Being Ghosted…Welcome to the Job Application ‘Black Hole’
When I was initially planning to leave IBM, I started applying to senior level IT positions in the downtown Atlanta area. I knew I was qualified…yet I received zero feedback on my job applications.
I was frustrated. I was insulted. And I felt hopeless.
Now that I am on the recruiting side, I have learned there is always a reason why job seekers don’t receive a response to their job applications. Actually, there are several; so let’s take a look as to why job recruiters may be ghosting you.
You Thought Your Job Application Was About You
If you walk away from reading this article with only one important tidbit, this is it:
That job post doesn’t exist because you need a job.
It also doesn’t exist just to enable you to work from home / grow your career / enable you to make more money / homeschool your kiddo / insert your personal reason here.
That job post DOES exist because the company has a need.
It bears repeating: the company has a need.
Of course you have a need too, and in a perfect world, your personal needs and career objectives will certainly align with what the company needs. So the real question is how do you, as a mature job seeker, clearly articulate this alignment when completing your job application?
I just recently hired a Virtual Assistant. Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I am a huge fan of pre-qualifying candidates by asking a series of questions through email before progressing them to an interview.
I should note that the questions are always simple, and while some of the questions are competency based (describe your experience with xyz), my favorite question for any role is always: Why did you apply for this particular position?
The wrong answer(s)
Now, before I tell you the right or wrong answer to this question, let me ask you this: why do you think I (or any Hiring Manager) would ask this question?
The secret? There isn’t a hiring manager alive who doesn’t want to believe that you have hand-selected their position. Which means, if you approach the job application process while only viewing your side / your needs / your ambitions, then you are taking a very flawed approach to the job search.
So now that you have thought of why this question was asked, do I even need to tell you the wrong answers? I probably do not need to, but I am going to anyway (smile).
In the specific situation where I was looking for a virtual assistant, the wrong answers included:
I was laid off from my other job.
I am truly sorry to hear that. But do you know what I am hearing? Duh – I need a job and you have one available.
EEK – What a way to make me feel special. Do you want to know what every hiring manager is thinking when you use this reason? I have put my blood, sweat and tears into this company…do you think I would hand the reins over to someone who…well…doesn’t care about my blood, sweat and tears? You could work at a fast food restaurant and gain income. You can sell shoes to gain income. This does not answer my question as to why you applied to this particular position over every other option available.
The real answer? Speak to something in the position that resonates with you. Why do you want this particular position? I get it – you likely have a mortgage to pay or kiddos that need to go to college. But why this particular position?
If you can’t make me (or any hiring manager) see that you actually want this position outside of the paycheck, then you are not likely to progress.
I would be able to work from home.
I have worked from home since the year 2000. I traveled extensively for the first 10 years, and I absolutely loved working out of my home office when I wasn’t on a plane. Working in my fuzzy bunny slippers and having a more flexible schedule was a big perk.
So I get it. But surely something else about the job description, the company’s philosophy, or the project’s mission resonated with you?
I was interviewing recruiters several years ago when I asked one candidate what challenge she felt she would have to overcome when it came to working from home. She was honest, stating that she felt there would be no challenge as she would be able to keep her laundry caught up, her house clean, and always have dinner ready for her family when they arrived home from work and school.
Another gal stated that she had decided to home school her 8-year old, so working from home would be very convenient.
It will take a lot of effort (and a few arguments) to make your friends and family understand that working from home means working from home. While I love that we offer work-at-home positions, I want to speak with candidates who selected our opportunities because of the actual job (the function or challenge of the role) or because of how cool our company is (our philosophy, mission and contribution to the industry).
I also want to know how they will keep their work-at-home and life-at-home tasks separate.
This job will allow me to travel.
…and you have always wanted to travel. Trust me…it isn’t as glamorous as you think so if you select a position due to travel alone, you will likely be very dissatisfied at some point. When I traveled for IBM, I often went straight from the plane to my client’s site. I would work all day, then either travel to the hotel for a bite and to catch up on email, or travel back to the airport to catch my flight out.
If you see the travel as a perk to a position that already sounds interesting to you, great! And in that case, be sure to discuss the traits about the particular position that made you want to apply (the tasks, challenges, the difference you will make, etc).
But never (never) explain that you applied for a travel position because you want to travel.
I was looking through the job ads and your post seemed interesting.
A much better answer…but still not good enough. Be specific and be personal. What seemed interesting? Why did it seem interesting? How does that particular area of interest align with your career goals?
I will be happy to answer that question during an interview.
No, you won’t. Because I don’t interview people who are unable or unwilling to follow directions. This type of response shows me that either you:
- don’t have the competency to follow simple directions, or
- can’t be bothered to do the work (cough…read my perception of you is that you are lazy), or
- have an issue with authority and will therefore consistently refuse to follow directions, or
- have such a high opinion of yourself that your feeling of entitlement makes you believe that you deserve to progress solely due to your awesomeness.
The Point of Every Job Post (seriously – Every. Job. Post.)
At the risk of repeating myself (but because it is so important): There isn’t a hiring manager alive who doesn’t want to believe that you have hand-selected their position.
Which means, if you approach the job application process while only viewing your side / your needs / your ambitions, then you are taking a very flawed approach to your job search.
