Two readers frustrated about ghosting by recruiters and employers learn how to apply two tests, in the October 13, 2020 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter.

Question #1

ghostingTwice in the last month or so I’ve gotten LinkedIn mail from recruiters who were really excited about my background and wanted to talk to me about a position that would be right up my alley. I’d reply offering a date and time to talk. Both times I was ghosted. LinkedIn’s utility for job search continues to take a nosedive. “There oughta be a law!” How can I judge what’s real and what’s spam?

Nick’s Reply

We all know recruiters will waste your time. The hard lesson is that you can do something about it.

Job seekers get too excited when a recruiter comes knocking. They so want an “opportunity” that they fail to judge the recruiter and the solicitation. You can save loads of time and heartbreak with a quick, simple test.

To test a recruiter’s credibility, force their hand early.

The phone-call test

When a “recruiter” solicits you effusively, gauge their enthusiasm with a phone-call test. Invite them to talk on the phone. Ask for their number. (Don’t give yours.) 95% will ghost you simply because they’re part of a boiler-room operation and they have no idea whether you’re a match for the job. If they fail this phone-call test, forget them. On to the next!

For anyone that thinks this could cost you an opportunity, let me show you why it won’t.

To a real recruiter or headhunter, you’re worth a fee of 15-25% of your starting salary if they can place you. So, if you’re hired for $60,000, the recruiter stands to make up to $15,000 in fees. That’s a lot of money. If the headhunter is “really excited” because you’re really a good candidate for the job they’re working on, they’d never risk losing $15,000 by not talking to you!

Hard ghosting lesson #1

95% of “recruiters” and the “opportunities” they hawk aren’t worth spit. Learn the hard lesson: It behooves you to use the phone-call test on each one that comes along.

Question #2

Two weeks ago, I did five interviews in two days. One of the interviews was dropped on my calendar at the last minute (same day), but I cooperated. I felt the interviews went well. I sent thank you notes to everyone. I did not hear anything back that week. I followed up the following week, heard nothing. Followed up last week, still nothing. They’ve gone completely ghost. Is there any good way to deal with this?

Nick’s Reply

We all know employers and HR insist that job seekers jump through hoops. After you’ve performed for them, they ghost you. The hard lesson is that you can push back early in the hiring process.

While you complain you’re getting no updates or replies, the conventional wisdom is that you must “chill and wait” because “these things take time.”

Sure they do! And the managers and HR are all very busy. Professional courtesy is not optional. They have an obligation to respond to you while you’re waiting because you’ve already extended the courtesy of your time to them.

What can you do about a corporate habit of disregard? You must set standards, let employers know what they are, then expect them to perform just as they expect you to.

The protocol test

Whenever you think it’s appropriate during an interview, test their hiring protocols. Ask what their feedback practices are, and who is responsible for keeping you apprised. Expect specific answers.

  • “When will you follow up with me?” (Date, time)
  • “If I inquire after a week or two, who will respond to me?” (Name, title)

There is nothing unreasonable about these questions. You have invested time at their request. Let them know you expect the same. If they don’t answer candidly, expect ghosting is the policy and be brutally honest with yourself — don’t expect much from this company. On to the next!

(Imagine you get the job and, after you’re assigned a project, you ghost your boss and ignore requests for project updates. Is there really any difference? It’s all about responsibility and integrity.)

Test recruiters, test employers. Then adjust your willingness to engage based on how they perform. Recruiters and employers who do what they say they’re going to do demonstrate integrity and responsibility. They will be few. They are worth your time.

Hard ghosting lesson #2

The hard lesson about ghosting is that you’ll have time to engage with the best only if you know how to test and avoid the rest.

Let’s make a list. What hard lessons have you learned? What standards do you actually apply when dealing with recruiters and employers? What are your inviolable rules?

: :

  1. Hard lesson #3: You probably didn’t impress that potential employer. Next time, prepare very specific questions – make sure they are intelligent questions.

    • Who says so? You were there?

      There’s too much unknown about the dynamics of both ‘sides’ and what was said between them to know definitively ‘what went wrong?’.

      Could have been about a competing candidate who was simply a better choice.

      There’s a near equal equation between the effectiveness and lack of of a candidate in an interview/on the job and all the attributes and defects that could exist with the employer, so, working in the dark gets us no closer to the etiology of the problem.



      • I have been on both sides.

        • Well, good for you. That doesn’t mean you actually know ‘what went wrong’ or what was wrong even before the interaction began between the two sides.

          Since you have that much experience, you would know there are a myriad of possibilities as to why a connection didn’t complete. Taking a shot at the applicant/candidate without knowing a thing about either is just shooting in the dark.

          It could have been anything from a wart on the applicant’s nose to a behind-the-scenes relative of a senior executive who was intended for the same job…pending obligatory interviews from external sources.

          You just don’t know until you know. And even then…..LOL.

      • That is the foundational problem with job hunting, no context or feedback. No idea what you are working against, the nature of the competition, hidden biases and unwritten criteria. Even if you could get feedback, how reliable is it? Not to mention the asymmetrical information aspect. Small wonder job hunting is so bewildering and dispiriting.

        • @Stevie: Bingo. That’s why I keep saying the employment system is broken. Except for superficial changes that make $$ for third parties (job boards, ATS vendors, HR outsourcers, etc.) nothing has really changed in the process. Long overdue.

        • “…no context or feedback. No idea what you are working against, the nature of the competition, hidden biases and unwritten criteria.”

          That’s a large part of why having a headhunter walk one through the interview process is so advantageous. One is fully informed and fully prepared and relevant suggestions are offered to insure the best chance for success.

          Mostly we hear about the dunce recruiters who blunder their way through the process and FUBAR it for everyone.

          It’s back to that ‘low barrier to entry’ into our business…

      • Paul Forel,
        Good answer, as you tend to give. He wasn’t there for sure.
        I’ve found that asking intelligent questions, like he submits, to most employers today results in ticking them off, and your quick disqualification. It’s often “can you fog a mirror, do you have a pulse, and do you give me the tingles”? It’s not skill sets, work ethic, good character, or asking well thought out questions.
        You’ve been in the trenches awhile, like me. Is it really worth poop testing these low-shelf shylocks? Is the juice even worth the squeeze? While I’ve had limited experience with recruiters, they always talked a load of crap, and add the infantile practice of ghosting, well, let’s just say, I had better luck finding something on my own.

        • Hey, Antonio……thanks for your kind comments.

          “Is it really worth poop testing these low-shelf shylocks?” “Is the juice even worth the squeeze?”

          Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

          The bummer is that as I said earlier here, it is easily possible for a beginner/dunce ‘recruiter’ to be given a [usually contingency] search assignment that as a job/career opportunity, could be offering great advantages/benefits for the right person.

          So under that poop could be a viable job. If one is in a position where they could benefit from a job/career change, then answer the phone.

          You can always hang up.


          The best policy is to be self-motivated, don’t wait for a ‘recruiter’ to call if you already know you want to bump up. Find a search consultant who specializes in your industry, network and do your research and subsequent reach-outs to target persons of influence and viable employers/companies for whom you would consider working.

