You hear it from job candidates all the time: Why won’t Recruiter X respond to me? How do I deal with an unresponsive recruiter?

Not all recruiters are like this, of course. Many talent acquisition professionals are professional, responsive, and courteous — but you don’t hear a lot about them.

What you DO always seem to hear about are those in TA who don’t respond to candidates and leave them hanging. There are a number of those kind of recruiters out there, as I have found out time and time again during my own job search over the past year.

It makes you wonder: Are they bad recruiters, or is being unresponsive at times just part of the job?

How should candidates deal with an unresponsive recruiter?

That’s why this post on the LinkedIn Premium Career Group from a marketing professional in Toronto caught my eye. It’s all about one person’s struggle to figure out how to deal with an unresponsive recruiter:

“Any advice on dealing with recruiters who are unresponsive?

I had one who wanted to get in touch with me immediately. We met in person, good conversation. Said he had a great role for me and was going to put me forward. I forwarded my resume, and he confirmed he received it. I checked in a week later via email. No response.

Two weeks later, I see the role we discussed posted on LinkedIn. Should I try to go through this recruiter again, or just apply directly to the posting?

I have colleagues and friends agreeing I would be a great candidate for the role with my experience. What should I do?”

Here’s what others are saying

I know that recruiters and TA pros probably have their own responses to this query, but here’s how some of the others in the 1.1 million member LinkedIn Premier Career Group responded to this person. This is a sample of some of their their comments on how to handle an unresponsive recruiter.

  • From a QA manager in Atlanta: “Finding a good recruiter is like finding a needle in a haystack. Simply believe what they show you when dealing with them. In this case, submit yourself for the position and move on as the recruiter has revealed their hand to you.”
  • From a oil industry operations coordinator in Houston: “It’s unbelievable some of the unprofessionalism that exist with some recruiters. They think they are rock stars. I hope the treatment is mutual when they try to further their career. How long can it take to reply to a email? Just be short and to the point. But respond.”
  • From a recruiter and HR pro in San Diego: “I am a Recruiter myself and when I collect resumes, I often review and tailor to what the client needs or is willing to entertain. As far as your situation, you might of slipped through and need to follow up quicker. Recruiters are always busy, you are following up to see if you are a candidate for a specific position. I try to help as many applicants as I can. I tell my applicants “your job is to find a job, my job is to find you a job,” but we need to meet in the middle and follow up with me. I know there are recruiters that don’t call back, so I would go around them.”
  • From a sales manager in Zagreb, Croatia: “I read and advise to send an email with only the following sentence — “Have you given up on this project?” I always got a response, and knew where I stood.”
  • From a parts manager in Scranton, Pennsylvania: “I do not bother with recruiters anymore, they never seem to lead anywhere. Applying directly to the company is your best bet if you know who it is, even better is the hiring manager, if you can find out who that is and email them directly. Someone who knows the job is going to pick up things in your resume that HR people have no idea about.”
  • From an IT consultant in Melbourne, Australia: “I have experienced the same. One ‘recruiter’ had me attend two interviews, then a meeting with their client, and all the way along the feedback was excellent, then nothing. Emails and phone calls to the recruiter went unanswered. I contacted their client directly and they advised me that due to changes in their business that they had decided to defer the appointment until the new financial year. When I thanked them for letting me know, they were quite surprised that myself and the other three candidates that were lined up for the final interview were just left hanging. They understood that this didn’t do much for their own image either. Whilst I can understand that the recruitment business is one of volume and churn, and that they become the focus of people looking for work and as such are a lightning rod for frustrations, ghosting people who have turned up for interviews and met with your clients is just unprofessional.”
  • From a talent manager in Auckland, New Zealand: “I am not sure that anyone has pointed out here that recruiters are not there to serve you and find you a job. They are being paid by the organization who has the role. If you work with recruiters with that in mind it helps you use them as one avenue of career search, which is all they should be, whilst remaining personally responsible for driving your own direction.”

3 questions recruiters should be asking

Of course, there were a LOT more responses to this question on the LinkedIn Premier Career Group, and many more than I shared here, but the discussion raises three good questions for recruiters:

  1. What kind of specific and actionable advice would you have for this job candidate?
  2. What kind of professional responsibility do TA pros have, if any, when dealing with candidates?
  3. Should recruiters be concerned with how candidates feel about the recruiting process and how the candidate experience reflects on their clients?

Recruiting is a numbers game, and it simply isn’t possible (or realistic) to expect TA professionals to be able to satisfy a great many candidates. It may not even be a good idea for them to try.

But, the never-ending stream of stories about the unresponsive recruiter and bad candidates experiences can’t be helping the talent acquisition profession. How should recruiters deal with so many candidates’ complaints about a lack of response from them?

I would love to get some feedback about recruiters here. If I get enough, I’ll put them together in another post so we can hear the other side of the discussion.

John Hollon

John Hollon is managing editor at Fuel50, an AI Opportunity Marketplace solution that delivers internal talent mobility and workforce reskilling. You can download the research reports in their Global Talent Mobility Best Practice Research series at Fuel50.