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Recruiters’ silence after interviews not rudeness

DEAR J.T. & DALE: Why do recruiters go silent? The last three jobs I applied to, I got a call and did a phone screen. They said they’d be in touch with the next steps. Weeks passed and nothing. I tried emailing and calling, but they never responded. Why are they so rude? – Rhett

Dale: There was a time when I would share your indignation, but that changed when J.T. offered an analogy, one I’d like her to repeat.

J.T.: No problem. Many recruiters don’t see working with prospective employees as a two-way partnership. Instead, they act as someone who is buying services, and during the interview phase they are just scouting out the best vendors. I know it is frustrating to not hear back after you invest time and energy in an interview with a company, but you have to think of yourself as a business of one who is marketing your services. Not every potential customer is going to buy, and you shouldn’t expect every customer to call you up to let you know they aren’t going to buy. So all that brings us to the analogy that Dale likes: Say you are buying a new computer and you go to several stores and talk to several salespeople. Once you make your decision, are you going to call each person you are not buying from and explain why?

Dale: Think that way, and you don’t expect to hear back. The recruiter moves on; you move on. Still, don’t just mentally walk away. You let the recruiter know in an email or voicemail that you assume the job has been filled, but that you appreciate being considered and would welcome other inquiries.

J.T.: Plus, while the norm seems to be to just ignore applicants who aren’t being moved ahead, I have found that the very best recruiters do take the time to give candidates feedback, even if it’s bad news. So, perhaps the companies that you’re speaking with aren’t the best quality companies because they aren’t hiring the best quality recruiters.

Dale: Speaking of feedback, that’s one of the biggest issues of a job search – the Big Silence from employers makes it difficult to know how to get better at searching. So, Rhett, given that this has happened three times, you might want to work at upping your game when it comes to phone interviews. You know you have a bang-on résumé because you’re getting calls, but you’re getting stuck at the first phase of interviewing. This might just be coincidence, but then again, you want to always be working at getting better. See if you can find friends who’ll do some mock interviews with you. Or consider a career coach. Make sure that your interview skills are as good as your résumé.

Dear J.T. & Dale: I want to find a new job, but have a big trip planned for October. Should I wait to start looking? I don’t want to miss my trip, and I’m worried a new employer might not want me to go. – Camille

Dale: Do not wait. Nearly all waiting to start a job search is merely making excuses while holding a calendar. What’s the worst that could happen? You get an offer from someone who must have a new hire who starts in September and you turn it down. However, by the time you got back, that job would have been gone anyway.

J.T.: At best it will take you a month or two to find a new job. At best. The average job search in America is four to nine months. So, I would start looking. If you do get offered a job before you leave on your trip, I’d tell the employer about the pre-existing travel at the time they make the offer and confirm it’s OK for you to go. Usually, if you are the chosen candidate, they are willing to work around your previously planned vacation time.

Dale: And when that happens, you can truly enjoy your vacation knowing a new job is waiting for you.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with Please visit them at, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.