Why do recruiters find me, offer an opportunity and then ghost?

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

This has probably happened to you several times, more often than you like.

A recruiter that you don't know reaches out to you about an exciting career opportunity and their message is almost always the same:

“Hi there, I came across your profile and was intrigued by all the skills and experience you have. You look like you would make a great fit for an opportunity I have...”.

You ask them a few questions, and they said to email your CV and phone number so that they can call you to discuss the role and schedule an interview.

And then, nothing. No response after that.

You wonder if this is even normal.

Are recruiters just collecting data? Are these LinkedIn profiles bots? Did something you say spook the recruiter off? What is going on?

Understanding the hiring process

Before we jump into any conclusions, let us understand a little on how recruiters hunt. So what does a typical hiring process look like and how does it work?

Every company is different, so it depends on the company and what methods the company uses to find applicants. However, most recruiters follow the recruitment funnel framework to hire.

This is not new, though, sales and marketing professionals have been successfully using the funnel method for years. Recruiters today use the same tactics for scouting and vetting potential candidates.

They start by casting a wide net, then steadily turn inquiries into leads – and ultimately, into closed deals or in this case, hires. Again, how companies define their funnel can vary.

However, here are the universal stages of a typical recruiting funnel:

Credit: Fetcher, 2019

Yes, it does look less humanising than how a candidate experience is supposed to feel.

But the recruitment funnel is essentially a framework for recruiters to narrow down the candidate pool until they are left with a desired number of hires in the shortest time possible.

Most technology firms, especially data-driven ones, are sure to be using this framework.

It's just math

Now, let's do some calculations by multiplication (or divide). Say if Google were to be looking for a Software Engineer, the hiring funnel should look something like this:

A recruiter reaches out to 81 candidates – normally through applications, referrals or LinkedIn,

  • 27 should make it to the screening process

  • 9 should be put through the hiring process

  • 3 should be shortlisted for an offer

  • 1 should get the offer (and be overwhelmingly likely to take the job)

Of course, the calculation above is just an approximate guideline. The harder to hire for the role, the number to multiply or divide would increase.

So if it were to be a C-suite level position like a CMO, a recruiter would have to screen at least 125 candidates, have 25 interviews for 5 to be considered for an offer to hire one candidate. This means that the recruiter would need about 625 candidates in the pipeline to be able to hit the target.

This is rather basic math, but it beats the feeling of being ghosted without reason.

Other reasons for getting ghosted

Besides being just a number in the hiring pipeline, Shireen Jaffer (Co-Founder and CEO of Edvo) shares more common reasons for why candidates may get ghosted.

  • There has been a change in priorities. An open position that was needed to be filled urgently suddenly isn’t as important.

  • Prioritising internal referrals. You may have had a great conversation on the phone or in-person, but the recruiter may be prioritising an internal referral instead.

  • Just a matter of timing. The recruiter you spoke to may be on a holiday, have quit, or been let go. It may have been either a very early or too late in the hiring pipeline when they reached out to you.

  • A poor or stressed recruiter. The recruiter might just be dropping the ball or feel overwhelmed by the job, and that’s why you do not hear back.

  • Too many candidates in the pipeline. Some roles and companies are just more popular than others. There could be too many applications to deal with, and you were lost in a pile.

On the other hand, it’s also possible that the candidate has done something to be ghosted.

  • Failing to follow-up. Sometimes, candidates can fail to follow-up without realising it, and it usually means they’re no longer a priority for the recruiter.

  • Not showing enough initiative. Being too passive in showing your interest in a role can also hurt your chances of moving forward as a potential hire.

  • Your profile is weaker. Hiring is about elimination. A recruiter that may have shown initial interest in your profile could have dropped you out of the process because you are not as suitable for the job, compared to the rest in their pipeline.

While we can all agree that being ghosted never feels good, all is not lost. Stay positive and try to reconnect with the company if you still feel like the job is the right opportunity for you.

Check out part II to read about the 4 things that you can do when recruiters and employers ghost you.

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