All too often I speak with candidates who are starting to despair because recruiters aren’t getting back to them. It could be because their applications appear to be dropping into a black hole; because having registered with one or more recruiters a deafening silence has ensued; or because having started a recruitment process they no longer know where they stand.
There are many possible reasons for these various scenarios but given how important this subject is to those who experience it, I think it’s important to explore the main ones. Part 1 examines what happens once a recruiter receives an application, how we respond at AR Resourcing, possible reasons recruiters aren’t engaging with your applications and things you can try in these scenarios. Part 2 explores what to do if you’re registered with recruiters but are hearing nothing, what to do when a recruitment process goes quiet.
What happens when a recruiter receives an application
The process of reviewing applications varies from company to company, however once a recruiter (or a researcher working with them) receives an application they will typically review it to identify how closely it matches the brief. Candidates likely to be suitable for this role, or other roles the company recruits for, will then be added to the CMS (candidate management system – a database of candidates) or, if they are already in the system, their record will be reviewed and updated.
The recruiter will then ensure that the candidate’s profile on the CMS is correctly coded with their skills, experience and ambitions so they should appear for future relevant roles when the database is searched. If the application is promising for any roles that they, or their colleagues, are currently recruiting for then the recruitment consultant or researcher will typically call the applicant to discuss their suitability and ambitions before potentially putting them forward on a shortlist.
Shouldn’t every application get a response?!
Each recruitment company has its own policy about responding to applications. Some set up an auto-respond to acknowledge receipt of every application, others may notify unsuccessful candidates once the shortlist has been finalised, others state on the application that if you haven’t heard anything by a certain date that you should assume the application has been unsuccessful, others only ever respond to the most relevant candidates etc.
Irrespective, for junior to mid-level roles, unless you reach interview stage the detail about why your application was unsuccessful is likely to be generic as the economics of recruitment simply do not allow a forensic discussion with every candidate.
AR Resourcing’s policy
At AR Resourcing we reply to all candidate applications we receive that are even a moderate fit for the role. However, we will not reply to applications that are entirely unrealistic, for example, because the skills are so far removed from those specified in the job description or because a candidate early on in their career is applying for a director level role… If the pay rise is more than 30% then consider whether the application is a sensible one!
If you would like specific feedback on your application or suitability for a role you are thinking of applying for, then please call us or email the relevant consultant and they’ll be happy to help. While, sadly, the economics of recruitment simply do not allow us to proactively call every candidate and provide a forensic discussion of every application, it is our policy to reply to every call or email asking for more information. Full consultant contact details are provided on our website for each job.
How do you identify the problem if you can’t get feedback?!??!?
If you aren’t getting feedback from your applications then it can be tempting to double down on the number of roles you are applying for. This is almost always a mistake. The chances are you will simply repeat any mistakes you might be making, resulting in the same outcome and, as your CV crosses a recruiter’s desk for the third or fourth time, they may start to subconsciously filter out your applications.
Instead, as a first step take some time to consider what you can change. The questions below are a good place to.
• Are you being realistic? A recruiter’s job is to identify the best candidates they can for a role and not, as some candidates think, to put every applicant forward for the role of their dreams irrespective of their suitability. There is also a reason that a job requirement states “10 years’ nuclear experience” or “large infrastructure experience” and recruiters will likely consider applications that don’t match the description as time wasters. Furthermore, if you have been wildly optimistic about your capabilities, recruiters may be concerned about the impact on their credibility of proposing you for roles that do meet your skillset or experience.
• Does your application do you justice? ‘Quality over quantity’ should be everyone’s job hunting mantra. Assuming six to eight candidates have tailored their applications to the job spec then you are unlikely to appear competitive if you submit a generic CV or covering letter, or your application is poorly written.
