I often talk to jobseekers -- friends, family members, folks I meet in the airport -- and they almost always have the same complaint. Recruiters don't call back.
It's true. When I worked for big corporate recruiting departments, there were many meetings and offsites where we talked about the problem. Solutions were hard to come by. Most recruiters really do care. But we're trained to spend time on the activities that yield results. In an environment where there are waaaay more candidates than jobs, the common courtesy of returning a call falls low on the priority list. I drew up this fictional chart to illustrate how a recruiter might spend a 40-hour work week. Often, recruiters are responsible for filling 20, 30 or more positions at once.
It's a big problem. Employers who don't return phone calls know they are damaging their reputation candidate by candidate. Yet, companies can't afford to employ resources to call every candidate. What can you, the jobseeker, do?
- Don't take it personally. It is a universal problem. If a recruiter fails to return your call, don't read too much into it.
- Whenever possible, secure a promise from the hiring manager that he/she will call you with the decision. Hiring managers have far fewer candidates to worry about, so they are more likely to make the call.
- Nobody likes to deliver bad news. If a recruiter or manager is procrastinating, it might be because they fear delivering bad news. Let them know that you look forward to a follow up call -- good news or bad news.
- Don't burn a bridge. Build a relationship. If you don't hear back, send a polite email expressing your disappointment that there wasn't a fit this time. Let them know how impressed you are with the organization, and how thrilled you would be to hear about future opportunities (even though this may not be exactly the case).
Don't get me wrong -- I don't think recruiters should get a blanket pardon. Recruiting organizations fall far short of their responsibility to provide a great candidate experience. I'm just saying give a recruiter a break. They're under a lot of pressure to fill jobs quickly and often are doing their very best.