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What to Do When a Recruiter Disappears

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

There's nothing worse than being ghosted. You get a little attention, feel valued and intrigued then suddenly the person on the other line goes silent. At first, you think they're just busy and might reach out a little later. Then after a week or so you start to realize they may have forgotten about you. A sour, twisted feeling forms in the pit of your stomach, and you feel a little self pity. It's okay - we all experience this. You think, "What did I do?" or "Did I say the wrong thing?" Being ghosted happens to everyone, sometimes romantically or professionally, and it always hurts.


When you experience ghosting by a recruiter, you have to remember its not personal. Talent teams are very often overloaded with candidates and have an incredibly difficult time managing their requisitions. You could be one of 80+ applicants for a open position - and they have several open positions to fill. Yes, you should hold recruiters accountable for their actions, but you should also be considerate and understanding to the situation at hand. As a job seeker, you are sending your resume in to be reviewed. As a job filler, I'm reviewing resumes, working with agencies, interviewing, and still managing my other responsibilities.


Instead of allowing your personal emotions to takeover when you notice a recruiter suddenly disappears, try sending a short, kind follow up email. This should come three to four days after the intended response date. For example, if you were supposed to hear from them on Friday, send the note the following Wednesday. This should be in email form.


Hopefully, this jogs their memory and something just came up that prevented them from reaching out as originally intended. However, sometimes things are hectic and you need to be a little more aggressive. Wait another week, and if you still haven't received a response, send another follow up. In this communication, politely request a response in your closing. Say something like "Thank you for taking the time to address my concern" or "I look forward to your response". You should send this in email form as well, on top of the forwarded first email and reach out via LinkedIn, if possible. I say "if possible" because you should only reach out via social media if you have had prior conversations. If you have not, leave this space alone, otherwise you can come off a little stalker-ish.



If you're now over three weeks and two emails in with no response, I'm afraid you've been ghosted... sorry friend. This is an unfortunate part of the job hunting process and although its irritating, its pretty common. Here's the good news: you may not be ghosted forever. Often times talent teams will reach out several weeks or months down the road to great candidates that fell between the cracks for one reason or another. There are literally dozens of reasons a requisition could go cold - from an internal staffing change (i.e. the recruiter left the company, to leadership deciding the req needed to be put on hold for a few weeks. I once received a call six months after being ghosted because the recruiter went on maternity leave.


The other good news is if you never hear from the company again it is a direct reflection of their business. The people who work for an organization are a direct representation of their values and beliefs. If follow up and kindness are lacking from the very beginning, you could've been walking into a toxic atmosphere, so kudos to you for dodging a bullet! Often times candidates get so wrapped up in impressing the company they forget they deserve to be impressed to. The company needs to meet your standards, from the total compensation package to the team you will be joining. Pay attention to way you are treated during the interview phase, including the friendliness of the recruiters, the transparency of the hiring manager and information you gather during your research.


If you are ghosted after making it through several rounds in a interview phase, hold the staff accountable. Your time is just as valuable as their's and you deserve an explanation. Follow the steps from above, but reach out to the recruiter first, then move up the hierarchy if needed. Do not allow the organization to leave you high and dry after several interview. Politely inquire about your status for the position repeatedly until you get an answer. Someone - either the talent team or the hiring team - until you receive an update as to why the process chilled out.Stay courteous and professional until the question is resolved.


The most important thing to remember about being ghosted is it is not your fault. The choice to ghost (both intentionally and unintentionally) is based on the individual, not on the recipient. Always maintain your composure, and take the high road. You never know what the future holds.


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