• Are you targeting the right recruitment companies? A big part of the reason that our clients value our service, is our inch wide, mile deep philosophy – we only recruit for procurement, supply chain and commercial roles for companies operating in construction related industries. Spending two minutes reviewing a recruitment company’s website should tell you if they are a good fit for your skills and aspirations. If they’re not, go to the jobs boards and identify a company that is before applying directly.
• Does the recruiter have a good prospect of placing you? In general, recruiters only get a fee if they successfully place a candidate. The more recruiters you are registered with, the lower their chances are of placing you. Rather than applying for every relevant role you see, identify 1-3 relevant recruiter(s) and send them each one targeted application, potentially referencing other roles they are advertising that interest you. Make them aware you are taking a selective approach and ask to speak with them.
• Is it worth applying speculatively? If your CV doesn’t directly relate to a role the recruitment company is actively working on then the team is unlikely to dedicate time to your job search at that moment. However, assuming your skills and experience are relevant to their specialism, they will likely add you to the CMS so that you will be on their radar for future opportunities. If you want feedback on your CV or the market generally, think about how you word your approach to them carefully, for example making it clear that you would appreciate a chance to discuss the current market and your skills.
• Would going exclusive make a difference? Candidates who offer themselves exclusively to one recruiter for a period of time can find it pays dividends. Exclusivity makes a big difference to that recruiter’s chances of securing the placement and so the recruiter will prioritise your job search. If you do consider this, then agree the length of the exclusivity with the recruiter and speak with them about what they will do in return – i.e. will they proactively contact certain companies? Will they provide a list every week of the companies they’ve approached about you? Etc.
This is the second part of my blog examining why candidates may experience the infuriating situation of recruiters not getting back to them. This part of the blog explores what to do if you’re registered with recruiters but are hearing nothing from them and what to do when a recruitment process goes quiet.
What if you’re registered but recruiters aren’t contacting you about roles
If you have registered with a recruitment company but you are not getting opportunities then try a couple of things.
• Speak with one of the recruiters – arrange a call with a recruiter specialising in your sector to set your expectations. Before the call ensure you know what you want to ask – for example: are there many roles out there for your skillset and experience at the moment? is there anything you can do to strengthen your CV? how often should you get in touch with the recruiter going forward or how often will they contact you? when was the last time they placed a candidate with experience similar to yours? Etc
Don’t try to register with multiple recruiters at the same company as they will work as a team, keeping one another informed of active roles, reviewing all candidates on the company CMS and asking one another for recommendations about relevant candidates.
• Be aware of the market – for junior to mid-level roles, keeping an eye on the jobs boards will typically give a good indication of whether or not organisations are currently recruiting for your skillset or experience. If there is activity and you are not getting calls then contact the recruiter(s) you have registered with to ask where your profile is falling short - don’t be satisfied with an answer that there were stronger candidates but push for detail about where your CV was weak etc so that you can look to strengthen it accordingly. If the market is quiet or you are looking for a specialist or senior level role then it is worth emailing your contact at the recruitment company once a month to remind them that you are still looking.
What if you started a process but it has gone quiet?
Once you have been shortlisted for a role, you should expect detailed feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of your application, and if relevant, interview(s) as well as updates on progress with the process. Recruiters will typically update you regularly, however sometimes it can go frustratingly quiet all of a sudden. The most common reasons for this are:
• The client isn’t providing the recruiter with the information they need – while the obvious answer would be for the recruiter to tell you that they are waiting for news, sometimes they may not know when they will hear, they don’t want to start a conversation without more information or they don’t want to make the client look bad.
• The recruiter is juggling competing priorities – a recruiter will always be juggling multiple processes and this may mean that they are not able to respond with the detail that they need to provide you with immediately. If you have made contact and not heard anything after 48 hours then chase again. Chasing by phone is not always best – an email will typically trigger an autorespond if they are on holiday. If they are away, then they or a colleague should nonetheless get back to you in a timely fashion.
If you are looking for a new procurement, supply chain or commercial role in the built environment sector then please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 174 6801.