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: 13671

Comment by Jennifer M Green on February 14, 2013 at 5:14pm

I don't think I would, "try to swoop in and save the day". But I might call or connect to see if I could help on his search.  Nothing wrong with that.  I am in the business of helping people find jobs.  But I return calls and emails.  For me it's respect.  But I know, from recent experience as a candidate, that recruiter's don't call back (even if they tell you in a phone interview that they will) or return phone calls.  I look at it as part of my responsibility as a recruiter and a professional representing the company I work for to.  And if I do it the minute I get it or the email. It takes me a minute to handle it as opposed to 10, 20 or 30 minutes later explaining to the candidate why I didn't take the time to circle back.  Or to my boss because this person got to someone higher up in the organization.  I am very often taken aback by non-responsive recruiters.  Cause my thinking...you just never know.  Back to that minute now saving me many later.

Comment by Bob McIntosh on October 26, 2015 at 1:33pm

From a career advisor's point of view, I would tell the guy to swallow his pride and NEVER seek revenge online. Although this might not be occupational suicide, it would definitely portray him as a hothead and possibly unstable in the workplace. I've been telling my folks that recruiters are making a real push to treat job candidates more favorably, as they realize that candidates are important in the equation as well. Nonetheless, some recruiters lack courtesy and commonsense, and are giving other recruiters a bad name.

You might expect me and other career advisors to sympathize with jobseekers--we do to a point--but the goal is to develop partnerships with recruiters and HR so that they can get in front of the hiring manager. My guess, Amy, is that you settled this person down, talked him of the ledge, and the unresponsive recruiter finally made contact with him and presented him to the hiring manager.

PS. I had it stuck to me by a client who never paid me for my services. When I asked a colleague if I should send him a nasty email, she told me never to write anything in anger, as he may use it against me online. That was a lot of crow to swallow. But I think she's right.

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