I work in legal compliance in a growing industry. My skills are in demand and up to date. But I’m struggling to get anyone’s attention and I remain unemployed after a start-up I worked for failed. After conversation with a former colleague, I suspect that I may have been blacklisted either by recruiters or by a past employer. I discussed this suspicion with two career coaches and received the same pat answer: “Get those suspicions out of your mind! Stop worrying about it!”
I know about typical recruiter conduct (ghosting, ignoring), and I know to be professionally patient myself because folks are simply so busy these days. And I know there may be very good and logical reasons for getting no response from two specific industry recruiters who have always been friendly, responsive and supportive in the past.
But what if something really has occurred to hurt me? How to discover it, how to deal with it, and how to clear it up? How to get any feedback if they never write or reply to my job search e-mails? Would calling them to inquire or attempt to resolve be received as too direct or confrontational?
Sorry to hear about this. You’re right, it might be nothing – just busy recruiters. Or it might be something. I don’t want to be dismissive, so if you really believe you have evidence, I’d talk with an attorney for advice and legal help. Interfering with someone’s right to work can be a serious issue — if that’s what’s going on. A lawyer might put a private investigator on this, though that may be a stretch.
Blacklisted? Maybe, maybe not
I don’t think I’d call the recruiters or employers about this. If they have really blacklisted you, how would it help to call them? If they’re not, your call may set them to wondering about you – Is this person paranoid? Without hard evidence, you just may create a problem where there isn’t one.
One measure you can take on your own is to hire a good reference-checking service to find out what’s being said about you. But that won’t be conclusive. Negative judgments about people are usually traded via back channels, not out in the open.
Blacklisted by A.I.?
In a recent column (Is Artificial Intelligence Adopting Recruiting’s Worst Practices?) my good buddy Suzanne Lucas discusses how A.I. is infecting employers and recruiters with a more insidious form of ghosting behavior. She asks whether high-speed rejection of job applicants is a new thing, and suggests employers should beware:
“This should be a concern for talent acquisition professionals and hiring managers because they remain legally responsible for their decisions — except they don’t know precisely how A.I. decides.”
This just might be your real problem. In the end, you must follow your own judgment.
Don’t chase after recruiters
My best advice is to avoid getting stuck in just one job-search mode. Stop relying on recruiters. The best solution is to learn to go straight to the hiring managers yourself. That’s the only way to control your job search.
This requires creating referrals and recommendations that will trigger employers to meet you. That is, by talking with people that surround your target employer, and giving them reasons to refer and recommend you, you will “go around” any possible blacklist problem. You can create your own positive buzz. Please read Want the job? Go around HR. It works with going around recruiters, too!
If you feel you need to discuss the confidential details of this, please check my Talk to Nick service.
I wish you the best.
Have you ever been blacklisted in your job search, with hard evidence to support your conclusion? It’s rare, but it does happen. Whether or not that’s the case in this reader’s story, let’s discuss what real blacklisting really looks like — and how to deal with it. What’s your blacklist story?