No one enjoys being ignored, disrespected or tooled around, especially if their livelihood or financial security is as stake. Yet many executive job applicants claim this is a common occurrence in the job search process.  Poor or no communication elicits feelings of frustration, even anger.


Let’s talk perspective.  The causes of these issues, including delays and the feelings about them, are often in the eye of the beholder.   There can be legitimate reasons for the “radio silence” which are frequently out of control of the recruiter.   But how the recruiter manages the communication process, including the lapses, can have a big impact on the applicant’s outlook about the recruiter or even the potential employer

Here are five insights to an increasingly dysfunctional talent acquisition process. 

This means the best candidates for a position may be left on “the cutting room floor“…

  1. Recruiters receive a deluge of resumes for every job search they are working.  Out of work executives frantically seeking a new position as well as executives with good, stable jobs who are casting out their resumes to test the water for a better salary and job security are flooding the job market, making the work of search firms and corporate recruiters that much more difficult. 
  2. This glut of resumes is swamping recruiters and search firms.  These resumes have to be processed and reviewed even if they are not serious applicants.  This takes time, even when you have Applicant Tracking Software (ATS).
  3. Clients are being much more particular (and demanding) about the qualifications and experience of the candidates.  More and more they are only accepting 100 percent matches for experience, accomplishments and credentials. This means the best candidates for a position may be left on “the cutting room floor,” to borrow a Hollywood cliche.
  4. With this increased workload, communications suffer. That said, inconsistent and poor communication between recruiters and applicants has been an issue for as long as I have been in the business.  As a job applicant in the 1990s, I had the same experiences.  Some recruiters take the position that for the candidate, no news is good news.  Unfortunately, candidates do not share that rationale or excuse for poor communication.   I am not defending my brethren in the search trade, but I know that when you are managing four or five major search engagements, good time management can become difficult.  (As a recruiterI tried to mitigate that challenge by providing regular email messages to the candidate panel but there were times that we, too, dropped the ball).  That said, recruiters, either at the corporate level or search firm consultants, have little or no control over the client’s schedule.  We can extol the importance of staying on schedule but that advice does not, actually it rarely, prevails.
  5. Candidates who push to enforce the recruiter’s previous timeline pronouncements only make things worse for themselves.  It is OK to reaffirm your interest in the position but you should avoid wording in a telephone call or email that implies or outright accuses the recruiters of missing a deadline or failing to communicate. 

It may not always be fair to the candidates but it is the process. Hopefully it will chance.