Is Your Recruiter Ignoring You? 5 Reasons She Might Be


You just know the recruiter you spoke to is going to help you land your ideal job! He already had three roles he thought you’d be perfect for! So, you wait anxiously for the next phone call. and wait. and wait. and..

After hours, days, or maybe weeks of anticipating some follow-up, you start to feel discouraged and begin to wonder: Is my recruiter MIA?

Chances are, your recruiter is not missing and she doesn’t hate you. But it is possible you’ve been pushed to the bottom of the pile simply by making some all-too-common job seeker mistakes. So, before making the assumption that your recruiter has ridden off into the sunset without you, stop to consider the dynamics of the recruiter-employer relationship and how you fit in as a candidate.

Understand the role of a recruiter
In general, recruiters have one primary function: to fill jobs. That sounds simple, but in reality, a recruiter’s responsibilities are far more complex. Recruiters are hired by companies to identify the best candidate for their open positions. The employer pays a fee to the recruiter to make a successful match. That means the employer is the client—not you.

This doesn’t mean the recruiter isn’t vested in your successful job search. As a quality candidate, you play a vital role in the placement process because without you, recruiters could not successfully fill their client’s job order.

However, that process has a lot of moving parts. First, recruiters invest a significant amount of time working with the client to develop an accurate full-picture job posting, ensuring they find the right talent. No one wants to be presented to a client to discuss a role that differs from the one you applied for. Next, recruiters spend time connecting with potential candidates—searching their talent pool for both active and passive professionals who possess the right combination of skills, experience and cultural fit. Then, once a group of qualified candidates is identified, they spend time collaborating with you and the employer to arrange interviews—managing both sides of the recruitment process to ensure both parties are happy with the final result.

If recruiters had a rallying cry, it would be the wise words of Jerry Maguire: “Help me, help you!”

Help you recruiter help you by avoiding these 5 things:

1. Stalking the recruiter. Recruiters know you are eager to land a job and they are just as eager to help you. Despite your enthusiasm, you must respect the process. Once a recruiter has ascertained your needs, expectations and ideal role, they get to work trying to identify an opportunity that fits. If you’re a potential fit, you’ll receive a call—promise. There is no need to email or call to check in multiple times a day or week.

2. Forgetting patience is a virtue. When a potential opportunity is identified you will work with your recruiter to determine if it’s the right fit. It’s important to be patient. Recruiters spend a lot of time going back and forth between you and the employer. Remember, they want to fill the job just as much as you want to have it. Throughout the recruitment process, your recruiter will keep you abreast of the situation. As soon as they hear word from the employer, so will you.

3. Ignoring the manners your mother taught you. If you have an active and complete LinkedIn profile, you may receive an unsolicited call or email from a recruiter. If the potential job isn’t within the compensation range you would entertain, don’t be offended and reply, “I make double that!” or “I have a job, why are you contacting me?” Simply thank the recruiter for reaching out and maybe recommend a colleague who might be a better fit. You never know when you may want to work with that recruiter in the future, so keeping your interactions respectful and professional is a good idea.

4. Confusing hiring managers with smoke and mirrors. 62% of job seekers are entertaining multiple offers. If you are participating in interviews with a different company or if you have other offers, be transparent. Don’t bail on interviews or suddenly take yourself out of the game after the process is well underway. It’s disrespectful of the employer’s time and can also have a negative effect on your personal brand.

5. Acting indifferent. If you want the job, do the work. Respond to emails and voicemails in a timely and professional manner, research both the company and the position thoroughly, engage during the interview, and send a follow up letter when it’s over. Be proactive.

Remember, a recruiter’s favorite thing to do is call a candidate with an exciting job offer. Ideally, their days could be filled with these types of calls. In the real word, recruiters have to relay disappointing news too. It’s not easy for them or you. Leverage the expertise and network of a high quality recruiter; in addition to effectively leveraging all the resources available to you as a job seeker.

And most importantly, help them help you.


About the Authors

Ken Schmitt is the President and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales & Marketing Leadership Alliance. Specializing in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country, Ken’s 18 years of recruiting experience have equipped him with the knowledge to serve as a thought partner to his clients for all recruiting, hiring and human capital-related initiatives. Ken sits on the board of Junior Achievement, San Diego Sports Innovators (SDSI), AA-ISP Orange County (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals), San Diego HR Roundtable and is an Advisory Board Member for the American Marketing Association.

Vicky Willenberg has served as the Social Media Manager for TurningPoint since 2011. In 2014, she was elevated to Digital Marketing Manager, broadening her participation across all things digital for the firm. A former teacher with a Masters in Education, Vicky is an active and published blogger at The Pursuit of Normal and a marketing professional. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the recruiting, hiring and leadership sectors.

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Showing 9 comments
  • Ifeanyi Ezeofor

    Help you recruiter help you by avoiding these 5 things:

    This should read Help “your”

    Great posting, very insightful.

  • AK

    I am very sorry to say, some are just very unprofessional people who use the small power to boost their self-esteem

    • Ken Schmitt & Vicky Willenberg

      Unfortunately, I agree with you. Like any profession, you get the good with bad. This is why I strongly suggest people research several recruiters before they commit to one. Ask for recommendations, check them out on LinkedIn and eve Yelp. Hopefully, this will help weed-out some of the less professional ones.

