Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why Recruiters Don't Return Your Calls

Let’s start with a simple concept:  Anyone who does not return a call is bad-mannered.  That said, I hear all the time from candidates that some other recruiters don’t return calls or emails.   In order to explain why your calls do not get returned, you have to understand how recruiters work.

On any given day, a recruiter will see from one to five or six candidates.   The average, at least for me, is fifteen or so per week.  Some of these people will be candidates I know and have not seen in a while, but most will be people I have never met.  I’m pretty sure my interview load is reasonably typical of all recruiters.  I am aware that there are many recruiters who simply do not meet their candidates.  I meet everyone, even if I have to do a Skype call, which is pretty much like meeting people.

Now you have an idea of how many people a recruiter deals with.  It is just impossible to keep up with the call load, so many recruiters rely on their candidates to follow up with them.  I have written about this in the past. 

Add to this load, the other half of our business - clients and assignments.  At any given time, every recruiter has far fewer jobs than candidates.  All recruiters are the same. In the best of times, we will get about three or four new jobs a week, sometimes more.  So that means that while we are seeing fifteen people, if we are lucky we only get four or so jobs.  That would be in a normal economy.  In today's market, the number of new jobs is severely limited.

Do the math and you can see that the number of candidates far exceeds the number of jobs.  And, of course, those jobs will be at different levels and for people with different backgrounds and skills.  Most recruiters have some kind of computer data base.  When we get a job, we check to see if we have an appropriate candidate.  Surprisingly, much of the time we have to start calling people to see if they know someone who matches the job specs. That’s why recruiters are always either interviewing or on the phone.  I do my searches on the computer at around 8am and again at 6pm. 

Inevitably, if a recruiter has an appropriate job for you, they will call or email you immediately.  They don’t call when they have nothing.  However, if you haven't spoken to a recruiter in a while, it is always good to bring them up to date.  Your voice mail should say that you have new information for them.  When a recruiter doesn’t return your call it means that they don’t have anything for you, but that doesn’t excuse not calling back.

Most candidates don’t understand that it is difficult for recruiters to have to tell people that they don’t have the right job for them.  Many candidates mistakenly believe that once they meet a recruiter, there will be jobs or, at least, the headhunter will go out and try to market them.  It just doesn’t work that way.  Good recruiters generally work on assignment.  Because of the huge number of people we meet, it is impossible to network most of the people we meet, no matter who they are or how good they may be and no matter what their title has been.  It is not possible to continuously network candidates on a “go-see”, especially in this economy.  We just meet too many really good people.

Recruiters who don’t return calls and emails do so because it is easier than saying they don’t have anything.
But that is no excuse for rudeness.  Returning calls and emails is part of the business.  Just like in advertising, returning the calls of media reps or others who have ideas to sell, is part of the job. 

We have a rule at my company.  Everyone who calls or emails deserves a response within 24 hours, sooner if possible.  I was once an account person and know how frustrating it can be not to have a call returned by a headhunter.  It is one of the reasons I got into this business – I knew I could do it better and nicer.  I still don’t understand how recruiters don’t know how to multitask.  Returning an email or call is easy and requires little thought or creativity.

I always encourage my candidates to contact me as frequently as they feel they need to.  I just cannot tolerate rudeness.

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