J Patrick + Associates Blog

11 Reasons Why Recruiters Don’t Call You Back

Posted by Daniel Sullivan on Tue, Oct 15, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

11 Reasons: Why Recruiters don't call you back

Frustrated by search firm recruiters not calling you back after you have submitted your resume to them?  Feel you’re perfect for the job posted and baffled by the fact that you haven’t heard back?  Here are some answers as to why you haven’t heard back, and some things you can do to better optimize your job search. 

1. YOU may think you’re qualified, but that does not mean THEY think you’re qualified!

Search firms are paid a significant fee to evaluate candidates that the client company cannot find on their own. They are charged with having to determine if a candidate will exceed expectations for that client in the given job. The client company gives the search firm a series of parameters to meet that justify paying a fee to the search firm if the candidate embodies those requirements.

Frankly, it just does not matter that you think you can do the job. The search firm has to ensure you have ALL of what their client's expects:  the proper years of experience, company caliber exposure, demonstrated track record of results, culture fit potential, professional training and educational credentials. If you are missing even just one piece of it, typically you will not be considered by the search firm and your resume will never be submitted for the job. 

As long as you have not been contacted by the search firm or submitted to the company by them, apply through a different venue (networking, applying directly to the company website, etc) that does not add a fee to your head if hired.

2. Search firms are not paid by you, and therefore, do not work for you.

Reputable search firms are only paid by their client company. The company is their client--not you, and they do not exist to find you a job. Credible search firms do not accept fees from candidates for representation to companies, and only get paid when they actually make a placement for a company.  If your background will ensure that they get that placement fee, rest assured that they will contact you.

3. You paid a firm to send your resume to 1,000 recruiters…and it shows.

If you are doing a mass emailing, you cannot expect personalized response results. Even a very successful direct email campaign has a response rate of just 1-2%.  If you have a properly targeted, well-written direct campaign to 1,000 contacts, you will get 10-20 quality calls. If you have a well-written campaign sent to a random sampling of recruiters, you may get 5-15 calls from recruiters who may not place what you do.  And if it is a non-targeted, poorly written campaign, no one will call—or you will receive calls to sell you job search services since you clearly need some help!

4. Search firms don’t place what you do.

You are a Medical Director of a Big Pharma Firm and the recruiter places digital media experts within advertising agencies. You live in Wyoming and the recruiter works with companies in Illinois and Texas.  No matter how great you are and how good your experience and achievements are, you are not getting the call. It is important to know the capacity of the search firm before you send your resume.

5. The search firm has no idea what you do.

Your resume is filled with so much corporate-speak and fluff that they have no idea what you do.  Saying “Leader in the industry” does not help anyone understand what you do. What kind of leader? What level of leader? What industry?   What did you achieve? If the recruiter has to work at figuring out what you do, you are not going to hear from them.

6. They do not have the right job for you.

The search firm actually thinks your background is amazing. They know what you do and are impressed where you do it and how you have done it. But they simply do not have the right job for you. Given that recruiters need to focus on finding candidates that can fill their jobs to make a living, they most likely will not have time to call you. 

7. Your background is not worth a company paying a fee.

This may sound harsh, but it is true.  If you are unemployed or you have too many jobs in a short period of time, you may fall into this category.  If you do not have a series of promotions or you have an eclectic group of varied experiences, you are in this boat, too. This is a simple economics issue.  The supply of these types of candidates is too great right now and companies will not pay a fee unless your background is worth it.

Accepting this fact about yourself does not mean you are doomed to not find a great job. It just means you will probably not find one through a search firm. This really is not that bad of a situation. Search firms account for a very small percentage of hires in the US.  Most hires are made through networking!  So companies will hire you, just through other venues without the price tag attached—so go to those venues!

8. The search firm is overwhelmed and, unfortunately, cannot get back to every applicant with the “Thanks, but no thanks” email.

Don’t take it personally when recruiters do not call to tell you that you are not right for the job. Do not cause yourself added stress by thinking it is personal—it is simply a logistics issue regarding limited resources.  With the volume of resumes that third party and corporate recruiters receive in today’s market, it is physically impossible to get back to everyone. To help ease the rejection you might feel, set goals for outbound activity each week, knowing that only a certain percentage will reap results. It is all a numbers game.

9. Your resume has been posted on all the job boards for a long time.

Companies pay recruiters to find candidates they cannot find themselves. If your resume is posted on many job boards for any significant length of time, you are not exclusive. You are readily available and easily found. When I recruited, I had company clients tell me I could not submit candidates that were found on the job boards--even if I sourced that candidate myself or the candidate was referred to me!  As frustrating as it was, I understood.  Why would they pay a recruiter for someone they could easily find on their own? 

Does this mean you should not be on the boards? Not necessarily. It depends on your story.  If you are not working or know that your company is going to be laying you off and you cannot be without a job, do what you have to do to get that next job.  If you know you will not be well served by recruiters, then you must use other means.  But consider being selective and not post yourself everywhere. Or consider submitting to job postings only. The best option is to commit to networking within the target company list you create and approach contacts directly.

10. You are looking to switch careers or start your career.

You are a successful pharmaceutical sales manager, who just recently graduated with a bachelors in accounting. Now you are looking to get an entry-level position in accounting.  The best option is to contact companies directly for a position in your new career. A recruiter cannot help new college graduates or individuals who want to change careers. Why? Remember, recruiters get paid by clients to find candidates who have had prior success in a job similar to the one they need to fill. A company is not going to pay a recruiter to hire someone to start a new line of work with no proven track record in the field.

11. Don’t test the waters on the recruiter’s time.

On paper, you may appear too comfortable in your job.  Recruiters want to work with candidates who want to make a move.  If it seems you may be shopping or comfortable, but not serious about a new position, your resume will be passed over. Reformat your resume to show career progression, achievements and promotions.  If you present yourself as someone out looking for the next ripe opportunity and who gets results, you increase your chances of getting the call. 

You may find that you identify with a few of the reasons and fall in a few categories above.  Does this mean you are not destined to find a job?  Absolutely not!!  This is a lesson in marketing and economics.  Instead of expecting results from recruiters, you need to present your background in venues where you will be reviewed and perceived as a valuable candidate that should be hired!

Written by Lisa Rangel, Executive Resume Writer

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Tags: Recruiter Tips, Job Search, Job Interviews, Career Strategies