          Don’t wait for some loon to call about a ‘fantastic’ opportunity.

    • Kevin – if someone impresses the company enough for an interview, the company can at least have the courtesy of letting the candidate know that they selected another person. Or that they are not moving forward with the position. Or even, that they don’t have one of the key skills the position requires. I will concede one point – if an employer ghosts you after an interview, you can safely assume that either you did not have SOMETHING that they are looking for or another candidate was a better fit. And you can also rest a bit easier knowing that any manager who is too much of a coward to deliver bad news is too much of a coward to lead people when it really matters.

      • I agree completely. As a hiring manager, I always reach out to everyone I interviewed to let them know a final status, as a minimum courtesy.

        We may not go into specifics on why another candidate was chosen, depending on whatever the reason is, but the point is to be courteous and respectful.

      • No Brian, ghosting is rarely as simple as you think. And in recruiting scenarios it’s more likely than not, coming from a recruiter (internal and external), rather than a hiring manager.

        There is a lot more going on when a recruiter ghosts you than mere cowardice. In every instance where I was ghosted, and then spoke with the recruiter who foolishly thought they’d never have to speak with me again (recruiters note, never dodge phone calls from an enterprise voice architect; if you have or are near a phone, we’ll find you), the recruiters were extremely uncomfortable hearing my voice again, and were struggling to find words for a quick answer. We all know simple polite answers that could work, i.e. “client didn’t think you were good fit,” “client hasn’t gotten back to me yet,” etc. 30 seconds and we’re done, painless. But I never heard any of those in a ghosting scenario.

        A while back, one body shop recruiter interviewed me for a position at a large financial institution in NYC. I had everything the job spec called for, didn’t expect any problems. Recruiter dodged me for a month. When I finally got him on the phone, he was very unprepared and struggled to tell me that the employer decided to cancel the project. That was the WRONG answer. I explained how I had been frequently speaking with a manager at the vendor providing most of the equipment for that project, that the project was very much alive, and that their customer (both the recruiter’s and the vendor’s) hadn’t yet hired a PM to run it. Recruiter did an audio rendition of a “homina, homina, homina” routine, and at least I spoiled his morning.

        I attended a networking event in NJ where a popular employment consultant and author was making an appearance. She had been a former full-time independent and internal recruiter at different times and places. She had some interesting things to say that were relevant for our group (about 100 of mostly finance IT geeks), but I apparently inadvertently tossed a monkey-wrench into the works when I asked her, in front of the entire group, why most recruiters are ghosting us so frequently. She was visibly upset that I dared to ask that question (one of the first during her appearance), and she stumbled through a rambling description of frequently being too busy to schedule follow-ups, and a very brief suggestion that giving job candidates bad news can be difficult. Then she wouldn’t talk to me. Ever. Even though I bought her books. Her later conference calls that invited employment search questions and discussion, were more focused on questions like, “how many children and pet pictures should I have on my Facebook page with my resume,” and “how soon after an interview should I send a recruiter a “friend” request.” Few of them were focused on anything that comes close to ANY issues discussed in THIS forum (and that’s not a joke). She continued to ignore my questions, so all her continuing spam email invitations get deleted now.

        More recently, another potential Mensa Foundation Award candidate, “award-winning,” recruiter at a large telecom equipment manufacturer had interviewed me a second time for a unique project manager position, for a large government agency customer on the northeast coast. She then emailed me to call her to discuss the position again. After a few weeks of her dodging my calls, I surprised her with a direct phone call. She was caught off guard, and was also uncomfortable speaking with me. After a few minutes of meaningless chatter about issues on which I was previously interviewed, she then said that the hiring manager had not yet reviewed my resume (after 5 months?), but would get back to me next week. Same thing I heard at the end of the two previous interviews. Next weeks, and months went by and no one in HR had working voice mail, email was a waste of time. Obviously a simple “project is on hold,” or similar non-insulting response would be best (rather than making believe she was interviewing me a THIRD time), but I guess her SPHR certification means she’s FORMALLY certified to be inconsiderate, immature, and nasty (rather than INformally). Months later I interviewed several more times with a contractor who was answering RFPs issued directly by that large NE coast government after they were fed up that their selected vendor (guess who) had mismanaged it badly and were hopelessly behind schedule. Then, THAT contractor ghosted me, too.

        So, I hope you can see why I believe that recruiter ghosting has a much more disturbing basis, and that no jobseekers should ever blame themselves for doing anything wrong, missing anything in their presentation, or for looking like a recruiter’s least-favorite relative, when that happens.

        • Bravo.

        • It’s not hard to judge a recruiter. Once they have reached out to you, if then they avoid talking with you, there’s no good reason to try to talk with them. Move on. Thanks for illustrating this with a few good stories.

        • @Steve,

          LOL……. you put a smile on me this morning as I’m on the same page w/ you to how you should address these worthless recruiters. “the only necessary thing for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”

  2. I agree recruiters- who don’t follow up should thereafter be ignored. Don’t ever chase such a person.

    That “95%” [of ‘recruiters’] to which you refer are mostly nothing but FUBAR’s on wheels.



  3. Nick,

    You’ve made some good suggestions. However, you’re assuming that the recruiters would be intelligent and considerate human beings. I’ve rarely found this to be the case.

    Do the phone-call and protocol tests. But, don’t get excited about anything, especially with a cold contact, and always expect you’ll never hear from them again. That way you can be pleasantly surprised if you DO hear from them again.

    In my case, the recruiter(s) presumably had a lot more than $60k to lose, so they probably never had a client, let alone a job to fill.

    And to be clear, these were relatively simple inconsiderate rejections. Recommend not investing emotional energy and just let them go.

    • I agree with the tests mentioned here. I’d like to add another test I’ve used.

      I ask them how long they’ve worked with the client whose job they’re hoping I’ll fit into. That filters out a significant bit, and often because I’ve been contacted several times by different recruiters trying to fill the same job (same job descriptions to the letter). You know those folks are fly-by-night/dialing for $.

      • @Bob: You can quickly assess whether they have a real relationship with the employer. If they don’t, you’re merely a lottery ticket to them.

  4. If a job description is provided in the email, I always run key phrases from it through a web search. If it turns up a job ad, I’m pretty sure the recruiter is just a resume mill that’s dialing for dollars. I take a pass.

    • I’ve long done the same thing, and at least 90% of the time a so-called recruiter scraped an employment ad, trying to insert themselves into the process with zero value added. One tends to learn the characteristics of the local job market, so spotting bogus ads is usually not too hard.

    • Few recruiters are actually working with the employer. The ones that are, are pretty obvious. And rare.

  5. It seems hard to believe that a candidate who made it through to the interview phase was not impressive enough to at least get a bot-generated email that says, “We’ve decided to move on with another candidate.”

    I’ve been reading AtH for more than 10 years(!), and the basic lessons still hold true: If you treat yourself like someone who has to beg for a job, you will often run into disappointment. If, instead, you learn why you are a value to your next employer, research the employers for whom you _will_ be a value, and demonstrate to them why they would lose money if they didn’t hire you ASAP, you will be in the driver’s seat and realize that _they_ are the one’s missing out if they ghost you, or engage in any other of the bad behaviors people have been taught to expect from the regular job hunting process in the USA (and other places, judging from some of the comments over the years).

