and believe me we're grateful! - but shouldn't we also be able to give the HR community some feedback? 

OK, this just sounds like sour grapes and ramblings but I'm frustrated about not getting a reply when I faithfully follow-up on an HR's request for more info. 

Please don't be afraid to be brutally honest with me on this.”

Wow. This candidate, who by the way happens to be an educated, senior career level technical professional, is so frustrated about being ignored he’s ready to head out to the corner of LinkedIn and Recruiterville with a bullhorn. He’s even ready to go so far as to call out this recruiter and company by name.

Is there any more spectacular form of career harakiri?

I get it. We all dream of sticking it to the man, standing up for the little guy, being the one that finally gets through to these bull headed recruiters. Now let’s assume our friend fires off this open letter on LinkedIn. In a perfect world, this naughty recruiter sees the error of her ways, issues a public apology on behalf of bad recruiters near and far, and gets our guy an interview.

In the real world, the recruiter is most likely to A) not respond at all, or B) respond with a typical HR (or worse, PR) response about how we value your application, and assure you if there’s a fit within our organization blah blah blah zzzzzz…..

Meanwhile… what happens to our friend’s job prospects? My guess is that no recruiter who sees this response is going to want to touch him with a ten foot pole. There may be some that hold themselves so far above the usual process that they’ll try to swoop in and save the day. I can see certain agency recruiters I know using this as fuel to their “corporate recruiters suck!” fire and make him the champion of their cause. But more than likely, those that read it will shake their heads, tsk tsk about what’s wrong with the “candidate experience” and go back to business as usual. And sometimes, business as usual means even really great candidates get ignored

I cannot stress enough the respect I have for this job seeker - this guy is a GREAT CANDIDATE. Which is why I needed to share his story. It is not intended in any way to make anyone here (candidate or recruiter) look bad. I get emails like this every week.

Tune in next week for my response and the rest of the story – in the meantime, what advice would you have for this job seeker?

Views: 13734

Comment by Amber on February 12, 2013 at 1:03pm

I'm not sure what the part about his contact with other company reps means, but I guess my general thoughts in most all of these situations are:

1. Of course it would be foolish, detrimental, and futile for this person to do anything about "calling" someone out. 

2. Candidate experience? What about recruiter/hiring company experience, too? What about the candidates who do not call US back, or don't show for interviews, or don't show for the first day of work, or flake out on the job we placed them in? Or suddenly ask for 20k more then anyone ever discussed? Etc., etc., etc.

3.  I can't imagine why an agency recruiter would say anything about this being a corporate recruiter failing when I imagine it happens across the board. I know personally I try my best to contact candidates, but unless we've moved to a significant phase of the process ( from what this person wrote they weren't very far in) it isn't feasible. And when we try to at least send an automated response so they know there information was at least received, that gets criticized too.

I'll look for your post regarding your response to the candidate!

Comment by Michelle Stair on February 12, 2013 at 1:04pm

Who truly knows the cause of this unprofessional behavior?  It would be career suicide to publicly call this person and company out.  However, after giving this recruiter ample opportunity to respond, I would not be opposed to circumventing the process and reaching out someone else in HR who might be able to intervene.  I would approach it in a manner of concern for the recruiter and closure for himself.  Always take the high road in these situations.  However, these are the kind of experiences I like to file away in my mental file cabinet in case I come across this "professional" again.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on February 12, 2013 at 1:07pm

I think you both will really like part 2. :) There is a happy-ish ending... in that I think it was a real eye opener and learning experience for him. thanks for commenting! :) I totally agree with you both.

Comment by Derdiver on February 12, 2013 at 1:15pm

So, a response in a few scenarios played out. One, how do we know the recruiter is even employed there? Seriously. In a great deal of larger companies when they are failing to hit the mark in bringing on the people that they need the first knee jerk reaction is to fire the recruiting staff and bring on new people. Generally the person you were working with is not going to say HEY this person was/is good!! New staff sees the old candidates as useless because, well, the other recruiter got canned.

