Thursday, June 13, 2024

Dear Dave Column: Dealing With Unresponsive Recruiters

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Dear Dave,

Whatever happened to common courtesy a.k.a. professionalism when it comes to a search? I am pretty frustrated, not because I expect to get contacted for an interview each and every time, I know that is simply not reality, but at the very least, I do expect some acknowledgement of my response. After all, if the recruiter is looking for someone, and we go to the time and effort of responding, then a simple e-mail, even if it just said “thanks but no thanks,” doesn’t seem like a lot to ask does it?

I have had this happen (or maybe I should say not happen) enough now to know that it isn’t just me. Many of my friends tell me their experience is the same. A lot of the time, it is as if when I click “send” I might as well have sent a response to a deep black hole in space. I know ExecuNet has been around long enough for me not to be the first person to ask you about this, but since I haven’t heard the answer, how about one?


Doug W.

Dear Doug,
We certainly have been around long enough to have been asked about this many, many times, but to tell you the truth, it still rubs us (and a lot of our members) the wrong way. Indeed, in our annual member survey, which has been conducted for the past nine years, the lack of response and/or professionalism by recruiters is always one of the top complaints that members have.

Over the years, I have talked with many recruiters about this and they pretty much all say the same thing – at this stage of the game it’s about time and money. They (including recruiters for companies) agree there used to be a time many years ago when it was common practice to acknowledge every inquiry, even those that came in over the transom, but that was then and this is now. The volume, they say, was not as high and it was a different social culture.

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With the advent of e-mail, some firms are now starting to send acknowledgements via e-mail using auto responder software, which is essentially an electronic form letter that is sent back to the sender when an e-mail arrives. I suppose this is at least a step in the right direction, although having seen some of these, many are so poorly worded that if I were the firm I would be embarrassed to have our name on it, but at least they are the ones that are trying. My guess is that as the use of an auto responder is refined, we’ll see it become an accepted practice.

As the world has moved more and more to a transaction driven environment, a good many of the social protocols that once prevailed throughout the American business community have either disappeared or are hardly recognizable anymore.

Bottom line, while I can very much relate to your frustration, I am afraid that the practice of resume or correspondence acknowledgement has pretty much disappeared. For those in a job search, the key is to accept this as reality and not something that is directed at you on a personal level. There is enough in the process that is frustrating and this is one of the pieces over which you simply have no control. You don’t have to like it (and I don’t blame you), but recognize it for what it is and move on.



Dave Opton is CEO and Founder of ExecuNet, an online career services center for executives. For more information on executive career management visit Your private career questions can be sent to and they will be forwarded to Dave with all name and company information removed. Dave can’t answer each individually but look for yours in an upcoming column.

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