    Whenever I bring this up, there are always people who “whatabout?!?”
    My response is this: In every kind of job, from fast food worker to graveyard-shift Kwiki Mart cashier, there are people who are “Crushing It” – there are people who devote their work time to becoming the best at what they do and getting the best from their company. You can apply all of the AtH techniques to every single job out there because every business, no matter how mundane you believe it is, is designed to make a profit. If you can show the boss how she can make more profit, they will either hire you, or let you go to their competitor. In tough economic times, there’s even more need for people who can show business owners and managers how they can bring in more cash.

    I just don’t understand people who focus on the negative. I have my own self-pity parties, and feel existential dread about the rise of fascism and the destruction of the environment, but I turn my attention to what I can DO to at least make my part of the world better for me, my family and those who want my help. I try not to waste too much mental energy on people who don’t want my help. I just treat them like a zombie horde – not something I can reason with, but something I need to work around.

    My son pointed out something just yesterday: Every single one of us is the descendant of people who figured out a way to survive. They survived the Fall of Rome, or the Black Plague, or the Mongol Invasion, or colonialism, or other empires, totalitarian regimes or natural disasters. And here WE are. So we owe it to our ancestors, who managed to make it long enough to at least get some kids going into the world, to take what they gave us and make it better.

    • Begging for a job? I don’t know what Silicone Valley computer jockey or bean counter job you do, or where you live. Employers have the upper hand. Yeah, many of us have to beg for a job. I’ve done it most of my working life, so have many others. I had to beg for my current job of 8 years tenure now. Prior to that, I had to beg for my job of 1 year tenure that I happily left. Being an older worker, I groveled, and I gave/have given a good faith effort. Little to no negotiations when they have you by the short hairs. Just how it is. Either place, I wouldn’t waste the call for an air strike on them. But, I’m just grateful to have both a full-time, and a part-time job now. As the saying goes “in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king”.

    • @Michael: Excellent synopsis of what we discuss here. Value. The individual that recognizes their own and is able to demonstrate it to an employer that needs it stands out. If the employer doesn’t get it, then the next rule applies: Never work with jerks. Move on.

      All the third party services that pretend to “help job seekers and employers” have programmed people to wait for someone else to get them a job. And as we all know, those services produce little more than random outcomes.

      Go around the zombies!

  6. I had someone who ghosted me apply for a job with my team. I asked the candidate if he remembered me and he turned bright red.

    • Ha! I ended up working with a recruiter who ghosted me, after I turned myself into a recruiter. But he didn’t turn beet red. He wasn’t wired that way.

      But I got some satisfaction from reminding him.

    • Did you hire him?? I wouldn’t have. Ghosting shows low value and low character.

    • @Jonathan: Small world, eh? ;-)

  7. Many times you can spot a bogus recruiter from their email address itself.
    If you see an email sender such as Suzy B. or Mike Smith and no @ a certain company, chances are it’s an AI bot or insincere correspondence.

  8. I’ve seen this ghosting stuff happen at a former job. It’s not the candidate, it’s the hiring manager or organization. Later on, I was working at another firm and a coworker told me about being asked to jump through hoops at my old firm. They wanted her to do a third interview because they couldn’t make up their minds. She took a pass and went to work somewhere else.This person was a terrific employee so my old firm really lost out. I always wondered why that company hired such bad employees and now I know. Sometimes we just gotta let go and not assume an interview means we will get an offer or want an offer.

    • @Dotty: It’s an old sales person’s rule. If you really, really, really want that one special red roadster on the car lot, you’re going to blow the negotiation. You must be ready to walk away if the deal’s not right, no matter how much you “know it’s the perfect job” for you. Know what terms you want and what terms are are negotiable. Sometimes you just gotta tell yourself the truth and let go.

  9. They call, speak fast and are “very impressed by your achievements”. But cannot explain exactly what is so impressing…

    I always demand a written confirmation that they are on assignment for a given company, and the name.
    They must clearly explain why they are seeking you for this role. Often, they cannot, because they call everyone with some keywords in their profile (I presume).

    • @Karsten: Yes, yes, yes and yes. Once a job seeker realizes the truth of what you say, life changes. You waste much less time, get less frustrated and have more control.

  10. An exchange I once had:

    Recruiter, message on LinkedIn:
    “Dear Karsten,

    I hope that you are well.

    I wanted to get in touch with you to see if you might be interested in a Senior Geoscientist role with Oil Company X?

    The key part of the role would involve managing the seismic database, risking prospects, mapping and basin modelling.

    This would be a permanent position focusing on North Sea assets and Oil Company X would be offering a very competitive remuneration.

    I am enclosing available job description and would be very happy to have an exploratory chat with you should this be of interest.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards,

    My reply:
    “Hi Recruiter,

    I am aware of this job opening. It has been publicly advertised: (Link to the ad on, the main Norwegian job site) As far as I can see, your job description is simply scraped off

    I have contacts there, so if I wanted to apply, I would do so directly. Sorry, but you or another recruiter would in this case be a completely redundant middle man.

    Furthermore, I know that Oil Company X is a bureaucratic nightmare, so I would not want to work there.


    Recruiter’s reply:

    “Hi Karsten,

    Thank you for the reply.

    Your reply back to me is at best very ignorant and at worst quite rude. I wonder if you ever worked internationally and truly understand what myself and my colleagues do.

    In any case have a good rest of the day.


    My reply:

    While I have not worked internationally, I have 11 years of experience from the oil industry. I have frequently been contacted by (mostly British) recruiters, who pretend to work on behalf of oil companies, but who really just want to throw in a CV and hope it sticks. In one case, recruiters from at least four different recruitment agencies contacted me for the same position, in a case where I know that the company had not hired any recruiters.

    This experience is not unique to me. Keep in mind that the Norwegian oil industry is a fairly well connected community, so words get around. So, no, I am not ignorant of how recruiters work, I talk from experience.

    I have also at occasions been contacted for positions that were not advertised publicly, or where the recruiter worked in parallel with a public advertisement, but in all these cases, the recruiters provided documentation that they were on assignment for the company.

    If you actually are on assignment for Oil Company X, I apologize for my first reaction, but you know the story of the boy who cried wolf….?

    I also know that there are some recruiters who work to convince passive candidates to apply for positions, which they would otherwise not have considered. After all, you cannot read my mind and know what I want to apply for or not. Again, if this was your intent, apologies for my fist reaction, but unfortunately it was shaped by my experience with recruiters in general.


    Never got any reply.

    • @Karsten: “Myself and my colleagues” will never talk to you again. So there.

      • To be fair, English was probably not his first language….

    • Karsten, you would not likely get that kind of satisfaction here in the US. Here, the dirtbags won’t give you the satisfaction of answering any of your emails. All they want are the rewards, have no intention of doing the work to earn them.

      Wait a minute, there is a large group of people here that do that all the time. Who am I thinking of??? ;)

      • Steve, (same Steve as below?)

        I see there is a misunderstanding-

        Credible headhunters don’t keep the company name from targeted recruits indefinitely.