  • Lindsay

    I met with a recruiter for a specific role, there was a “pop” test from the employer and then the next day the recruiter let me know that I would not be invited for an interview. I wrote back to ask why? (As the feedback would go a long way in helping me become a stronger candidate for future opportunities…. no response.?3 days later I left her a voicemail politely following up on my email hoping to get some feedback. Another week and still no response. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Ken Schmitt & Vicky Willenberg

      Unfortunately, your situation is not unique. First, I applaud your effort to learn more in order to become a stronger candidate in the future. Not all job seekers are willing to go that extra mile. Secondly, it seems you have made every effort to reach out to the recruiter to gain more information. I like how you used two different approaches- email and voicemail. At this point, the ball is in his/her court and professional courtesy dictates he or she should respond. This situation says much more about the organization than it does about you. Clearly, this is not a company you want to work for if they can’t find 60 seconds to send a response to a reasonable inquiry. Your best bet is to move on in your job search. If they eventually reach out, I suggest a polite ‘thank you’ in response, but I’d move this organization to the bottom of your target list.

  • Oliver

    As someone who runs a retained search firm, I almost never provide true feedback to a candidate. The truth can be anywhere from, “This guy was good, but the woman we decided to hire had years of experience at one of our competitors,” to “He was horrible and offensive. He was rude right away – to the receptionist, and others found him to be unpleasant. He was dishonest – we caught him at several lies. Why did you present him to us?”

    Frequently, my experience in passing along a faux pas that the candidate made to anything resembling the latter comment mentioned above is an explosion from the candidate. No one likes to tell someone they didn’t get a job, regardless of what you believe. It’s worse when you are the messenger and get shot, getting a tirade for passing along information.

    The candidate isn’t paying the recruiter, so he or she really can’t expect feedback and essentially free job search coaching from a recruiter. A courteous no is all you can expect, and if there’s an explanation, take it with lots of grains of salt.

    • Ken Schmitt & Vicky Willenberg

      Oliver ~ I agree that no one wants to be the deliverer of bad news. In the case of your second example, I definitely tread more lightly. While I may not give an exact quote, I DO try to let the candidate know that he/she should work on delivery, curbing vocabulary, interacting with others (regardless of position). I’d like to hope the candidate was unaware of his/her behavior. Giving them a (diplomatic) heads up can only help them in the future. Also, as a retained firm, the candidates I bring to my client’s table should have been vetted quite thoroughly by the recruiter prior to ever meeting the client. I would hope we’d catch behaviors like these and remove them from our list if we don’t see a change in them. To your last point, while I agree that the candidate isn’t the one paying us, by the time they’ve reached the point of meeting our paying client, we’ve developed a relationship and I feel I can/should be honest about the client’s feedback and why he or she received a “no”. More often than not, we’ve found them rather than them finding us. Because of that, I take ownership of their being part of our process. They might not be paying us, but I brought them in and feel I owe them a solid explanation if they are not offered the role.
      Thanks for your thoughts!

  • Ivan Pauline

    All this is great information. I have made some misguided assumptions about the recruiter-client/candidate relationship. However, there were red flags from the start of my process with this recruiter. 1) after my first interview with the prospective company, the recruiter seemed surprised at my success and being passed to the second interview. (2 I asked for a job description t0 be fully prepared to talk specifically about the role and how I could fit, the recruiter never forwards. 3) my references are checked and then complete silence for a week. When the recruiter finally gets back to me he says he withheld some information with an apology, then begins telling me about the internal problems with the company and the agency was considering cutting ties, now the important news…another candidate has been offered the job, but has not accepted yet because the offer is 10K lower than the ask. 4) Every since the offer to the other candidate the process has stalled but they are keeping me option B, yet the company still wants to hire me for another role, they were that impressed with me???Really. 5) I think I’ve sent too many indifferent emails and believe the recruiter is holding out on purpose. 6) The preferred candidate had an in person meeting with the CEO to determine if he was accepting the offer, this was 5 days ago and nothing since. The recruiter has since stop communicating all together, what does this sound like? I really fit this job perfectly, but the scope of the job description as I understood it evolved to fit the other candidate, so they have been chasing him since, seems odd! Can someone weigh in and tell me if I am doomed!!!! Thanks

    • Ken Schmitt & Vicky Willenberg

      Wow, Ivan. First of all, your “misguided assumptions about the recruiter-client/candidate relationship” is common, which is why we wrote this article. It is the job of the recruiter you are working with to outline those expectations and give you a heads-up about what you will get from the relationship. Secondly, the thread I see woven through each of your encounters is a lack of (good) communication. First of all, no recruiter should be surprised you’ve made it to the next step of the process. That’s just unprofessional and poor people skills. Your job description request was more than reasonable and a signal that you are serious about the role and willing to do the work to land the job you want. Recruiters dream of candidates like this! As for the “radio silence”, this is something we discuss a lot. It’s quite common from recruiters and internal hiring managers. Often, it is not their fault as they are at the mercy of decision makers who might not feel the same sense of urgency you do. However, it is the recruiter’s responsibility to be your advocate and push for more information and communication if you truly are the right candidate for the job. (Tomorrow’s blog addresses this very issue.) It sounds like you have received a lot of mixed messages.

      Unfortunately, the response to your ultimate question is yes, I think you might be doomed with this particular position and recruiter. But there is hope! You can choose which recruiters you work with. Additionally, you can control your personal branding and visibility. Your LinkedIn profile and resume are up to you. Make sure you are shopping our skills around, contact target companies yourself, use LinkedIn to connect directly with internal hiring managers. If you have to find a silver lining here, if the company is not acting in good faith and is not being truthful, you’re better off not working for them and your recruiter saved you from future problems. Hope that helps. Thanks so much for reaching out.

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