Decoding Recruiter Language: Is It Time To Move On?

A recruiter reached out to you. You got very excited, you went to their office in your usual confident and highly-polished (though at times a bit nervous) self, you filled out the forms which, by the way, took  hours and went through the interviews. One, maybe two or three.

Then you stopped hearing from the recruiter. Was it comparable to dead air? A pregnant pause? deafening silence? Or was s/he sucked in by the black hole? Oh, perhaps they are just processing several applicants. Maybe they just wanted to make sure that I am the best candidate for the role. Maybe this Company really takes time in finding the best talent.

Can you relate? I know, I know. Sometimes, it seems as though recruiters have a language that only they (or we?) know.

One of my close friends once asked me, “Emile, how come some recruiters don’t give update on the final decision on whether or not you made it?” While there were cues and signs; it was also easy to agree that the candidates don’t always get a clear closure from some recruiters.

In a coffee shop the other day I overheard two friends talking – one asked about the other’s application to a company in Bonifacio Global City. The other responded, “I don’t know, I haven’t heard from the recruiter after the phone interview. She said she’d call but I don’t know when.” There was a smirk on her face and disappointed in her tone. She said it has been three weeks and she always anticipated the call.

Let me share some of the phrases that’s often used by recruiters which means it’s time to move on. By “move on”, we mean to stop waiting and continue looking for other opportunities.

It’s Time To Move On When They Say:

  • Thank you, I’ll give you a call for an update.
  • I will call you again when you’re shortlisted.
  • Let’s stay in close touch.
  • I would be happy to work on your behalf again.
  • We’ll let you know the result of the interview.
  • We are still in the process of reviewing all applications submitted for this role. We will call you once we are done and let you know if you have been shortlisted.
  • We will keep your profile in our active list and will call you if there’s a better fit.

Did  you see the pattern? They are mostly non-committal, vague and not time-bound. It could be said in many different ways but if it is non-committal, vague and with not time-bound, move on.

A Few More Thoughts:

  • Truly shortlisted candidates are kept warm; to keep warm means to constantly be in touch with this person and keep him/her updated on the hiring process or interviewer availability or so.
  • Should you reach the interview with the hiring manager, know that at this point, you will have clues on whether or not they are interested in pursuing your application. If after sometime in your conversation, the hiring manager starts talking about, “you know we are looking for someone with this and that skill for this job…” would generally mean that s/he did not see this in you…
  • Interviews lasting longer than scheduled time generally means interest was stirred, there a chance of getting the job, while interviews lasting only around 15 minutes, may mean start moving on. A hiring manager would want the best person for the job and will want to make sure that if you stirred interest, that you are the one.
  • Recruiters mostly work based on a logged demand (an open position) and they also have a turn-around time or a service-level agreement which could be 30 days for entry level to mid-level employees and 60-90 days for managerial/executive level and 120-150 days for hard-to-find skills. So, recruiters are almost always in a hurry. Not hearing from them for about 2 weeks means it’s time to move on.

I’m not sure why some would end up not giving a straight, upfront update (I think at some point I was also guilty of this and I think this calls for another article, watch out for it!). There could be many reasons why, but I’m 100% sure that no recruiter wakes up to say, “today, I will leave my candidates hanging, bwahahahaha!”

Know that this is not always the case, there are recruiters who give feedback right after the first interview or at any point when they decided not to pursue you. Many companies now have systems in place to assist in ensuring all applicants got feedback.

If your recruiter stops reaching out to you, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. There are several other recruiters and several other Companies out there. If you did not make it, it only means that this is not the best fit job and not the best fit Company for you. Please, do not be disheartened. One day, you’ll land a job that’s perfect for you! 🙂

Btw, visit also my blog on the Three Questions To Ask Your Prospective Employer, if you happen to be in the interview phase.

All the best and may you find meaning in your job application journey.

Thank you for visiting again and feel free to drop a note on your thoughts and maybe a sharing on your application journey. I’d be thrilled to hear from you.

I hope this helped. Feel free to share this blog post, like and “Follow” us in these sites:

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About Emile Therese

Emile Therese is a graduate of the University of Philippines in Diliman with a degree in Psychology. She is happily married. She and her husband, Dennis, are blessed with one amazing daughter (and hopefully at least one more child). She believes that values and character ought to be taught as early as possible and that these are key to community and nation building. This was also how she and her siblings were brought up by their two awesome parents! She is a Certified HR Professional who advocates employee engagement in its entirety. Emile believes that true employee engagement rests on the pillars of basic human needs and in ensuring that process and leadership basics are in place - the employee engagement imperatives. She hopes to contribute to making this world a better place for all of us now and the next generation. She loves sipping tea, conversations, reading and writing. The latter gave birth to two blogs - Purposeful Parenting Journey (purposefulparentingjourney.com) and Engagement Imperative (engagementimperative.com).

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