        We’re mostly talking about first calls.

        And also, to give you and whomever reads this greater perspective, when I call a target recruit, I am prepared to hear that my client’s opportunity may not be right but s/he has something else in mind that could fit one of my other search assignments.

        So going in on a first call and being only focused on the search at hand is foolish and if I conduct the conversation that way, I could get a closed door in my face (because it will sound like an ‘all or nothing’ call when if instead, I had kept my options open, I and the recruit can benefit from having a general conversation the first time around and if we are in synch, then I can open up the conversation to the reason I called.

        Nicely said, unless you all are in our business, you cannot possibly know all the possible angles to what we do.


        • (I’m “Steve,” not “Stevie” here)

          Paul, understood. I was also referring to first calls. But I rarely get calls or emails from head hunters, mostly recruiters.

          The recruiters/brokers are not always agreeable to revealing who they’re “working for,” since often they’re not working for anyone. That’s where we usually part company quickly.

          But if that’s a legitimate head hunter, I’ll even do an NDA depending on the opportunity. I’ve also done them for proposals where we get a lead for something that needs special treatment. Then I or we can make an intelligent decision on whether to proceed or back away.

          • My elephant vs blind men analogy was for Darron.

  11. My ghosting experiences usually result from my response to the first contact, whereupon I challenge the recruiter:

    1) “You are uniquely qualified for this position as your skillsets are an exact match for [field I have no experience in and have never worked in]” and I respond with “Please return email with the exact skills that you indicate I have the most experience in.” – GHOSTED

    2) “A colleague recommended you as an excellent fit for this position” – “Please forward the name and contact information of this colleague so I can thank them / discuss the opportunity with a peer.” – GHOSTED

    3) “A great company is hiring for a [my current title] and you would be an excellent candidate – please send your CV so we can start the process” – “Please send me a job description, a salary range and the location city of the company” – GHOSTED

    LinkedIn is a scourge on the planet as it enables the ability of these whores to scrape your information EVEN IF YOU EXPRESSLY TURN OFF RECRUITER CONTACTS and email blast everyone the scraper returns. It is an absolute travesty.

    As a final story I had a recruiter recently send me the same song and dance as #1 above for a field I have NEVER had any experience in. I actually wrote him back with a “You DO know that “apples” are completely different from “oranges” right?” He responded with “Someone gave you an endorsement for apples so I figures you’d have the skillsets”. I replied “So, some schmuck jonesing me for a return endorsement gives me one for an unrelated skill, with all the reliability of a Facebook “like” and THAT is what you rely as a professional criterion to screen a candidate, despite all hard evidence to the contrary that a cursory review of my profile would make clear?

    Yep, you guessed it – GHOSTED.

  12. Clearly I’ve been fortunate with few experiences with ghosting. Recently, though, I was definitely ghosted. So here’s the scenario:

    Company A contacted me to interview with the CIO. We scheduled a date and time. Then, just prior to the time for the interview, Mr. Big CIO was called “out of town” for an emergency. So the interview was re-scheduled.

    I called into the Zoom meeting waited 20 minutes and no one showed up. I immediately reached out to the scheduler to let the scheduled know I showed up but Mr. Big CIO did not. Never received a reply.

  13. I’ve been an IT recruiter for 24 years and I always advise my family members and friends to ask only one question of the recruiter: “how many candidates have you personally with this client/company/manager?” That should help level the playing field if you are an independent candidate who is looking for fair treatment…remember, ‘personally placed’ NOT ‘your company has placed’ or ‘your boss has placed’ etc…true headhunters DO NOT WASTE TIME and usually are dealing directly with the hiring manager (HR is just copied on candidate presentations). best of luck to all!

    • “…how many candidates have you personally [gotten hired] with this client/company/manager?”

      That doesn’t prove anything. Search firms/agencies are regularly recruiting for companies on a first time basis. That doesn’t make them less competent.

      Even a spazz, new recruiter gets viable job orders…meaning viable job/viable company.

      Unfortunately, there is no ‘one way’ of screening bad from good recruiters.

      Demand a copy of the job description? Sounds good but many of us won’t do that, for perfectly good reasons. (There are exceptions.)

      Demand to know who the hiring company is? Nope, not gonna do that, also for perfectly good reasons. (There are exceptions.)

      I would tend to think that anyone who calls, telling me they have a ‘perfect’ job or that I am a ‘perfect’ match would be suspect except that even though they are swinging wild [a beginner recruiter or permanently spazzy], they may indeed be representing a great company with a great opportunity.

      There is no ‘one question’ that determines the capacity of a ‘recruiter’ to produce results.

      • “Demand a copy of the job description? Sounds good but many of us won’t do that, for perfectly good reasons. (There are exceptions.)”

        No, there really isn’t. Job description is #1 priority. If you don’t have one or won’t provide it, that means there’s no position and you’re phishing for a resume. Or it’ll tie to #3 below.

        “Demand to know who the hiring company is? Nope, not gonna do that, also for perfectly good reasons. (There are exceptions.)”

        Still no reason there. If you’re worried about someone trying to cut you out, there’s 3 outcomes:
        1) You have exclusivity with the client (and a signed contract stating as such). Result: someone *cannot* go around you.
        2) You have a direct line with the hiring manager. Result: working with you would be a benefit, so why trash that?
        3) You’re scraping job descriptions from a public ATS and sending them out. Result: using you is a waste of time and will only hurt a candidate’s options, and you’re jealously trying to justify an existence.

        • Well, Darron, it sounds like you’ve gotten our business (Executive Search) all figured out.


          You can watch an astronaut get into a space ship but you don’t know j about what makes for a successful space trip.

          Same as our business as well as many others. Being on the other end of the table does not make you an expert on the ins and outs of our business.

          Yes, there is a perfectly good reason why I may choose not to send my recruits a job specification and in fact, in over 39+ years, it has rarely been necessary since I cover the high points in my conversation.

          Anyone who has read a job description will agree that in many ways, ‘they all look alike’ for any given job. So why do you need a job description when I am presenting the best parts of the job in conversation and they don’t cover the day to day that is described in most JD’s?

          Simply, the bigger picture is the draw, not the job description.

          It is the behind the scenes stuff that is of most importance. Have you ever seen the details of your next boss’s thinking in a job description? Have you seen the details of a corporate move that will significantly decide who is a best choice hire in a job description?

          No, all you get is a lot of vague mumbo jumbo about ‘how the company is growing!!!’ and you NEED TO GET ON BOARD.

          And so on.

          I recruit Director and VP level executives. They don’t require a job description to know ‘if they are qualified’. What they do want is an idea of where the company is headed (data that will never be found in a job description) and what the style and direction of their boss is, again, information never found in a job description.

          Beginner recruiters need a job description to wave at you because they otherwise have no credibility, especially if they are stuttering their way through a phone call. They are going to ‘let the JD do the talking’ but we all know the JD does NOT do all the talking and doesn’t adequately cover the inner workings of what a new career opportunity is going to be all about.

          Like I said, most of you here at this forum DO NOT NEED A JOB DESCRIPTION. You need what goes beyond the job description.

