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 15 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.

  • Kevin

    I have been applying for jobs and also trying to connect the job posters or recruiters or managers for the positions that I wanted t apply on LinkedIn with customized notes. Fortunately, some recruiters and hiring managers accepted my LinkedIn connection request but most people don’t reply back to my message. Should I continue to expand my network by reaching out and connecting to recruiters or managers? I am still hoping that I could get one or two people that could direct me to an interview or even a job offer.

    • Ken Schmitt & Vicky Willenberg

      That’s a great question! I’m sorry you haven’t gotten much response from the recruiters and managers you’ve reached out to. I know as a job seeker, that can be very frustrating. My answer to your question is a resounding YES! Always continue to expand your networking and reach out to as many contacts (new and old) as you can. As frustrating as it can be to feel like you’re getting radio silence rather than a response, you are doing the right thing to find your next opportunity. Reaching out to the hiring managers/recruiters connected to the job listings you are interested in is a great idea. Also, I suggest you try to connect with those in charge at organizations that appeal to you, regardless of whether or not that have a specific job opening for you. Getting your name and resume/LinkedIn profile in front of them BEFORE there is an opening, is a great way for THEM to contact YOU as soon as one arises. Perhaps, expand your search a bit. Are there certain “dream” companies you’ve always wanted to work for? Is there a specific leader you’ve come across who you think would be great to work for? Get creative and cast your net wide and deep. You are doing all the right things. Unfortunately, it just take some time. But, as you said, it just takes one or two people to get you an interview or even a job offer.

  • George

    Found the article by googling “why would a recruiter stop communicating?” which is exactly the central topic here.
    However, I did not get an answer, and I find very educating the fact that it is written by a recruiter.
    First, lets notice that all reasons are about you, the job seeker. So, if at some point in the process the recruiter stops communicating, then you and only you, certainly had to have done something wrong.
    Second, the reasons: the job seeker is either too needy, rude, or too indifferent.
    While I do get the first three: nobody likes someone too pushy or rude, the last two make no sense.
    The fourth tells me that a recruiter does no like when a candidate entertains multiple offers. Excuse me, how do you call the recruiter entertaining multiple candidates? Is this a valid equal reason for a candidate to break contact with you? Fairness should go both ways. And if a candidate took him/herself out of the process, then he/she will never ask the question “why is the recruiter not calling?”.
    Same reasoning for the last one: it was actually you, the candidate who broke contact with the recruiter. Huh? Just a couple of sentences above, the candidate was accused of either being too needy or too impatient.
    Tough balancing act you are asking for: not too needy and impatient, but also not too uninvolved and indifferent.
    Anyway, I did not find my answer.
    I was cold called on LinkedIn, I presume on the strength of my profile, confirmed interest, and then was offered an interview and was asked for contact details. Then, radio silence. Crickets. Since this was not the first time, I started researching, which brought me here.
    If I am to take the advice on face value, then while none of the offered reasons apply to me, it still must be something that I did wrong. I guess I should have demanded transparency and asked the recruiter if they were entertaining multiple candidates and then fail to show up to the interview, then stop communicating and finally wonder why the recruiter does not call back.

    • Ken Schmitt & Victoria Willenberg

      Hi, George. Thanks for your comments. I want to clarify a couple of things that may have been miscommunicated. First, the first goal of the article was to address the most common misunderstanding we encounter when working with candidates: As an executive search recruiter (not a headhunter or staffing company) we work for the client, rather than the job seekers. Does that mean we don’t care about the job seeker? Of course not. However, OUR employer is the client which means we are working within the parameters of their expectations, organization, and open role. While this may seem insignificant, it is the crux of the problem recruiters and job seekers often have. When a job seeker engages with a recruiter based on the belief that we work for him or her, their expectations in relation to frequency of communication, job placement guarantee, etc follow. This is when conflict and frustration arise.

      Our second goal, was to be specific and address instances we see over and over. We certainly do not blame the candidate for miscommunication or problems. Obviously. Like in any relationship, both parties are responsible for a breakdown. While it is easy to blame the recruiter for not getting things done the way the candidate wants, there are many classic behaviors they exhibit that make the process more difficult and are often based on their misunderstanding of the recruiter’s role. And, at the end of the day, there are absolutely crummy recruiters out there (like in every other profession) who carry the weight of responsibility for failed communication.