Two, the position is now on some kind of hold due to a budget, customer, or a vacation. I know this seems silly but believe me this happens more often than not in many cases.  I have said many times recruiters are only as good as the managers and clients they support.  We are all human and things do come up.

Three, you filled out the forms, good for you.  However that is just not what they were looking for OR you were close but not AS close as the other person(s) that did the same paperwork.  They do not want to drop you as the candidate since the person with a better response may not take the position and you are the backup. Lastly you did not make the cut. Period. You will get a letter like everyone else when the position is filled.

All in all the recruiter is blasé about their job and probably goes to meeting saying “recruiting is so tough” and “they are so hard to find” then goes in to HR benefits or something.  Chalk it up to finding a job. Always take the high road.  However, remember them.  Keep it in a file on your gmail folder list so it is always with you.  Share the name AND the company in quite smoke filled coffee halls with others. Whisper the name to friends and colleagues as a person that is not worth calling back.  Word of mouth privately can do a great deal without doing it publicly.  I have a folder of people and companies I would NEVER work for.  The list would surprise many. 

Comment by Ryan Leary on February 12, 2013 at 1:31pm

I am not sure I understand why any candidate or recruiter goes over the edge... It's not the end of the world.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 12, 2013 at 6:08pm
I would tell the candidate to keep his trigger fingers off his keyboard. As he has spoken to another person within the company I would suggest to him that he try and contact the first person he spoke with. It is possible that they have an arrangement internally that the first person who makes contact should work the candidate. It is possible that the paperwork he completed was forwarded to the first person he spoke with so he has fallen through the crack. So call recruiter one, explain that recruiter two asked if he had previous contact, who with and asked him to forward further info. He has not heard anything back so thought perhaps he was supposed to follow up with his first contact.

At very worst recruiter one will ask recruiter two about him or he may find out that recruiter two turned into an artichoke and was eaten with drawn butter. Recruiter one will track down his info and move forward.

If he is unable to make contact and gets no call back from recruiter one, I would tell him it's safe to assume that they think he is the artichoke so let's go someplace where they like artichokes. All of this is just business. All business deals do not come to fruition. No reason to throw a fit like a high school girl who got dumped and blew up on Facebook.
Comment by Martin Ellis on February 13, 2013 at 1:10pm

Not an uncommon story, but my advice mirrors all above - sleep on it! Re-assure them what goes around, comes around.

One comment above does concern me: "Two: the position is now on some kind of hold due to a budget, customer, or a vacation. I know this seems silly but believe me this happens more often than not in many cases.  I have said many times recruiters are only as good as the managers and clients they support.  We are all human and things do come up".

This happens. A lot. But it's our job to keep candidates engaged. If there's a hold up, tell people (if doesn't matter if it's somebody else's fault - and don't tell them it's somebody else's fault!). That way you'll keep them engaged and more likely to stay with you even if the ride is rather bumpy at times. Closing the deal at the end is easier with the candidates you have, rather than having to start all over again. Arghghghghghg - don't want to go there!

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on February 13, 2013 at 5:18pm

Thanks all for commenting. I totally agree with everything you've all said, and the follow up post will probably not surprise anyone. Things happen, roles and priorities change, but I have to say I had NO IDEA how much internal politicking can muck up the process sometimes until I went in-house.

Comment by Derdiver on February 13, 2013 at 5:26pm

So true Amy, so true...

Comment by Elise Reynolds on February 14, 2013 at 2:59pm

Some recruiters have very short-lived tenures.  The recruiter might not even be there anymore.  If this is truly a great candidate he should be able to find he next position .   If he is truly interested in this position at this company I would suggest he call in through the main line and ask to be transferred to the recruiter.  At least that way he will know if she moved on or not.  If she has moved on then he can ask to be transferred to the supervisor.

I agree it is very rude to ask candidates to fill out big ole questionaires and then ignore them.  I don't blame him for being offended.  But I have to question the length and level of his frustration and wonder if he is not dealing with other personal issues.


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2021   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service