A Reply! Recruiters, You Don’t Have A Right To One.

by | Jun 15, 2022

Recruiters, prospects don’t have to reply.

Earlier this week, I had a lovely message exchange with a reader of The Robot-Proof Recruiter, asking whether it’s wise to post about candidates ghosting during the interview process. And I said, ‘No!’ No matter the frustration, it’s part of the job. All recruiters can do is look to minimise it.

And then another recruiter, complaining that prospects don’t reply to messages, called me rude and condescending because I asked in reply,

‘What makes you feel that ‘prospects’ owe you their irreplaceable time replying? Do you answer all* the emails you get that are irrelevant or untimely? I bet you don’t. And if you’re talking InMails, LinkedIn may suggest all people on there are ‘open to opportunities’ but they’re not!’

* reply to all – not just recruiter emails.

This is one of two newsletters to address these. Be sure to subscribe for part 2. 👇🏻

While you may think your one message deserves a reply, it is likely one of countless that they received that week or even that day. And you may have sent it here on LinkedIn where people, especially those with skills that are in demand, rarely venture because they dread wading through an inbox full of irrelevant recruiter messages.

Search ‘recruiter spam’ on Twitter. It took seconds to see a Tweet about this!

A tweet about recruiter spam

And this:

Tweet about recruiter spam

And think of the time Don wastes wading through the spam to get to ‘the second type’. ⏳

Tweet about sifting spam to get to good recruiter outreach

To regular readers this article might sound similar to A ‘Candidate’s’ Time Is A Precious Gift!, and it’s definitely worth a revisit to clarify what is and is not a candidate, but here I hope to help you increase response rates and reduce candidate ghosting in part 2. (29th) 🤞🏻




What does ‘no reply’ mean?

In retrospect, I probably deserved to be called condescending because I was thinking how arrogant the post sounded as I typed my reply to, “Imagine messaging over 100 people for a job only for a dozen of them to have the decency/kindness to reply even if it’s a no!!”

Inferring that people that don’t reply are not decent or unkind is a strange attitude to have as a recruiter. Because those recruiters who actively source or message via LinkedIn recruiter, spend most of their time approaching people who are unlikely to be looking for a new job right then (even if LinkedIn & ‘influencers’ state otherwise) so the recipient has nothing to gain by replying.

And these same prospects are unlikely to care that you think poorly of them or think they’re missing out on some ‘hot job’ or ‘amazing opportunity’. If they knew their lack of reply evoked so much emotion, they’d probably be as fascinated as I am by all the wasted energy.

Because ‘no reply’ can mean so many different things, like:

  • They could be ill. If they’re using their energy to fight long Covid or cancer, for example, replying won’t be a priority.
  • They could be dead. I know several people who have passed who still have a LI profile.
  • They could be grieving a recent loss or be dealing with a mental health issue.
  • They may have thought it looked interesting but work piled in, and your InMail/email is lost in their overloaded inbox. (Be sure to follow up – see page 146)
  • The recipient is amongst the 60% who don’t log into LinkedIn each month. Only 310 million log in each month, which is just 6.2% of the 5 billion Internet users.
  • The recipient turned off all emails that forward from LinkedIn and hasn’t logged in.
  • It went into the spam folder (and when many recruiters don’t even check their own! 🙄)
  • They didn’t like the tone or ‘me, me, me’ of your message.
  • The message was irrelevant and clearly showed you’d not read their profile.
  • Their name was misspelled or not used (this and more were in my last article)
  • They looked at where you work and thought, ‘Yeah, no!’.
  • They looked at your profile and didn’t feel confident of your knowledge in their area of expertise.
  • The answer is no because ‘no reply is a reply’.
  • The person is under-qualified or overqualified and frustrated that you didn’t see that obvious truth on their LinkedIn profile. Please read Debbie Levitt’s helpful post in full here but here are some useful snippets:
example post of why someone won't reply
example post of why someone won't reply

I made no effort to find this post – it simply appeared in my feed. But it’s 2022 and still people are asking recruiters to look at profiles before they message. 😬

And, wow! I just realised I could go on and on and on and on with reasons for a ‘no reply’. But all of the reasons you don’t reply to messages apply here too. And please don’t pretend that you reply to all* messages, because your spam folder says otherwise. 😉

But you get the idea. It’s truly unlikely that the recipient thought, ‘You know what, I am not decent or unkind so I will not reply to this recruiter.’


How to get more replies from ‘prospects’

To clarify, a prospect is someone you have identified as a potential candidate for your role. And the prospect owes you nothing, especially in this current hiring market.

But you might get more replies if you do the following:

  • Start with a thorough intake strategy session with your hiring manager. In Chapter 5 you’ll hear wisdom from Steve Levy, Maisha Cannon & Tangie Pettis to ensure it’s great.
  • Using this rich & unique information, send fewer high-quality hyper-personalised messages, on the right platform. Even consider asking your HM to contact them or using video messages. You want yours to land where they’ll see it, not amongst the spam.
  • Don’t talk about a specific job because if they’re not looking right now, they’ll think no and you won’t get a reply, which is their way of saving time & saying a no. Instead ask, “In an ideal world, where would you go next? What would you love to work on?” or similar. Open questions are more likely to evoke a response. 🤞🏻
  • If you got their attention, it is important to look worthy of someone’s time. See Chapter 2, where I talk about the reasons why and how you can optimise your profiles to instil trust and confidence that you will take care of their career and irreplaceable time.
  • And be sure to share valuable updates, things that are useful to candidates, so you look knowledgable and even more worthy of someone’s time.
  • If you are in HR or talent acquisition, how does your company scrub up? Is its reputation putting people off? Check what they’re saying in Glassdoor Interview reviews and the like, or Recruiting Hell or Reddit. Because ‘being an employer of choice’ means nothing if social media and reviews paint a different picture.
  • Be known as a company/recruiter that never ghosts and delivers feedback. Join The Circle Back Initiative or the #EndGhosting Campaign, don’t be one of the people leaving candidates down or depressed.

Think that is #RantOver for now. As ever, add anything I’ve missed in the comments.

In Part 2, I’ll address ways to reduce candidate ghosting. So be sure to subscribe if you feel it will help. I’ll publish it on June 29th.

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P. S. The Robot-Proof Recruiter, was enriched by the expertise of 74 of your peers and I donated my royalties to Hope for Justice charity, who aim to end modern-day slavery impacting over 40 million people worldwide. 💜

P.P.S. Edition 2 is available to pre-order on Amazon et al! Its royalties will also be donated to Hope for Justice 🧡


Originally posted on LinkedIn in the Recruitment Isn’t Broken newsletter. For more, be sure to subscribe below, grab Edition 2 of The Robot-Proof Recruiter, check out The Collective, and listen to The Hiring-Partner Perspective.


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