Recruiters & Companies Don’t Call Me Back – 1 Possible Reason

This is a common complaint I, and most of my colleagues, have heard over and over. I know we aren’t alone, as I hear the same thing about companies not calling people back or acknowledging that they received your resume.

I’m sure these are valid complaints. I know they are frustrating.

I have come up with what might be a reason. Some will agree, and many might disagree, but that is what a blog is all about.

When I first started recruiting potential candidates, HR and hiring managers wouldn’t call me back. Let’s be honest, if you are a purchasing manager do you really call back every sales person that leaves you a message? Especially the sales person that makes a cold call. If you are in HR, do you honestly return the calls from every recruiter that wants to discuss with you the “perfect” candidate that they are working with that would be perfect for the job you are trying to fill? Especially if you have never heard of the recruiter. If you are a VP of Sales in California and are attempting to fill a position in Chicago, will you return every recruiter’s call that wants to present a potential candidate and schedule an interview?  Especially if you have two or three candidates from personal referrals.

My thoughts to all of these and personal experience is “no.” The calls never get returned. This is basically their way of saying, “I’m not interested.”

I think in every one of these examples, there is a bigger issue to focus on that gets to the heart of why calls aren’t returned. There is no relationship with the person. At the end of the day, those that have a relationship will generally get their calls returned. I think this is true in our personal life and in our business life.

I will take or return just about any call from a person I know, have worked with in the past, or have built some sort of relationship with. In addition, I will take or return calls from a stranger if they are referred to me by someone I have a relationship with. The cold call is generally so low on the priority list that I just don’t have the time to spend to speak with someone I don’t know.

This is why most recruiters I know encourage some sort of referral. I think the same holds true for companies. If you are a candidate responding to an ad or Website posting, you shouldn’t have expectations of hearing anything back if you don’t have some relationship with the person you are sending your resume to. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be nice, that it isn’t polite too or that it isn’t rude. I’m just suggesting to set your expectations at the right level.  Maybe think back to when you were working and didn’t return a call. Nobody, and I do mean nobody, returns 100% of all the calls they have ever received. It is impossible. I bet if you didn’t have a relationship with the person and it wasn’t a priority you didn’t return the call.

To be clear, I’m not referring to someone you have interacted with and then they drop you, such as a company or recruiter that doesn’t give you feedback after an interview or someone that has told you that they will call you and then doesn’t. If a hiring manager says that they will be back to you in a week and if you have any questions to call and then blows you off is rude. Why say it if they don’t mean it? Wouldn’t it be better to just say nothing?

This is why it is so important to build relationships in your career. I know you know this, but how are you doing at it? How have you helped someone this week with something they needed? It could be a referral, maybe passing on a job lead that wasn’t right for you, introducing them to someone that might help their business, inviting them to a networking event, and so on. These are all relationship building activities. These all involve action.

At the end of a conversation with me candidates will usually say, “Is there anything I can do for you?” Roughly 99% of the time these are just words. Few ever really help me when I do mention something. So why even ask? They have been taught to ask this question, but haven’t been taught how to follow through. This isn’t about me or this example with the candidate, it is about building a relationship. I would feel like I owed this person something if they gave me a referral or actually helped me. Remember they asked me the question. They volunteered it. The reverse is true also. If I ask them how I can help them then I have the same obligation to follow through if I want to build a relationship with them.

Don’t just work on those relationships now while in the market looking for a job. These relationship need to honed over time just like any relationship. Speaking for recruiters, I recommend building a relationship with 4 or 5. Some that specialize in your industry, some in your functional area, and some general recruiters in your geographical area. Recruiters live off of relationships and generally welcome the opportunity to have a mutually beneficial relationship.

So the next time your call isn’t returned, step back and focus on the relationship. Attempt to build that relationship and then see if your call return rate increases.

Here are some free resources to help you in your job search.

First, start by assessing the quality of your job search. To help you evaluate how effective it is you can download our free Job Search Self-Assessment Scorecard. This will help you to identify the strengths and weaknesses in your job search. Then you can focus on the weaknesses.CLICK HERE to download.

Sending an effective thank you letter can start the relationship. To download a sample thank you letter CLICK HERE

Finally, consider joining our LinkedIn Job Search Networking Group. There are a lot of great discussions and resources in this group. Over 5,300 people have joined. CLICK HERE to join.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard


About the Author

Brad Remillard is a founding Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions, co-author of "You're NOT the Person I Hired", and "This is NOT the Position I Accepted". Brad is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.

1 Comment

  • By Jorgen Sundberg, June 15, 2010 @ 8:11 am

    Candidates sometimes forget that recruiters are sales people and in order to have a fruitful relationship they have to feed the recruiter referrals, info or something worth their while.

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