Maybe you aren’t as qualified as you think you are
You may feel you meet the actual job qualifications, but job recruiters may see something different. While this doesn’t excuse the ‘non-response’ from the job recruiter, it should provide a reminder that you must always be self-assessing.
It should also provide a reminder that you are always competing with other candidates who may be more qualified than you.
Working With a Recruiter to Find a Job
When I first started working in this industry many years ago, one of my candidates was an older gentleman that had been in the industry for a very long time. He was what you may call a ‘jack of all trades’ as he had done a ‘little bit of this and a little bit of that’ throughout the industry (and throughout his career).
I liked him. He was sweet. And I hadn’t yet learned the lesson that hiring managers want to select candidates who are clearly in control of their career.
I was unable to find a position for him. He became quite rude, accusing me of letting him down. My feelings were hurt and I learned a valuable lesson as it related to my true role as a CRA Job Recruiter.
The Job Recruiter’s True Role
If you choose to work with recruiters during your job search, it is important to understand the recruiting specialist’s role. Please note that I understand there are many BAD recruiters in the industry, and while I expect you have likely experienced the ‘good, the bad and the ugly’, let me take a brief moment to highlight some key characteristics of a quality job recruiter.
An honest, highly qualified and well respected recruiter is after only two things:
- building exceptional relationships with quality candidates and hiring managers, and
- matching these outstanding candidates with awesome hiring managers in a way that is of the highest good to all parties.
Additionally, an honest, highly qualified and well-respected recruiter will not:
- work with poorly qualified or unprofessional candidates, or
- work with poorly managed companies or unprofessional hiring managers.
Recruit the Recruiter
You should hand select your recruiters just like you hand select your jobs! The relationship between a quality recruiter and their hiring managers is very strong; therefore, know that a great recruiter can be your best advocate when you are seeking a new position.
Also know that a poor recruiter can damage your brand. Be picky!
Here are some questions you should consider asking your future recruiter before allowing them to represent you:
- Good recruiters will only send my resume to Hiring Managers when I have given my permission for them to do so. What is your methodology for gaining my consent to share my credentials with others?
- So that I can make an informed decision prior to being submitted for a position, I expect my recruiter to not only provide details about the job but also educate me regarding the company’s culture. How knowledgeable are you of the company and hiring managers for this particular position?
- My perfect recruiter will inform me of the interviewers and hiring team members’ personalities and backgrounds, thus providing valuable information to make me a better interviewer. How much ‘pre-interview’ coaching do you provide?
- What other steps do you perform to make me a more competitive candidate? A great recruiter will provide feedback on my personal brand, coach me on what my compensation or contract CRA hourly rate should be, and help me tailor my resume and cover letter. Do you provide these services to the CRAs you represent?
What any high quality recruiter really wants from you
Honesty. Transparency. Relationship.
Don’t stretch dates to hide a blip in your employment. Don’t pretend to have experiences, education or qualifications you really don’t have. Instead, be honest about your situation. Be honest regarding any mistakes you have made. And be honest about what you are really looking for.
Also, show professionalism and kindness in every interaction with your recruiter. We recommend that when you are speaking with a recruiter to act as if you are speaking directly with the hiring manager. For example, if you schedule a time to interview with your recruiter, make sure you are in a quiet place and prepared for the interview. Driving down the road, watching a baseball game on TV, and grocery shopping are not appropriate places to be during the time of your scheduled interview – regardless of whether that interview is with a sponsor or recruiter.
Help us to help you
Quality job recruiters are very particular about the candidates they refer to their clients; therefore, if a recruiter doesn’t feel confident in the story you are telling, your professionalism and skills, or otherwise feels your credentials are not marketable, your name and resume will be placed in the “no” pile and the recruiter will simply move on to the next potential candidate.
Working with a recruiter during your job search could be very beneficial to you if you select the right one, and if you are honest and transparent with them. When searching for a new position, if you do choose to work with a quality recruiter, make sure you treat the recruiter well. A quality recruiter can be your best advocate and will help you gracefully navigate your job search.
Want to speak with us more? Feel free to contact us and we will help where we can.
Thank you for this informative piece of advice.
Thank you for your comment Itam!
In my experience, recruiters have no idea what they are doing. I have had recruiters ask me about skills I have listed on my resume which are far superior than what their client is asking for but my resume wasn’t forwarded to the hiring manager simply because the recruiter didn’t know whats what. The hiring manager from the same company hired me when I applied directly 6 months later. I don’t deal with recruiters at all since then and I am very happy.
Thank you for your comment! It’s so unfortunate you had such a bad experience with recruiters in the past, I’m so sorry to hear that! It really is difficult isn’t it, to gauge how well your recruiter knows what their client needs. We believe working with a recruiting agency that is niched in your specific industry well help!
I agree with two comments.above. I have bad taste from a couple of recruiters. They submitted my information to the employers twice and I have no way to find out who duplicated my resume to one employer. This is not a good business practice but a lot of recruiters do this.
Thank you for your comment, Ashok. I agree with you that it is a terrible experience and it is very common. It is extremely important when working with recruiters to know their submittal procedures for a position ahead of time – how the process will work overall. It is a company policy of ours for a candidate to never be submitted without written authorization ahead of time. So your credentials are never compromised.
Thank you so much for the repost (and additional information). This is very helpful.