What To Do if You Think a Recruiter Has Ghosted You
You had a great first interview, but all lines of communication have gone silent. What now?
One of the most challenging parts of the job search is waiting for a response from a company after applying for a position. It’s one thing for candidates to submit applications into the void and never hear back – but what should you do if you are in the middle of the recruitment process and the recruiter you were corresponding with has gone silent?
In recent years, job candidates have started referring to this phenomenon as “ghosting,” taking a cue from the term that means to end a relationship with someone by suddenly and unexpectedly cutting off all forms of communication. If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve been talking to a recruiter about a job and you think you’re being ghosted, there are still some things you can do to reopen the lines of communication or get more clarity around the hiring process. Start by following these steps.
Proactively ask about the timeline
After you’ve started talking with a recruiter, it’s reasonable to ask how long the typical process takes or when you could expect to hear back either way. In fact, asking about next steps in the process is one of our recommended questions to ask during your initial phone screen. Getting a clear idea of the timeline is especially important before you get invited to an in-person interview, since it might require transportation or travel arrangements that would need to be made in advance. In addition, at the end of your job interview you should ask when you can expect to hear back about the company’s final decision. Keep in mind that when you ask about the timeline, recruiters might respond with a specific date, a length of time (“about two weeks”), or a general time of the month (“around mid-February”).
Check for any indication of timelines
Suppose you forgot to ask about the timeline during your most recent conversation with the recruiter. The next step is to do some research on your own. Does the company’s website have a timeline of the typical application process? Did a recruiter mention in an email how long their process typically takes? If so, that information should determine your course of action. If the timeline said it would take two weeks to hear back, don’t start sending emails after only one week has passed.
Give them the benefit of the doubt
If it’s been only a week since you’ve heard from the recruiter, or a day or two beyond the initial timeline they provided, don’t assume they won’t get back to you or that there’s a problem with your candidacy. There are plenty of reasons why it’s taking some time for a recruiter longer than normal to respond with next steps in the job application process. It might be the case that the recruiter (or their boss) is on vacation or out sick, so the process can’t move forward yet. The recruiter might also be busy with visiting campuses and still needs to catch up on candidates already in the pipeline. Or maybe an urgent project came up and that’s monopolizing the recruiter’s attention for now. Regardless, take a deep breath and wait it out for a few more days.
Follow up in an email
Conversely, if the timeline mentioned one week between stages and it’s now been two weeks, then it’s probably time to reach out. There’s no reason to spam the hiring manager’s inbox or leave a voicemail at the office, but you can send a quick email asking for an update. Here’s a simple and respectful way to do it:
Dear (insert recruiter’s name),
Hope you’ve been well! I really enjoyed our last chat about the (insert job title) position, especially (insert something specific that you talked about). I am still very interested in the role and think it would be a great fit. Do you have any updates on the next steps in the process?
A quick, polite email serves as a gentle tap on the shoulder to remind the recruiter that you are still interested in the role. Sometimes a brief reminder is all it takes to get the conversation flowing again.
Suppose you’ve already asked about the timeline and sent a follow up email (or two, spaced out at least a week apart), but still haven’t received a response. That probably indicates that there’s no need to keep reaching out to the recruiter to request an update. Even if the company is your dream job, don’t wait around to hear back when you could be applying for other roles. It might even be the case that the company will get back to you later on, and you might be in the lucky position of having multiple job offers to choose from! Whether or not the company gets back to you eventually, keep in mind that you should always be respectful in your communications, and avoid posting any complaints about the company to your public profiles.
Even if you’ve been ghosted by a recruiter at one company, remember that there will be another recruiter and company who will be eager to hire you. Keep searching until you find that perfect fit!