Think you have been ghosted by a recruiter? Here’s the harsh truth about why it happens - and what you can do about it.
It all starts out so well doesn’t it?
The recruiter reaches out to you on LinkedIn with the job of your dreams and tells you that you are a perfect fit for their client.
With the promise of an increased salary package, a shorter commute, and a fantastic company culture plus perks, you excitedly submit your resume when you get home that night.
It continues the next day.
They call you first thing and want to get you in as soon as possible for an interview. You check your calendar and get back to them with your availability.
They come back that same afternoon and arrange an interview for the next day.
Driving back after your interview you are confident that this is the job for you. Everything went smoothly and they tell you they will be back soon as they need to fill the position.
A couple of days pass so you call the recruiter for a chat. It goes to voicemail so you leave a message and send them an email.
Another couple of days pass so you try again. And again. And again.
You call into their office and an abrupt receptionist says the recruiter is busy and will get back to you if she needs to.
Silence sets in and you never hear from them again.
What does being ‘ghosted by a recruiter’ actually mean?
I have just given you one example of ghosting but it can happen at any stage in the recruitment process.
However, there is a difference between simply being unsuccessful and being ghosted.
Applying for a job and hearing nothing back is very frustrating but also very common and just means that you have not been successful.
Ghosting is when there has been some positive direct engagement with a recruiter and then they have dropped you and never spoken with you again.
This can happen after a screening interview, a first interview, or a second interview.
So, why do they do this? Why are you the best candidate in the world one minute and then suddenly not even worthy of a quick call back the next?
7 reasons jobseekers are ghosted by a recruiter
Reason 1 - Profit before people
Successful recruiters can earn big money, and that causes a problem. It is unfortunately true that the industry can attract the wrong kind of people who are more motivated by the dollar than by treating people with the respect they deserve.
If you face one of these types of recruiters, you need to realise they will drop you as soon as they know they will not be making a commission from you, with no explanations given.
Reason 2 - Industry churn
As it is a sales based role, recruiters have targets to meet and beat to keep their own jobs. As a result, there is a very high churn rate within the industry.
So you may think you have been ghosted but, in reality, they may no longer be working for that company anymore.
Reason 3 - Researchers vs recruiters
Larger firms and corporate recruiters often employ teams of researchers to assist in the process of headhunting and candidate acquisition.
Their job is to find and complete a first screen of applicants prior to the actual recruitment consultant being involved.
Further, they will often use a recruiter’s name and email address to communicate with you.
What’s the problem with this you may be wondering?
Well the thing is, researchers typically do not have the skills and abilities of a recruiter.
You could have many interactions with them where they make you feel special but then, when a recruiter sees your resume, they say no and reject you.
Reason 4 - Something changed - but they can't tell you
The recruitment process takes a long time so things may well have changed since the recruiter originally contacted you.
- The perfect internal candidate may have applied.
- The budget for the role could be threatened and now up for discussion
- A merger could potentially be on the cards
- Or the hiring manager may have changed their mind about what they want entirely.
Recruiters can be privy to confidential information but they just can’t pass this on to you.
Reason 5 - They found something they didn't like
Good recruiters are thorough. After all, that’s what they get paid for.
When a company is seriously interested in you they will dig a little deeper.
Part of this process may reveal a side of you that you didn’t intend to reveal.
For example, perhaps they found a post on LinkedIn where you have ben antagonistic and unprofessional towards someone?
Or maybe they have followed up with one of your referees and didn’t like what they heard?
Such factors are key reasons why recruiters may start off thinking you are perfect – but then drop you like a stone.
Reason 6 - They don't have time to get back to you
You are probably thinking that this is not such a big deal. Everyone is busy so that is not an excuse.
In defence of recruiters though, here is a fact.
It is estimated that approximately 50% of all job applications are from jobseekers who are not qualified for the roles they are applying for.
Recruitment consultants are deadline driven and unqualified applicants take up so much of their time.
This can lead to them abruptly dropping people and moving on to the next one immediately to try to produce results in a timely manner for their clients.
Reason 7 - Because they can!
To test people’s feelings towards recruiters not communicating with them I recently ran a poll on LinkedIn.
I compared another industry known for tardiness, real estate, and this was the result.
That is pretty conclusive but what does this mean?
It shows that recruitment is unique in that it is almost accepted that you will not get a response.
In other industries, this would be totally unacceptable.
Recruiters know they can get away with it because people’s expectations are so low – and many take advantage of this.
If you are now feeling a little deflated by this long list of reasons, don’t be. Do something about it instead.
Here are 7 ways in which you can minimise the chances of being ghosted by a recruiter going forwards.
7 ways to avoid being ghosted by a recruiter
Step 1 - Be selective
Only apply for jobs that you confident you are qualified for. Ghosting is far more likely to happen to people if they are a weaker candidate for a role. You may get through the first round, but you will be dropped as the competition heats up.
Step 2 - See every interaction as an interview
Remember that every time you interact with a recruiter, they are assessing you.
Don’t save your best behaviour for interviews only. Be professional and mindful with all your calls and emails.
If a recruiter wants information from you, get it to them promptly and show enthusiasm for every step of the process.
A careless slip of the tongue or delay in getting back to them may well cost you the job.
Step 3 - Clean up your online profiles
Whether you like it or not, if you have one or more active social media accounts then you have what is known as a social resume.
This is on display 24/7 and can make or break your next career move because yes, recruiters will absolutely check you out online to see who you really are.
Use this guide to clean up your act now before your next job application.
Step 4 - Screen your referees
When did you last speak with your referees? Do they have an up to date copy of your resume? Do they really know what you are capable of? And, are they still happy to provide a reference for you?
Relationships change over time so make sure you are giving this important job to the right people who will say the right thing if a recruiter contacts them.
Use this guide to make sure your referees work for you rather than against you.
Step 5 - Ask questions - at the beginning
Don’t wait till the end and then barrage recruiters with loads of questions.
Manage your expectations by asking recruiters important questions right at the start of the process such as:
- Why is this position available?
- How long has it been open for?
- When do you need to fill it by?
- How many other candidates are you interviewing?
- Do you have any internal candidates?
- Will there be second round interviews?
Sometimes you are not actually being ghosted. It’s just that you don’t understand the process and why there a gaps of silence in between recruitment activity.
Step 6 - Follow up - the right way
If you ask the right questions you will be able to follow up the right way.
For example, if you know they have other candidates to interview next week, wait till the Friday and then send an email saying that you hope the other interviews went well and that you are still very keen to progress with the role. Is there any other information you would like from me at this stage?
Pushing a recruiter at the wrong time might irritate them
Contacting at the right time is helpful to them.
Step 7 - Know when to walk away - and how to do it
Don’t give up straight away if you don’t hear back but also don’t waste your time if you are getting no response.
I understand that by this point you want to fire off a strong email that is critical of their behaviour but don’t do it.
They may still be considering you and also the recruiter may have another position that would be perfect for you.
So instead, be polite, be professional and say that you are open to discussion should the situations change.
Have you ever been ghosted by a recruiter? Share your experience in the comments below.