How to deal with recruiter ghosting as a developer

Rich Steinmetz
Rich Steinmetz
How to deal with recruiter ghosting as a developer

So, you have a call with a recruiter tomorrow. Congrats!

But there's no reason to be happy just yet! The guy might not show up. Then you've been haunted by Recruiter Ghosting 👻

Recruiter /rɪˈkruːtə/ noun - In this post, I mean any person who's currently involved in the process of talking to you, from the HR person, over the tech lead, up to the manager or CEO.

I've stopped counting the times where my developer friends and students were like:

"Rich, I've got a phone call tomorrow!🥳"

... tomorrow ...

"So how did it go?"

"They didn't call 😞"

The "lower" a position you are applying for, the higher the probability for that to happen.

However, there's no reason to feel sad either.

I don't want to state the obvious, but our recruitment system is far from perfect. Humans are involved. Ughh...

There are a million reasons a recruiter might not have called you:

  • they just forgot (information overload; notifications did not trigger; distracted by an urgent event at work)
  • they were on the go and connection got lost
  • their cat had a lethal fight with a mouse

Now, you have the right to be mad at them. As a developer, you could feel entitled to not be ghosted ever, A.K.A, who dares to ghost my mighty software developer majesty!?!?!?

Or your impostor-syndrome-you could tell yourself that you were not good or prepared enough for that meeting anyway.

Sometimes, you might also experience fear, especially before a technical interview, and you see this as an invitation to take the flight route (from your given "fight or flight" options).

Oooor, you could accept that this is part of the game. And create a pleasurable process around it for all parties involved. No hard feelings.

I used to be someone who just ghosts back sometimes, but on other occasions, I might have tried to get in touch with the ghosting person. But I didn't really have an established process around it and I probably chose whatever was the most comfortable at that moment.

However, I had an enlightenment one day. I've sat inside a Google meet call waiting for a guy who offered me a business mentoring session. After 10 minutes or so, I thought about ditching the call but not before I would shoot him an email. Then in my mailbox, I found a message from him:

"Still on?"

It turned out, somehow there were 2 Google meet rooms set up for the meeting and we each sat in a different one, waiting for each other. There are a million reasons...

But there it was, a very short message at exactly 10 minutes after the scheduled time. It was just a 2 word phrase but it's basically saying, "we had a time set up but you didn't show up. I understand that life can get into the way sometimes, but I'd still love to hear from you if all's good" (I'm putting a lot into 2 words those, I know :D but knowing the guy a bit, I feel like that's what he meant).

It's so much easier for the person to reconnect with you after you've made an effort to reconnect with them. It also shows that you are a professional and that you care.

So here's your recipe:

  1. Wait for 10 minutes (play ping pong or something)
  2. Get your "Still on?"-message out (you don't have to be that cool but with more words, depending on how cool you are ;))
  3. Wait another 5 minutes (listen to your favorite song)
  4. This will depend on the situation but I can think of 3 options right now:

-- 4.a) if you have the phone number, call them

-- 4.b) otherwise, you could shoot out another message, like: "Hope all's well, let's try another day"

--- 4.c) if you had a bad feeling with that company anyway, you could also leave it there and do nothing for now

Mind that the process itself is not developer-specific. Developer-specific could be some of the feelings described above. Those feelings could stop you from taking some of the steps. Recognizing them, rethinking them, and reusing them in your favor can go a long way.

In the end, if you just ghost back, you are basically saying "f*** this, I don't need that s***". Thus, you are maybe missing an opportunity to get the job, to show your professionality and to practice the recruitment dance 💃 Just keep in mind: Recruiters are not only "just human" (like you) but most of them are also awesome human beings (like you ;)!



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