What's taking recruiters so long?

Posted by Amanda Augustine

August 07, 2012 @ 11:17 PM

Q: When submitting a resume and applying for a job, why does it take so long before you hear any status or update? - Bev L.

TheLadders_Skippy_TimeA: Bev, quick question – for the recruiters who typically take a long time to get back, is it to tell you bad news? In that case, you’re actually lucky they’re responding at all!

Typically, recruiters will be responsive when they want to move forward with your candidacy. However, if you’re not the right fit for the job to which you applied, or they don’t have an open job posting right now for which you’re perfect, you probably won’t hear from them.

Fair or not, in the recruiting world, you are not the customer. The company filling the role – the person who pays their paychecks – is. And, as a result, that’s the person for whom they will be responsive. So, for one, don’t take it personally – it has nothing to do with you, in particular. That’s just how it works.Now, if you’re already interviewing with the company, a few things could be going on:

Situation 1

You met with two people at the company and they love you, but the last person who has to sign off on the hire is on vacation, which can drag out the process ad nauseum. Unfortunately, this is common, especially during this time of year.

Situation 2

The pool of candidates has been whittled down to you and one other candidate, and the team is still debating which of you the better profile for the job is. This, too, is common, especially if the position is newly created or the existing team has recently changed players.

In both of these situations, the recruiter is really at the mercy of the hiring manager and his/her team. The best thing you can do is to ask for their decision-making timeline at the end of your interview so you know when to follow up again.

To avoid some of these “black-hole” situations with job applications, here are three things you can do:

Make sure you meet all of the must-have requirements in the job description. This isn’t horse shoes – you can’t “kind of” meet “almost” all the requirements – that’s a waste of your time…and the recruiter’s. Nothing effective will come from it.

Tailor your resume and cover letter so that your qualifications are obvious.Recruiters are incredibly busy and only quickly scan resumes (six seconds!) before putting you in the “nope” vs. “deserves-a-closer-look” pile. If you’re unsure if your resume and cover letter clearly illustrates how you meet the requirements, hand them over to a friend with a copy of the job description. It actually helps if the person is not in your line of work. If your qualifications aren’t easy for this person to identify, then you know it’s not clear enough. Take the specific key terms you see in the job description and incorporate them verbatim in the resume and cover letter, wherever possible. This will help you make it past any initial resume screenings done by recruiting software or the most entry-level HR coordinator with no knowledge of your type of work. 

Before you apply, check to see if you know anyone who currently works at the company. Contact them and try to get their endorsement. You might be able to put the person’s name in the online application. And, sometimes, this will expedite your application ahead of others. Many companies prize their employee referrals, as it’s assumed the employee would only refer someone who is a good cultural fit (very important!).

AmandaAugustine_JobSearchExpert_TheLadders_1-1Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow her at @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.


Topics: Ask Amanda, Working with Recruiters, Job Application & Follow Up