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Busy Candidate Recruiter Calls

How Did This Recruiter Find Me? 

Recruiter: “Hello Candidate, this is Jonathon Palmieri, executive recruiter.  I would love to touch base with you about an exciting new opportunity with XYZ Corp. How receptive are you to a career change?”

Candidate: “This is my work number… how did you even get my number…. Please don’t call here again!”


Odds are you have been on one end of this conversation. Whether you are a candidate or a recruiter, this conversation is a particularly annoying one. This recruiting call is not uncommon, but always leaves the recruiter and the candidate feeling uneasy. The recruiter’s  frustration boils down to “Why wouldn’t this potential candidate even want to hear about this opportunity?”   On the flip side, the candidate’s frustration oozes into insecurity and a feelings of intrusion.

In my early days as a recruiter, I would defend the candidate; following the logic that their managers could retaliate, and that they may be avoiding speaking in front of their coworkers.  The longer I recruited, the more I realized this line of thinking is seriously flawed. There are plenty of candidates whose managers know they are looking, and just as many who give their coworkers as candidate referrals. These people always seemed to have the healthiest relationships with their managers and coworkers. To circumvent this situation, I would invest the time to manually follow up with an email, LinkedIn message, and whatever other means I could contact the candidate. The response rate was a lot higher than a cold message. I was pleasantly surprised by how many people would follow up to hear more about the opportunity. Sometimes the candidate would instantaneously respond.

These job market realities, almost mockingly, threw out my initial theory.  I  researched and polled recruiters, candidates, and hiring managers about the topic.  It became clear that the problem was more about the volume and quality of contact recruiters were having with candidates.  The fault was part with the recruiter, part with the candidate, but the lion’s share belonged to the industry.

Blame recruiters….

Recruiting agencies and corporate recruiters spend thousands and thousands of dollars on resources to reach quality candidates. These range from: job board postings, internal job board systems, applicant tracking systems, and various other tracking and marketing tools. You’ll find the same tools in a sales professional’s arsenal. Yes, recruiters are sales professionals. They sell companies, career opportunities, and their services.  Similarly, sales professionals marketing campaigns often equal large expenditures that return small, inconsistent results.  The alternative, for less time and money, is paying a recruiter to cold call a list of candidates that can do the job. How do you know they can do the job? Well, because they are already doing the job, or a similar one, with a different company. The next step is contacting the candidate. But! where will candidates be most of their waking day, with a computer and a phone? That’s right: the candidate is at work.  Good recruiters will do the research and attempt to reach someone by other means, but there only so much effort can be reasonably expected.

Unhappy Panel Interviewed candidate

Now let’s blame the candidates:

Candidates say “How did this recruiter get my direct number?”, but what they should say is; “I can’t talk now, couldn’t you reach me another way?”. In 2017 people should not be mystified by how their number was found. Even if you’re a part of the generation that wasn’t immersed in technology you’ll remember a thing called a phone book. Your number is out there; if you don’t want it to be, I recommend searching for your number, and looking at your social media profiles. Past that I recommend reading some cyber security articles on protecting personal data. But the best thing, the thing a true professional would do, is put their information up on job boards, LinkedIn and the like when they are looking and take it off when they are not open to new career opportunities.

My advice for a candidate who is still being spammed by recruiters: contact the recruiter. They could be a bad recruiter, or it could be a bug of the applicant tracking systems the recruiter is using. Things will not change unless you take action. Ignoring it wastes everyone’s time.

If candidates make their interests, qualifications, and timeline clear, then recruiters, j ob boards and business directories can align the right candidates with the appropriate career opportunities.  Minimizing the spam and maximizing the return will also take the efforts of recruiters, job boards, and business directory services. With an under 5% unemployment, and an extreme lack of skilled labor, the influx of recruiters is not going anywhere.

If you would like more information, please reach out to me at or

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