Diary of A Mad Contract Recruiter

 In Career Tips, Recruitment Strategies (TA)

Diary of A Mad Contract RecruiterIn this wild and wooly job market, the contract recruiter is sometimes caught between a rock and a hard place.

As I’ve mentioned a bazillion times before, I talk to a lot of candidates about their job search experience. Sometimes sad, often entertaining, they share with me their most interesting stories of contact with that most elusive animal, the contract recruiter.

Recently, I spoke with “Tom” who has been actively looking for a new position for nearly a year now. His skills and background are amazing and I have no doubt that he is close to the end of his search. But on the particular night we talked he was really frustrated with a recent encounter he had had with a recruiter.

He was perfect for the job. He had all the necessary qualifications and a current, high-ranking employee internally referred him. At the very least, he expected an interview. Instead what he got was a “not interested.”  Or more accurately, dead silence.

Now Tom, being the assertive sales executive that he is, wasn’t going to let this stand. So he re-contacted the recruiter for an explanation as to the reason for his (apparent) flat turndown. In response, he received from the recruiter the following letter, which Tom has given me permission to reprint in part here:

…However (and here comes the honest, straightforward part)… unlike at a doctor’s office where ‘no news’ is usually good news, with job hunting, ‘no news’… is bad news. It probably means that for some reason, the hiring company is not interested in your resume.

And what we ask you to keep in mind is this:

1) Remember that we *never* reject your resume. Our clients do. We *want* to help you find a new job (after all, that’s how we get paid and plus we love helping people! :), but we can’t control what the hiring companies do. Sometimes, the hiring company doesn’t even bother to tell us why they have rejected your resume. They just say go ‘radio silent’ and only respond when they are interested in moving forward.

2) Many hiring companies ‘flip flop’ on whether a job is open, or not. They sometimes change their minds several times per week! So,  it’s not uncommon for a job to be open one day, and then put ‘on hold’ a few days later, and then suddenly open up again the next month. Ridiculous, isn’t it? We find it as frustrating as you do. We *hate it* when open jobs mysteriously go on hold. But again, that’s just how many hiring companies work. And so often, when you don’t hear back from us, it’s because the job has gone on hold.

3) Many hiring companies ‘flip flop’ on the job description! For example, when a job first opens, the company may insist that candidates have a Masters degree. Two weeks later, they may decide that no degree is necessary. Titles, salary ranges and even location of the position often change several times during the hiring process. And often, they don’t notify us of the ‘new’ job description for days or weeks until after it happens. As a result, you may never hear back about the job you were submitted for because the hiring company may have changed the requirements in a way that make it harder for us to introduce you into the process.

4) Sometimes, hiring companies just go ‘radio silent’. They stop answering our calls and stop responding to our emails. When this happens, we have no choice but to wait for a response. And until we get a response, we can’t give you one.

So what we’re really trying to convey with this note is how much we really want to help you. Helping you is how our business grows. But many of the factors that determine whether or not you get an interview are simply outside of our control. And we ask that you forgive us for any inconvenience you might face during the process. We apologize in advance if none of our Recruiters gets back to you about your resume, and ask that you trust our good intentions to do everything in our power to help you find your dream job.


The contract recruiter’s job is a tough one. Whether working on the inside of a company or not, in the end they must answer to one “master” – their client.  Is it a bit disingenuous for the recruiter to say, “Helping candidates is how their business grows”? Well probably. Was the recruiter conveniently “buck-passing”? You make the call.

In the end, the bottom line is, how can we have recruitment systems in which there is essentially no accountability to the candidate…on anyone’s part?

I suspect each of you has been on one side of this fence or the other at one point in time. What do you think the responsibility level should be on the part of recruiters and hiring managers to job applicants (if any)?


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