          Since you are into bells and whistles, remind me if I ever call you to first send you a company T shirt to get the conversation going.


          • In other words, “I know this industry and you don’t”. And then provide absolutely no information refuting what I said other than some vagaries about job descriptions when in fact those outline a lot of key skills needed, of which I’ve seen the multiples of the same title in my 10+ years require very different things due to the nature of the company. I’ve also seen multiple titles require the same thing because everyone calls it something different.

            You’re also trying to say that the positives about the job and employer are more important than knowing what the job description is. I’ve seen that — it’s because the recruiter is compensating for a company with a terrible history or in a terrible industry.

            And no mention of my remarks about the employer too.

            Looks like I hit a nerve and I’m right on the mark about it.

            • Darron and Paul, you’re both partially right.

              And both partially wrong.

              “Demand a copy of the job description?” Darron, you must be joking. Demand ANYTHING from anyone without having a formal business arrangement and you’ll end up in a black hole.

              “If you don’t have one (job description) or won’t provide it, that means there’s no position and you’re phishing for a resume.” Darron, dead wrong. I’ve been hired for jobs with no job spec more than once. Don’t always need one, and sometimes there isn’t one at the time of our discussion with the employer. In fact, I just interviewed for a position a few days ago that had no formal job description (yet). Employer had not yet advertised, and was first looking to see if there was anyone left in my line of work who could do what they had in mind. Turns out they did, since the job was advertised two days later, and was mostly consistent with what we discussed.

              And, Darron, you missed one scenario. One where a dirtbag gets enough of your personal and professional info and creates a “confidential” job description that looks very familiar, because it really is you. I nailed one phony recruiter who tried that with me I tracked him, and his inactive companies and abandoned web sites, and found he is a deadbeat both in the US and the UK.

              “Demand to know who the hiring company is?” Darron, see above what happens when you demand anything from someone who owes you nothing.

              Paul, while most of us can understand why a recruiter or head hunter would need to keep that information secret, at some point I would need to have a good idea who they are. I have NDA’s and Protective Orders that I can’t ignore, so we would have to have some kind of discussion to not violate them. Similarly, there are some employers for whom I cannot or will not work. We live in a complicated world, and the longer we work and advance our careers, the more potentials for disaster…or success. If I couldn’t get sufficient assurance that I would not be placing myself in jeopardy, we would have to part company.

              “…in fact those (job descriptions) outline a lot of key skills needed, of which I’ve seen the multiples of the same title in my 10+ years…” Darron, irrelevant. Just because you can check off all the items in the job description, it doesn’t mean that you can automatically get that job, or be qualified to work it if you were hired.

              If you know the company, and the name of the job title, you’re half way there. I can find out more about a recruiter, the company, and what the employer wants and expects in one discussion with the employer than I’ll find in the job description. I can also get immediate feedback if I’m not on target.

              And don’t forget, sometimes that job description can actually be a meaningless smoke screen. More than once, I applied for jobs (most of them government management positions) where, as you proceed through the hiring process, you discover that the position was really wired for someone else with specific skills never mentioned in the “formal” job description.

              “What they (Director and VP level executives) do want is an idea of where the company is headed…” Paul, I agree. But at some point I would need to see who is guiding the company in that direction. Depending on the company, I might know more than you about certain individuals who might be getting positive media coverage as visionary leaders, when in fact they are really company killers.

              And one more note about job descriptions, I have been seeing an alarming number of advertised positions in my field that are very detailed, and an easy to fit. But the companies didn’t really exist. Another was VAR expanding into the NJ area, job description combined three distinct full-time titles, yet they only wanted to pay half the going rate for only ONE of those titles. Their internal recruiter was complaining that EVERYONE was asking way more than what they had budgeted. Another was a consultancy advertising a well-defined manager role, but didn’t mention that the business was scaled way back. So much for “critical” job descriptions.

            • No, the basic problem here in this conversation with you is that you are one of those blind men, checking out an elephant.

              The elephant tamer knows more than you, the elephant knows more than you and you only know what your experience has told you.

              All the other possibilities of what goes on with and about that elephant are unknown to you.

              So this requires one post after another, schooling you a little as we go while you continue to hold onto what feels right for you.

              I’m stepping out, feel free to continue, you clearly only want to know that which supports your lack of total understanding of the business I’m in.

              You haven’t asked one question- clearly you are happy with what you think you know and frankly if that works for you, then there is nothing else pending.


            • Paul, I hope that missile wasn’t launched at me. Please don’t waste any more brain cycles on Mr. Darron. That metaphor went right over his head. His Twitter and other web sites pretty much confirm your conclusion, and he wrote them himself.

              Earlier, I posted a clue to what might be the underlying problem with recruiter/employment brokers’ routine ghosting (with the former recruiter who was caught off guard before a large audience). But I got an earful a year or two later from one recruiter who nailed it nicely, without knowing it.

              As the pandemic was settling in, one recruiter for a body shop was working on a pitch for a project manager contract position for me in the NYC metro area. This was a difficult employer, but we were making some progress. After a few weeks, as the clock was ticking, and alternatives were disappearing, I was concerned that I wasn’t getting answers to emails or phone calls, and all public transportation had been shut down. So I reached out to one of her coworkers (remember what I said about dodging voice architects).

              Recruiter’s co-worker apparently didn’t know how office telephones worked, so he didn’t put me on hold. I was listening to this arrogant obnoxious bitch (literally) scream (at her co-worker) about how incensed she was because I wasn’t satisfied to sit and wait for weeks at a time until she got around to answering my inquiries because she was so “busy.” A 15 to 30 second email would have been sufficient, but apparently not for her.

              She was really busier looking for another job, since she knew that the writing was on the wall that there wouldn’t a wall much longer, let alone a job. Jobs (especially for recruiters) were disappearing. This recruiter had no idea that I clearly heard ALL of this while her co-worker held the handset.

              The engagement didn’t work out well, with the recruiter screwing up the presentation to their client. I also made it clear to the recruiter that I didn’t work in a firehouse, and I don’t do fire drills. Employer had a crushing deadline and they weren’t moving to hire a project manager to manage that deadline with any urgency. Something was very wrong.

              But the bottom line was that the employer decided to do without the position with the pandemic situation moving in. That “2 year” project was completed 5 months later. Can’t blame that on the recruiter, but the nasty attitude, lack of respect, and poor quality performance I sure can. We parted on good (verbal) terms, but I would never trust someone like this with my professional credentials again.

              I am guessing that Antonio will have a great deal of difficulty topping this. ;)

              I’m still finding this difficult to believe, but this is probably where most recruiter ghosting is really coming from.

