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There are some terrible recruiters out there.  Which isn’t stating a whole lot because there are also awful CEOS, incompetent sales managers, and unfriendly workers at the DMV.  I think the area where recruiters take the biggest rap is in their communication with candidates.  It’s almost as if the term “ghosting” has become synonymous with recruiting.  This is frightening.

Let’s do a quick review of Good vs Bad recruiter as it relates to communication.  Typically the good recruiter, we will call him Casper, consistently does the following: provides regular updates on status and next steps, is honest with the interviewer feedback, and can provide guidance on how one stacks up against other candidates.

The not-so-good recruiter, we will call him the Spectral Wraith of Desolate Hollows, Harbinger of Eternal Nightmares, is consistent in not doing any of the above.  If you are dealing with Casper, a candidate’s mind tends to be relatively settled.  When dealing with the Spectral Wraith of Desolate Hollows, Harbinger of Eternal Nightmares, a candidate’s mind can start playing tricks and the individual is confused on what to do next.  This is what bad ghosting does to us.

But let’s be fair here and dissect some of the reasons why a recruiter may not get back to the candidate as the situation is not always black and translucent white.

Recruiter lacks informationWith best intentions and effort, sometimes the recruiter just can not get the feedback from the hiring executive or team on the current disposition for candidates.  Recruiters are constantly chasing for information and oftentimes are ghosted by their internal teams.  The reason internal teams ghost is due to being overwhelmed by current deliverables or anything that disrupts their normal workflow.  As you see, there can be a bit of a family tree to ghosting.

The process is just that slow –  This is a major factor that causes delays in communication.  The company may have an abundance of candidates, they may have issues prioritizing those candidates, they may have too many internal review steps, and/or they may struggle with making decisions.  Layer on top of that the scheduling challenges associated with arranging phone screens and interviews, and very quickly one can see how long a process can take.  Candidates are uncomfortable hearing these factors as they believe that they should be good enough for a company to stop the presses and accelerate their candidacy.  Oftentimes a company just needs to go through their process to ensure that they are making the right decision.

 Another candidate may be emerging as a frontrunnerthis tends to be the default belief for candidates.  Sometimes it is true that another gets prioritized and accelerated in the recruiting process but oftentimes is not the case in my experience.  One of the hardest things I need to communicate to a candidate is that the client is still interested but that another candidate may be better aligned for the role.  In such a case, people may immediately go to “well I don’t want to be the Plan B candidate” so I’m pulling out of the process.  Some recruiters do not have the time or perspective to work through those issues with candidates.  Hence, it may be best just to let things play out with the preferred candidate before sharing anything.

There may be other factors that impact a recruiters lack of communication such as changes to the job description, an upcoming company reorganization, or an internal candidate expressing an interest in the role.   The key take-away is to acknowledge that ghosts exist – why they exist oftentimes eludes us.

There is one important point in all of this – don’t lose your control of the situation.  While it’s important to understand why certain recruiters don’t communicate effectively with candidates, that does not mean that you need to accept it.  My two pieces of advice to address the ghosting; 1) contact the recruiter or hire manager directly if you are not getting an update.  If they do not reply, send them another note a few days later.  Give them each the benefit of the doubt (may be busy, on vacation, etc) but do your part to prompt them.  2) continue to apply and interview with other companies.  It’s a great situation for you to have choices instead of hanging all of your hopes on that one role.  If you have other offers, it’s interesting how quickly the once silent recruiter becomes highly communicative.

Hire Thought…If you engage with a company on an opportunity, both sides deserve a high degree of communication and respect in the process.  On your end, if you are not interested in proceeding with a recruiting process, please be honest and direct with the employer.  If a company has gone silent on you, provide them a few prompts to provide you with an update. And keep your options open.  Ultimately control what you can control – which can be anywhere from staying interested in a role or opting out of the process to pursue different companies and roles.  Ghosts become a lot less scary when you don’t let them control you.

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