What to do when a recruiter ‘ghosts’ on you

If you’ve ever waited for your phone to ring or refreshed your inbox hoping to hear about a job, only to be met with silence, you’ll know how disheartening it can feel to be ‘ghosted’.

When you’re being considered for a job, sometimes you’ll communicate with that business directly, and deal with a hiring manager or HR professional. In that case, read about what to do if you’re not hearing back.

But other times, you’ll be in touch with a recruiter the business has hired to fill the role. So, if you’re dealing with a recruiter who goes silent, what can you do?

Here’s why it happens, how to encourage a response and how to boost your confidence to move forward.

Why do recruiters sometimes go silent?

While it doesn’t make it right, unfortunately being ghosted by a recruiter can be common during a job search. HR Professional Tanya Southey and Career Coach and founder of Careerists, Thai Ngo explain some of the reasons a recruiter may go silent:

  • Something changed
    It’s quite common for a recruiter’s clients to change what they are looking for or remove the role altogether, Southey says. While some will let you know, others may not – recruitment is a high-pressure field and providing feedback for a position they’re no longer looking to fill falls down the priority list.
  • They’re waiting too
    It may be that they have no news to share. “As a former recruiter, I know sometimes recruiters ghost because they are also awaiting an answer from the client – they are the middle man between the company’s HR and the applicants,” Ngo says.
  • No time
    Ngo says ghosting behaviour can be due to recruiters simply not having the time to provide feedback to every applicant, and the fact that many recruiters simply aren’t equipped to be able to provide constructive and valuable feedback.

What can you do about it?

  • Make contact
    If it’s past the date you expected to hear back from the recruiter or communication has stopped entirely, it’s worth sending a short email to find out what’s happening with the role. For example:

    Hi [Name]

    I hope you’re well. I’m checking in on the [Job title] role. Are you able to share an update? I’m excited about the opportunity to join [Company name], and I’m confident that my experience would be an asset to them.
    Please let me know if there’s anything else I can provide to assist.

    Thank you,
    [Your name]

    Otherwise, it’s worth making a quick phone call to the recruiter, asking in a similar way to the above email. A phone call is best if your email doesn’t prompt a response, too.
  • Ask for feedback
    If it turns out that the role has been filled or you’re no longer in the running, getting feedback can help you to move forward, so pursue it as best you can. A quick phone call is a good option here, Southey says. “Try asking for feedback in a way that recruiters would find harder to resist – for example, ‘I’m really trying to improve my job seeking game, so if you had time to give me one thing you’d suggest I work on, I’d really appreciate it,’” she says.

Moving on post-ghosting

There’s no denying that being ghosted for a job you were interested in can be frustrating – and it can dent your confidence. Acknowledging that you got this far is just one small way to help you build confidence again before moving forward. Ngo points out most jobs have many, many applicants, so if you’ve made to the interview stage, this is something to pat yourself on the back for.

Southey suggests making use of your networks here. “If you have a great mentor, or former colleagues that can remind you of your strengths and help you identify areas to work on, make use of them and ask for feedback and support.”

And if it’s happened one time too many, consider these 10 ways to boost your job search or some one-on-one time with a career coach. Ngo says the relevant experience and education is your step in the door, but it’s what you uniquely bring to the table that gets most successful people over the line, and many of us don’t always know what this is. A career coach can help you identify it.

The most important thing to remember if you have been ghosted is that it doesn’t necessarily mean you weren’t a great applicant; it could be that the job changed or that you missed out by a sliver. Once you’ve looked for answers, shifting your focus to how you can best stand out for the next opportunity can help you to move forward and get closer to landing the right role for you.

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