          • Paul Forel, I’m sure I can ascertain that you and I will probably be called out by the self-proclaimed blog police and virtue signalers for “posting too much”… lol (like who gives a rip).
            Like me, you’ve been around the block a few times, but from your posts (and Don Harkness), you clearly have your finger on the pulse of employers games and shenanigans when hiring, and not from some HR schlub’s experience.
            Off subject, what out of the box/non-cookie cutter techniques do you advise for an older worker who’s looking for an exit strategy in the next 3-1/2 years (be 66-1/2), but can’t officially hang it up (due to poor planning and lots of setbacks), and needs to keep working, and most likely needs to reinvent himself? Without a lot of backstory, the clown show I’ve been employed at for the past 8 years is spinning around the drain, so hopefully it will be there still in 3-1/2 years. And then, I’ve got to “get out of Dodge” At this stage in the game, the risk with jumping ship for yet another at will willy-nilly toxic employer, taking yet another pay cut, and dealing with asinine dead end job interviews, holds no appeal, let alone the endless ghosting.
            Keep the faith,

            • I try to keep in mind I’m on someone else’s turf when I post here. Were I given the latitude, I would use a lot of band width talking about the Executive Search business and the misconceptions thereof.

              Re your question, simply said, I do not have a depth of experience for those in the situation you describe.

              Nick is most likely to have suggestions that could work for you; my experience is tied to taking marching orders and running with the ball to fill a job/career opportunity. Occasionally I make suggestions about improving/altering the details of the career opportunity in mind so we change or add to written job specifications or bend the job to fit the candidate when we find a peach and the client sees the advantage/benefit to tailoring the position a bit more around the candidate.

              There are people in the Employment business who work with end of term professionals who know how to bridge from where you are to where you need to be. People in that niche would be most likely to know what to suggest.

              On the other hand, once you step off in any one direction, I can be helpful in suggesting how to capitalize on who you are and how to leverage that into a win. So what you need is someone who has been down this exact same road before.

      • If you will not tell me a job description, company name and why you targeted me (even if I promise confidentiality), I am inclined to believe that there is no job, only resume fishing. You may be the exception to the rule, but it is your duty to convince me.

  14. Job ghosting is old old hat. The disappearing recruiter, hiring manager, HR flunky, was pretty much SOP by the late 1990’s. Even after marathon interviews, getting any response became impossible. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Even automated responses evaporated, and those that didn’t were so delayed (up to 6 months late!) as to verge on parody. I long ago learned to expect very very little, and so rarely disappointed.

    • Ghosting was invented by people who were sent on blind dates by well-intentioned friends or, sometimes, by friends pulling a fast one. One sneak peak at the date before approaching and, scram, outta there without a word.

      Cf. also, stood up.

      My editor at Penguin was the first to point out to me the similarities between job hunting and dating.

  15. @Michael
    I was a front-line manager for thirty-five years, and the person-in-charge for thirty. Hundreds, if not a thousand or so, people passed through my doors to keep a ten-to-twenty person crew providing excellent supply chain service to the west side of the state. I can count on one hand the number of people you speak of, the same number of successors that I would recommend to my company. It’s lonely out there in the side-real universe.
    (I called the people “crushing it” “NEEs”–Naturally Effective Employees. Far too few of them about.)

  16. There’s a very easy way to see if a recruiter is worthwhile in that initial phone call too. You ask 3 simple questions:
    *Who is the job with?
    *Where is the job at?
    *What sort of position is it? (Permanent/contract+duration)

    If they cannot answer those 3 questions, there is no position. They’re trying to use you to either pad their rolodex of resumes, to find a contact at your current employer that they can make a sales pitch to (tip: don’t put your current employer’s name on your resume), or to try and learn something that you know that will help them find a candidate for another position.

  17. Another test…make some use of LinkedIn. And you can do this while on the phone. Look them up, a) see if they’re even there. b) if there, their work history, c) their contact info, d) if they’re being honest about themselves… from there you can improv with some personal reverse interview questions…

    and/or ask them to send you a cc of their resume,
    and/or ask for referrals. people they placed, preferably at that company. These 2 will usually get you singing and dancing and most often ghosting. Think about it. They have, or are asking you for your resume. Quid Pro Quo.
    Further. Nick Mentioned Boiler works. This is what that means. rows of “recruiters” side by side, if upscale, perhaps in personal cubes. Working for a management that believes in the odds of a “hit” per a certain # of calls. the more calls or contacts the more likely you’ll get lucky. For example a 10/10/10 rule. For every total calls you make, 10% will respond. For every # of responses, 10% will be a potential placement, for every # of potentials 10% will be placed. And I mean calls for the people I worked for. Digital didn’t work for them. This means a recruiter was expected to make X calls a day, monitored by switchboard software that captured # of calls, the phone #’s called, duration of calls. ongoing and eventually compared to placements/your performance. You are (no maybe) expected to input data into a data base, or tracking system, which may or may not capture most of the data. If lucky there will be a data entry person to do it for you. One big reason you get ghosted is they are constantly sucked into the present. You get easily forgotten. No time for courtesy replies.

    also there may be division of labor. Sales people get clients & toss them to recruiters to follow up..
    And sometimes there is more division of labor. You may get contacted by a “sourcer” is not a recruiter but a screener, who does the calling/emailing grunt work, screening for promising hits which are tossed to a recruiter.

    That client? may not exist. The sales person/recruiter may be reverse engineering it. finding a job from a website, then go looking, and using a “hit” to then approach a client with a warm body to leverage a contract. Along with X # of other recruiting companies playing the same game.

    Not everyone works this way, experienced headhunters and recruiters, do have street cred and related personal contacts with clients, hiring managers and prior placements. They can pass those tests. Because they have networks and personal contacts anchored by practices with integrity developed over their years in the business. If these people have real opportunities, and they believe you have potential, they will willingly and quickly provide you the info you need to convince you of same and gain your trust. they will not waste your time, because it waste their time and the time of a client, which is bad business.

    How do you find them? You know them or people who do. per your network development and working your personal contacts within it, as this blog has consistently recommended over the years.

  18. oh, and a big reason you may get ghosted. Recruiting, especially boiler works business models, is a high
    turnover business. You likely don’t get a call back or the person’s no longer there.

  19. When I was looking for a job, it was not unusual to get ghosted. When that happened, I would send HR and/or the hiring manager the following email:

    “Dear… I have contacted you multiple times over the last two weeks to get an update on the status of my candidacy for this position. I have not received any communication back from you with a response. Please remove my name as a candidate for this position. During my process of determining who I want to work for, I have concluded that your organization lacks the professionalism that I would expect and leads me to believe that I would not receive any better treatment should I become an employee.”

    To my amazement, I actually received some responses apologizing and asking me to call them. Of course, I ghosted them.

    When I was a hiring manager, I called each job candidate who did not get an offer and directly spoke with them, to the astonishment of our HR department. When they asked my why I would do this I answered, “We spent a lot of time and money interviewing these people, they invested a lot of time and money. The least I could do is spend two minutes telling them they did not get the job. We’re dealing with humans, not machines.”

    • @Tom N: Good for you! Unfortunately, you are the exception, rather than the rule, regarding the basic courtesy of getting back to people and letting them know that they didn’t get the job.

      I’ve never understood it. You don’t have to be mean, and I think job hunters want to know, compared to wondering whether the hiring manager or HR fell off the face of the earth. Ghosting job candidates has been going on a long time. I remember getting ghosted when I was applying for jobs after finishing college, and this was during the pre-internet and automation era! I also remember getting hired, and learning that my new boss didn’t bother to let the other candidates know that they didn’t get the job. The reason? They’ll figure it out. Well, yes, they will. But that is beside the point. The point, as you noted, is professionalism and basic courtesy.

