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