I’m a job seeker who has been trying to work with various different recruiters that specialize in my industry. While they don’t work for the company directly, their websites often feature jobs that are a great fit for my experience and skills. Sometimes they even reach out to me on LinkedIn before I even applied!
However, once I apply or do a phone call with them, they go silent. I can’t get them to return my calls or answer my emails. Why are they so rude, especially when they thought I was a great candidate before?
- Frustrated in Denver
First and foremost, you need to understand the nature of these recruitment agencies, also known as headhunters or search firms. As talent brokers, they often act like a fine dining steakhouse, sourcing the best raw ingredients to give an exceptional experience to their clientele. With that in mind, realize these facts when it comes to dealing with a recruiter…
- You are meat.
I know that sounds harsh, but the sooner you understand that you are the meat – the actual product that a recruiter is selling – the less frustrating your relationship with them will be. You are not their client: the employers are. As such, the employers will always be on the top of their contact list, while candidates may not have the same status.
- You might not be on the menu.
Recruiters usually focus on the jobs they are trying to fill right now, even though they will collect resumes and applications for candidates even if they don’t have an immediate opening that fits your skills and experience. If you don’t fit that instant need, you will just be put in the freezer to be stored for later. Of course, anyone in the meat locker usually gets a slower response time.
When a job order is hot and in-demand, recruiters become much more aggressive and consistent about their communication with the candidate. This all relates to the employers’ needs once again. Just because the recruiter pursued you endlessly for one job it doesn’t mean that they will be as diligent with the next job posting.
- You can’t tell if the employer has “food sensitivities.”
One reason why an employer chooses to use a recruiter is that they are seeking something very specific, possibly in terms of culture, experience, skills, industry, or achievements. The recruiter knows far more details about the job than the candidates ever will, including the hidden deal breakers (or “allergies”) that they won’t disclose to the job seeker. Just because the job looks perfect to you on paper it doesn’t mean that you are actually the best match for the job. Rather than disclose this confidential information, the recruiter just goes silent.
- Become “Grade A Free-Range Organic Beef.”
Ultimately, it is your responsibility to follow up with the recruiter. Don’t just wait for them to call you. Once you are registered with an agency, feel free to call and touch base a couple of times a month, especially if you see a job opening that matches your experience.
Recruiters are often inundated with candidates, especially if they are small, boutique firm that offers employers a personalized experience. This means that they have less staff members to manage candidates than they do for managing client relationships. By becoming responsive on your own communications, including providing any extra information as soon as they need it, it elevates your status as a candidate.
- Don’t develop “mad cow disease.”
Just because you want to stay in touch, don’t go completely overboard and turn into a pest that borders on harassment. Don’t call, text, or email every day if they aren’t reaching out to you first. Believe me, they are getting your messages and noting your files, even if they aren’t calling you back right away. Remember, they are dealing with today’s specials and you may not be on the menu. Overloading a recruitment firm can quickly turn into a black mark. Be sure to track your own progress with them, such as the jobs you applied to, who you spoke with, and when. Nothing annoys a recruiter more than a candidate that applies to every single job they posted without showing any forethought or customization to fit the specific job.
- Some agencies use wranglers.
Fortunately, some recruiters do believe in building ongoing relationships with their candidates. They may even have dedicated staff members that are devoted to staying in touch with their stable of talent. Over the years, I have seen some recruiters repeated place their top candidates in different jobs. If you are lucky enough to fall in with a recruiter that values their talent as much as the employers, keep up your communication to stay top-of-mind for the next job.
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