      I wish there were more hiring managers like you.

      For those who say they’re too busy (and that includes HR), how difficult can it be to set up an auto-generated email response to each candidate who didn’t get the job? It says a lot more about the employer than anything else (and yes, basic manners and courtesy seem to be lacking).

    • Tom N,

      You must be a mind reader. This was EXACTLY what I was about to ask for someone to post.

      On a small number of jobs that I’ve pitched over the years, it appeared that the (legitimate postings) could have been written from my resume. In fact I just interviewed yesterday for a position where both the HR recruiter, AND a VP at that same company (on different days), said that same exact thing, without my coaching.

      I don’t expect to have a problem with those potential employers, since they’re facing bigger challenges pursuing a customer for projects that I would be running. And considering who that customer is, and what that customer expects, I’ll give them a month or two. They’ve earned some slack.

      But for the smaller customers and less complex projects, where I had some kind of emotional investment, I was looking for the right strategy and at whom that missile should be launched.

    • @Tom N: Thank you. You are in the 5% that makes companies work. As a tiny minority, you have virtually NO competition. While other managers, recruiters and candidates are spinning the roulette wheel, you’re going to work and doing all the right things. I marvel at how few are the managers telling stories like yours and defining the standard.

    • “We spent a lot of time and money interviewing these people, they invested a lot of time and money. The least I could do is spend two minutes telling them they did not get the job. We’re dealing with humans, not machines.”

      Here’s the thing that gets lost on a lot of people: I bet by doing this, you’re not only generating good will, but possibly lowering time to fill/cost to fill open positions.

      What I’m getting at is that if you give folks honest, timely actionable feedback on what they did well and where they fell short, they may address those areas and re-apply. This is how I got my current role – I wasn’t hired the first time I interviewed with them, but got some ideas on what to do in the future. The next year, they had an opening and I applied and was successful.

      I’ve talked with quite a few people and they generally feel the same way – if you take time out and give a thoughtful reply, they will be more apt to apply again in the future or suggest people they know apply. In other words, when this happens, people don’t feel like the application process, preparation and interviews were all a giant time waster.

      • @David: I get my point across to managers by asking them what kind of guidance they give their employees, to help them do a better job. “DO you give guidance?” I ask. “Of course!” they answer. “Give me some examples.”

        Some go into great detail. Then I ask, “But, why do you BOTHER?”

        The answer is always some form of “Because I want them to succeed!”

        “Then, why don’t you give such guidance to job candidates? Wouldn’t it be good for you if a candidate succeeded and got hired?”

        Managers get so suckered into treating applicants different from employees that they forget we’re all in this to do a good job on the job! Too often the HR model casts this as an adversarial encounter — the employer vs. the applicant. “How can we test them to find out how incapable they really are??”

        Note to employers: Focus on helping job applicants, not on abusing them. You’ll identify and hire more good ones.

        You’re absolutely right, David!

        • Extend what you said to contractors, temps, interns, part timers, and any other non-employees
          you can think of. I’ve seen so many times managers or their company seems to think that if you’re not an employee, you don’t need to think they merit like treatment. or to feel like they’re part of an organization. Though in fact, that they are there doing the same work as employees, and how well they do it is as important as employees

          examples: exclusion from meetings (where it counts they are bound by the same non disclosures), career advice, guidance, concern about their welfare etc etc

  20. My “ghot” story”: Was unemployed for a while at a time when a lot of DoD contractor firms in the DC area like my former employer had to cut a lot of “overhead” positions like mine. The supply exceeded the demand for my skills. There was a position advertised through a local staffing firm that was in line with my search. I called, sent them my resume, and we agreed to meet the next day at their brick and mortar office. When I approached the receptionist, I got a strange look. The interview bounded into the conference room where I had been led. She had a big smile on her face that instantly faded when she saw me. I was very professionally dressed but had gray hair. The interview was positive if not perfunctory, and she said that she would send my resume to the employer. (I really ticked all the boxes including salary.) Although I followed up appropriately both by e-mails and phone, I never heard another word from her.

    • Your sin was your age (and gray hair too). I’m 63, and the only gray I have, thankfully, are streaks in my beard. That being said, your ageism experience did have some grace to it, be it superficial. Try having dissolute perspective employers be blatant, in your face, no holds barred ageists. That’s no cake walk. Happened to me many times.
      The blessing here is even though one needs a job, one doesn’t need to work for shylocks.

  21. Antonio, I’m curious in what ways perspective employers were blatant in their ageism.
    It would be interesting to have some examples.

    • Borne,
      To my face, and straight from the horses mouth to you:
      “You’d be a drain on our insurance”.
      “You’re too old to learn our data base system”.
      “You’d be too set in your ways to learn new things”.
      “We are a young woke work culture. You’d clearly not fit in”.
      “You’re too old”.
      “I can hire a kid fresh out of college for a fraction of the cost I’d have to pay for you”.
      And the list goes on and on.

    • Borne, here are a few of mine (from prospective and former employers):

      About 28 years ago, during a period of extended unemployment (for most of the US, and me), I pitched a position that I had worked about 14 years before that. Happened to be something I did very well, and was able to show it. Hiring manager asked me, “aren’t you a little too old for this kind of work?” Didn’t get that job.

      About 15 years ago, from a recruiter reviewing my resume for a job (that I didn’t get):

      “Most of my clients are asking for the same number of total years’ experience as you have for only ONE of your projects.”

      A few years ago, a former employer, who consistently gave the best project assignments only to younger project managers, more recently described me (in front of a coworker) as an “old technician” in a company that didn’t need anything fixed. That was just before a business downturn that proved him wrong. Company had to exit the business. That fixed it for them.

      While I was browsing job listings at a few days ago, I found more than one US Dept. of State IT Foreign Service jobs where they stated that the applicant must be no older than 60 years old. Yet all of those USDOS job descriptions claim full compliance with the EEOC. Was that blatant enough?

      • The EEOC is a joke! They chase ambulances for frivolous claims, while the most egregious and in your face claims go nowhere!
        They’re also complicit in ageism and other forms of discrimination.
        I had an account (now closed and moved to Mexico) that manufactured playing cards for the gaming industry. The EEOC actually schooled them on how to successfully implement nepotism and discrimination. When this company wanted to offer a position to an internal candidate, but were required to run an ad stating that they were an EEO employer, they were told by the EEOC rep to write up an inflated job description exclusive to their industry. Few if any candidates applied, and of course they were unqualified and disqualified if they did apply. The EEOC rep told them this is how they could protect themselves from claims of discrimination.
        Besides ageism, the handicapped face egregious in your face discrimination as well. There’s a nice young man in my church who was adopted from the Ukraine. He has a deformed and withered right arm and hand. But he compensates well with his left arm and hand. He’s done cashiering work in fast food restaurants, and he’s been good at it. He went to culinary school, but employers tell him to his face that he’d be unable to do kitchen work, or he’d be an embarrassment to them. This kid is no SJW, and he doesn’t run to the EEOC. He told me “why would I want to work for someone like that”?

