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When Recruiters Are Just Not That Into You

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

By Brad Karsh, President, JobBound

You call but hear no answer. You leave a message but get no reply. You email but receive nothing. You send a letter or even call again but you never hear back. You know they’re interested, and you know it would be a great match. So why don’t you ever hear back?

Face it. Recruiting Directors just aren’t that into you. If I’ve heard one common lament from anyone looking for a job it’s this – they rarely hear back on time or at all for the jobs they apply for.

Why does it happen? Why do you get the cold shoulder, and why do they play hard to get? Here are three reasons:

A. Sheer volume. Most companies, and especially the large ones, get flooded with resumes. When I worked at Leo Burnett, it was not uncommon to get upwards of 500 to 600 resumes for one job opening. The sheer boundaries of space and time do not allow the typical recruiting director to personally get in touch with each and every candidate. To make matters worse, you’ve all been told to send your resume and then follow up in a week. Don’t expect a call back if you do contact a company. There just simply isn’t time.

B. There is no job. Could this be true? Yes, it is. Companies often post jobs when they don’t necessarily have an opening. Here’s why:

  • They want to collect resumes, so when they do have an opening, they have people to consider.

  • They have to post the job for governmental or legal reasons

  • They forgot to take the posting down from the last opening they had (happens more than you’d think).

  • In these instances, you will likely never hear back from a recruiting director.

C. Bad business. At some companies, recruiting becomes one of the last priorities. There are client demands, meetings, emails, co-worker issues, etc. Companies then relegate recruiting to the bottom of the list. The fact is recruiting should be the top priority since we all run on brain power – but not every company thinks that way. As a result, you send the resume, you even interview, but you never receive a response.

I have heard stories of candidates going on two rounds of office interviews, and then they never get a response. To me, that’s bad business.

So given that most recruiting directors are not that into you, how do you deal?

1. Don’t take it personally. It’s going to happen. Assume no one will get back to you, and then you can be pleasantly surprised when one does. Don’t get discouraged; rejection is just part of the game.

2. Let your friends do the dirty work. If you have a friend or acquaintance working at the company, don’t be afraid to have them check in for you. It will seem like less of a nuisance to a recruiting director if his own employee checks in.

3. Be persistent, not a stalker. If you’re applying for a job by sending your resume online or in person, make the call after a week to check in to see if they received it and to see if they want to talk. Don’t expect a response, and don’t follow up again.

If you’ve actually interviewed for a job, you can be more persistent. After every interview, ask when you can expect a reply, and then feel free to follow up if you have not heard back. I’d call, then email, then call again. Feel free to contact them every 3 or 4 days, but switch up how you reach out.

4. Know when to take a hint. Just like the guy or gal who never calls, there is a time to move on. You need to think to yourself, “Do I want to work for a company that doesn’t have the common decency to even call me back to tell me if I have the job after an interview?” You may wonder how they treat their current employees if this is how they treat their recruits.

The truth is the job search is a lot like dating. You may have to deal with a lot of rejection before you find the right match.

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