      Believe it or not, we’ve experienced all of the scenarios we listed- including the last 2 you felt didn’t make sense. As a recruiter, we have no problem with candidates entertaining multiple offers. It’s the nature of this current market. The problem we run into is a lack of transparency. When a candidate fails to tell us they’re entertaining other offers and goes radio silent, fails to show up to interviews, or springs it on the client at the 11th hour as a way to demand a different compensation package, that’s a problem. Be honest. Tell the recruiter and the client that you’re interviewing for several roles with other companies. Just like they should be honest and share that they are interviewing other candidates. Jumping ship without warning at the last minute after going through weeks and weeks of interviews isn’t the way to go. Indifference is another issue we’ve encountered. Candidates who take days or even weeks to respond to emails or phone calls and play “hard to get” or ghost in and out of the process, obviously don’t want the job. As we said in the article, if you want the job, go for it! Be proactive.

      As an executive recruiting firm, it is our job to educate job seekers as well as potential candidates about how to work together. Our job is to find the best possible candidate to fill a role AND make sure that candidate is treated with respect through the process by all parties and finds the job they want.

      Here are a few of the articles we’ve written to educate companies.

  • Greg

    Hello all,

    I beg to differ with this article.

    If a recruiter calls initially with a job opportunity, there is usually a good dialogue. Then….the silence. It should be quite apparent to recruiters that a candidate will call to followup on their status. This is just a natural and necessary action to any intelligent person seeking work. Stalking?….it’s known as reminding them you are still THEIR candidate. Far too many times I have heard the same things; they are in a meeting, they are out, they left earlier, and so on. So I send followup emails or voice mail. Still, many do not respond. This is just plain unprofessional! Recruiters are in a “people business” to begin with, therefore should keep in mind they are not working with faceless automatons who are just “a brand” for them to fill a position. If this is the case, than the recruiting system as the entire mindset they currently have requires an overhaul.

    As far as minding manners, many seem to have a need to utilize an ongoing monologue rather than a true conversation. The candidate has points to make as well and this should be considered during the initial phone call or any later contact. Also, if a candidate is not selected for a position than inform them. Candidates need to know their status, whether positive or negative. It helps them gauge their overall job search activity. If nothing is communicated to them, how will they know if the job is till open to them?

    There are some good recruiters out there, but unfortunately not many. Most remind me of “fast-talking used car salesmen”. I just feel there should be more of a professional and personal method utilized than some of the strategy currently in use. And that is not to just focus on the actual recruiter, their management teams as well. It is usually “a top to bottom” structure.

    • Ken Schmitt & Victoria Willenberg

      Hi, Gregory. Thanks for your response. You’ve made some excellent points here. I’d like to respond to each of them. As to your first point, I agree 100% that candidates should be following up for a status update after being contacted by a recruiter. My only caveat would be this, take note of what the recruiter says to you regarding next steps when the initial call is finished. For example, our recruiters will typically end with “Thanks for your time, after our discussion, I don’t think you are quite the fit our client is looking for. If something changes going forward, I will reach out to you.” Other times, they may something like this, “I’m continuing to conduct first round phone calls. When it’s time to move forward, I will follow up with you.” My point being, if a recruiter informs you of next steps, wait for those next steps to come to fruition. A recruiter will NOT forget a candidate who is a great fit and ready to move on in the process. Therefore, if they haven’t reached out after telling you they would IF you are to move on in the process, it is safe to take them at their word and move on in your job search. The KEY here is a recruiter who respectfully communicates next steps.

      In regard to the manners of conversation… you are spot on! Recruiters who treat the conversation as a monologue and not an opportunity to gather information and learn about the candidate (experience, interests, goals, etc) is not doing his/her job well! As I said above, communicating a potential candidate’s status is extremely important here, as well. Balancing the professional and personal in a recruiting strategy is key. Unfortunately, there are definitely recruiters who are more “salesy”. This is one of the reasons why I’ve kept our firm at its current size rather than accepting offers to expand. By maintaining a more boutique-style, our team is able to blend the professional and personal well. We are not slammed with more searches than we can fill, resulting in automated responses and unanswered phone calls. I think the volume of many firms is what creates the “fast-talking used car salesmen” feeling job seekers get. And, as you said, these relationships should be happening from the top down.
      Thank you again, for weighing in on the conversation.

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