        • Hey, I never said the EEOC actually did anything! I was referring to the body of law they (allegedly) enforced.

          There are a good number of briefs from lawsuits they brought that pretty much show them as goofballs. One was a suit they brought against a media industry giant who rarely hires anyone (below C level) older than about 25. EEOC’s counsel was very unprepared, off the mark, and it wasn’t clear to me that their legal team were smart enough to be embarrassed. That media giant was one of my clients, and yes absolutely they did that all the time. And they’ve also been ghosting job applicants for years (they did it to me, too, back in the day).

          However, if the EEOC sits on a complaint for 90 days, then you can bring your own lawsuit…that is if you can find a lawyer who will take your case. Very difficult to get one engaged unless if you’re a young woman (really). If they can’t get headlines, and can’t collect humongous damages, they won’t touch it.

          • Never said you were a champion of the EEOC. Don’t get like the woke on here.
            Most employers capitulate immediately if the EEOC enters the scene, especially when a protected class is involved.
            The EEOC, as dubious and inept as they might be, have deep pockets and endless resources.
            I’ll give two accounts-
            We had a then 24 year old woman at my current day job a few years back that was a terrible employee. I mean bad! Among the many egregious offenses and blatant bad behavior that would’ve got an old white male like me terminated instantly, was her propensity to curse like a dock worker, and talk openly about her sexual escapades, or lack there of.
            Problem was, our soft (mostly male) managers, enabled, or white knighted, for, this (single mommy) young woman. One day, she had a heated fight with her supervisor and walked out. She was AWOL for 5 working days. Company policy was if you’re a no call/no show after 3 days you’re automatically terminated for job abandonment. On the 6th working day she returned, and demanded her job back. To my utter shock, the clown show actually enforced company policy. She filed suit with the EEOC, who later came in and conducted a cursory investigation. Her suit was this, my boss had a calendar from a vendor that had photos of scantily clad NFL cheerleaders on it. Her suit claimed she was “traumatized” by this. Huh?
            3 years later, I was called on the carpet one afternoon, and was told I was being subpoenaed as a character witness for her case. Huh?? That’s like being subpoenaed as a character witness for the late Charles Manson. Really? My employer told me I was on my lonesome. I made up my mind I was going to simply say “that was 3 years ago, and I don’t remember her, nor much of anything”. My employer quickly settled out of court, and I later heard she went through LPN training on their dime from the settlement.
            I supplement my day job by teaching as an adjunct instructor at night in a 9 month welding program at a CC. I had an older student retraining late in life (not uncommon today). He’d spent 36 years in the transportation industry, having worked his way up from dock worker, to CDL driver, to terminal manager. With meticulous documentation, he terminated a bad employer who happened to be black. The driver filed suit with the EEOC claiming discrimination. The trucking company immediately capitulated, hired the driver back, and gave him a monetary settlement to boot.
            The rub was this guy ordered stacks of Dominoes Pizzas to share in the break room with all his colleagues, and he told them “this is part of my sharing from my cash settlement from suing the company”. My student took early retirement, and walked out after 36 years with this employer. Talk about brazen!

            • What you’re describing isn’t EEOC’s deep pockets, but rather employers who choose to act strictly on the basis of what’s cheaper to bring to a conclusion. It’s frustrating to watch, but it’s a hard reality they have to deal with.

              Some employers are magnets for these kind of incidents. One good example is Ohio State University. Web search can bring up hundreds of lawsuits. But in their case, most of those are justified. OSU appears to have established a management policy to abuse professors, employees, and contractors, then daring them to sue. EEOC just piled on with another well documented lawsuit targeting WFR with age discrimination. Very unhealthy atmosphere. No wonder Joe Burrow left.

  22. Antonio, I heard of an older candidate being asked in an interview: “Why are you looking for a job at your age”; “Don’t you have savings”.

    They forget that one day they will be as old as we are.

    • Borne,
      I’ve always appreciated your pragmatic and reality based posts, and the fact that your words trigger the rainbow and unicorn woke types who post on here sometimes. We share a consonant ground.
      It’s been common that once a worker hits 50 (save maybe if a guy is in a skilled trade or specialized STEM occupation, oh, and in tenured academia and government jobs, or self employed), they have a bullseye on their backs.
      I’m now seeing, and hearing, that it’s dropping to 40-45!
      Back in 2010 (I was pushing 53), I had a long and arduous stint of unemployment. After wasteful and disheartening pajama blogging job boards, useless networking, and go nowhere recruiters, I went full scorched earth old school shotgunning, handing out resumes door-door in industrial parks. Surprisingly, I did get some interviews, be they mostly tire kicking. One place was a fire sprinkler company. I had an initial phone interview with a pleasant and professional young HR woman. The face-face later that week was with a 25 year old petulant Operations Manager. The interview went south instantly, despite my attempts (and sheer desperation) to keep it on track. Finally, I gave up, leaned forward, looked into his Ritalin glazed eyes, and said “someday you’ll be sitting right where I’m sitting”. The kid smirked, told me to have a nice day, and motioned me towards the door. A few days later, I received a scathing email from this kid telling me I was “an old fat loser, and that he wouldn’t hire me if I was the last person on earth”. I replied that his infantile email and decorum was incredibly tasteless and unprofessional, that I’d been around long before he ever existed, and that there was a time when an employer would terminate an employee for conducting themselves like this. I then forwarded it to the nice young HR lady with the simple question “is this how your company treats job candidates”? She sent me a gracious apology. I doubt anything happened (the Nuremberg defense is young and cheap).

      • A 25 year old operations manager? I suspect a lot of increasing ageism is due to kids being promoted into ‘senior’ positions that decades ago required some considerable experience (and a few gray hairs) to obtain. And the inexperience shows, not just in recruitment, but how increasingly ineptly businesses are run. This is especially prevalent in the tech industry. You could be shocked how chaotically many apparently successful companies operate on the inside.

        In my early career I saw older workers being mistreated, and figured that would eventually happen to me. And sure enough it did. The tech industry is especially notorious for this.

        • no I couldn’t be shocked by chaos inside hi tech companies. Worked most of my life inside of them.

          Real men don’t need no freakin process.

          Oft times you could liken it to a bunch of monkees in a barrel trying to make love to a greasy football.

  23. One example, was that when I arrived home from the interview, the rejection email was already in my inbox.
    They probably decided before I even opened my mouth.

  24. There are people who do not use recruiters and haven’t in decades of successful careers in fields like information technology. I thought I would add this comment because sometimes we finally discover walls that simply aren’t there and never have been. For some of us.

    • @Phil: That’s what I call a sanguine attitude. Don’t look for obstacles you’ll have to overcome. Look for ways to communicate about working together to make good things happen. Entire religions are based on this notion! Thanks, Phil.

  25. I had a major defense contractor ghost me a few years ago after a couple of interviews. Now the job market has tightened – a lot (I’m in computer security) – and they’re trying to get me to apply again.

    I can’t tell you the joy I received when I told the recruiter I wouldn’t apply because I got ghosted last time and won’t waste my time with them.

    On the other hand, I’ve had companies who have contacted me with the “bad news”, then they contacted me again. I might be starting a new job with one of them soon. :)