Do you believe in ghosts? What to do when recruiters go silent

content ghost sheet

Waiting to hear back about whether a job application was successful is tough. It makes you edgy and distracted, you’re constantly checking your inbox and picking up your phone to see if you’ve missed a call, even though it’s set to full volume and max vibrate.

Then after a while, it starts to feel like you’re being ‘ghosted’, or in other words, ignored.

This isn’t too common when applying for a job directly with a company. Usually a job advert will say only successful candidates will be contacted. And for post-interview advice, watch this video about what to do after an interview and read this about writing a follow up email.

Feeling ghosted is more likely to happen when you’ve been in touch with a professional recruiter hired by a company to fill a role. Here’s why it happens and how to deal with it.

Why do recruiters sometimes seem to vanish?

Unfortunately, being ghosted by recruiters can happen during job hunts. But there are reasons for this:

Recruiters are busy

This may not seem like a good enough reason – we’re all busy – but recruitment is a high pressure sector. Recruiters live by their successful placements and strong relationships with clients. They often simply do not have time to offer feedback to unsuccessful candidates. 

Recruiters are middlemen

As middlemen between candidates and hiring companies, they’re not necessarily equipped to tell you why you weren’t successful for a certain role with a specific company, or to offer you specific feedback.

Client demands

Recruiters are beholden to their clients who can change what they’re looking for, simply remove roles or stop recruiting altogether.

It’s a waiting game

Recruiters are nearly always waiting too. Waiting to hear back from clients, while you’re waiting to hear from them.

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How to manage the relationship

Make yourself attractive to employers

If you can convince a recruiter that you’re hot property, they’ll be more likely to make an effort to place you - after all, if you take a role through them, you both win. Do this by being qualified, and having relevant experience and skillsets, and…

…speak a recruiter’s language

Be aware of the recruitment market, the in-demand skills, the sectors and companies with talent shortages, the ones struggling to fill certain roles – speak a recruiter’s language, help them plug the gaps in the market.

Make contact

Don’t chase or hound a recruiter. When sufficient time has passed without hearing from them, over a polite email or a quick call ask what’s going on with your application and reiterate how keen you are to take the role and how valuable you’d be to the company.


If you didn’t get a role, ask the recruiter for feedback under the guise that you’re really hoping to improve and to understand what you could be doing to make yourself more employable. This determination and willingness to improve will also help keep you in their minds for future roles.

Onwards and upwards

Being ghosted is unpleasant. It hinders your job search, it can get your hopes up just to dash them, and leave you feeling unconfident and unsure of yourself. 

But you need to look at the big picture – more often than not, it was one encounter with one recruiter for one job. A job search should not put all its eggs in one basket. While you’re going through a recruiter for one role, you should be working several other recruiters too, while also using job boards, and going to your network

A job search is a multi-layered effort, which sounds ominous, but if you actively search through various avenues, keep all your options open, you’re more likely to find the right path. And it keeps you too busy to be eagerly awaiting that one call or email from that one recruiter. 

Until you’ve signed a new contract with your new employer, the job search is still on.

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