No one likes to be ignored, least of all when it matters most. So why do job seekers get so few replies from recruiters?

Resumes down the drain?

Resumes down the drain?

Dear recruiters of the world,

Job seekers are tired.

  • Tired of spending hours sending you resumes only to never get a response.
  • Tired of having their hopes dashed daily as they continue what seems like an endless job search to nowhere.
  • Tired of getting phone calls years later with job offers that are no longer meaningful to them years later.
  • Tired of believing you can help and never feeling it happen.

The thing is, I know you want to help and can, and not just because you too have all been job seekers in the past.

  • I know you receive never-ending streams of email and resumes and faxes and cover letters and followups and phone calls and snail mail from job seekers.
  • I know that every applicant feels they are perfect for the job cited or any other opening you might have and can't understand why that's not the case.
  • I know that for every resume you receive and every candidate who calls, you rarely have a matching opening in your database at that moment in time when the job seeker is hoping for it most.

Job seekers need to know why recruiters are not calling them back.

So let's end this communications failure.

Let's end this disconnect.

Here's how I'm going to help you do it.

Presenting the Bona Fide Recruiter's Email Auto-response

From now on, use the following message as an automatic email response to every new resume you receive from prospective job inquirers:

Dear [candidate's name],

Thank you for your email. We sincerely appreciate you taking the time to contact us here at [company name].

Your resume will go into our database where our systems will look for matches with open positions and future openings as they arrive. We will contact you if a match is found and *only* when a match is found, and we're not just saying that. We succeed when you find work with us, so we're hoping for a match as soon as possible just like you are.

Due to the number of resumes we receive and the changing nature of our clients' needs, it can take a surprisingly long time for your resume to appear among the best matches for a position. And the only thing you can do to keep your chances high for a match is to make sure we always have an updated copy of your resume. We wish the process was easier for you but we prefer that you know the truth to keep your expectations realistic.

Before we let you go, here's a read that makes us laugh and hopefully you will too:

Good luck with your job search,

[recruiter signature]

But will you use it?

If you have integrity as a professional recruiter, you'll use this message or some variation of it.


Since your clients only pay you when a candidate is found or hired, it's in your best interests to stay on good terms with as many candidates as possible in case you need them later, and this email does that with its memoriable openness and brutal honesty. You will also distinguish yourself positively by following this best practice.

Become a Bona Fide Recruiter

If you do decide to use this auto-responder message, please tell me so in the comments below and I'll add you to a Bona Fide Recruiters list that I'll be compiling for everyone to see. And if you won't use it, can you tell us why? Do you have other suggestions?

Warmest regards,

Jacob Share

Looking for first contact? Subscribe to JobMob via RSS or email and follow me on Twitter to bridge the communications gap between you and your next job.

Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. Alan Wilensky

    This is baloney. Recruiting has changed from a personal contact business where professionals are personally represented by a knowledgeable recruiter, to a numbers game driven by Google Harvesting.

    I get numerous urgent requests from these horrible so called recruiters stating that:

    1) They found my CV on-line and have an IMMEDIATE NEED for someone with my quals. Would I please send them my resume. IF they found my CV on-line, why are they asking for my resume?

    2) 98& of the time, they are recruiting for something that has nothing to do with my experience or quals. Some out of place search term got me on their radar. It is almost always a waste of my time to deal with these robot recruiters.

    3) On the rare occasion where they have me properly positioned as to quals, I have barely ever heard back from the actual hiring manager. The recruiter almost never reads and digests my CV, let alone my ample portfolio which is available on-line. I know they can’t read the whole corpus, but just a skim would show them exactly what sector I specialize in as a product strategy analyst.

    4) I now only work one-on-one with recruiters that know me, my experience, quals, and sector. I will no longer respond to emails. If they pick-up the phone and call me, they better have a clue of what is contained in my CV, and what is important to the sector I serve (B2B Web apps strategy).

    5) In general, the bad recruiters can bite me.

  2. Bar Jobs

    Perhaps a more to the point “Tired of filling out 12 page form on 3rd party recruitment software for a specific job only to get called 2yrs later for some unrelated job” This software used by large companies today is aka, the CV black hole. I often ask recruiters what is the last job listed on my CV, just so I have an idea where/when they got my CV. To the recruiters defense on such blind submissions, you never know what the status is of the job you’re applying for, or if they are just posting it because they have to, but already have a candidate they’re planning to hire.

    That said, I do think these systems are useless most of the time. Recently I submitted my CV to a company’s outsourced “talent management system”, I got no response. I then spend some time researching connections on LinkedIn, turned out I had a friend of a friend who worked there, and did an internal referral. I got a call two days later, and no mention of the other CV I submitted. Networking 1, crappy recruitment software 0.

    The letter you wrote would be nice, but it sounds like something for a recruitment agency or head hunter, where relationships matter more.

    So in short, skip the recruiters, and do some networking, or better yet, do some networking with recruiters (if you can) and find out who they know. You’d be surprised what you can find in their fat contact books.

    Alan’s first point is probably valid for him, given his very specific expertise. If a recruiter says they found your resume online, and ask you to submit it, it’s because there are so many ways now days for people to find it, and it’s nearly impossible to keep them all up to day. Also, think of it as a free opportunity to customize your CV to the post they are trying to fill.

  3. Moshe

    I have vast experiences over the years with Israeli employments agencies and recruiters.
    Most of the callers are 20-something yr. old girls who have no idea what my profession is (payroll comptroller) and most after ascertaining that I am indeed seeking a position, start off the conversation with “what are your salary expectations ?”
    depending on my mood I will either say that it depends on many things and will have to wait to be discussed with the employer after I know what is expected of me and which programs I am expected to use, etc. and since they are only recruiters and won’t be paying me anyhow and can’t answer the questions I have about the requirements and responsibilities of the position I can’t answer. most of the time that’s the last time I hear from them even though I match all of the criteria listed in the job post.
    I have come to a conclusion that they either don’t really have job opportunities even when they publish pages and pages in the newspapers and on the web. they just collect CV’s.
    they are just around to hassle and torture potential job seekers with endless beaurocratic stuff (like – come in for an interview, we need to do that before we send out a cv to a potential employer or you send in your cv but they make you write it on their form or they send you to a whole day interegation and psychoanalyst test (pilat or machon hadassah, etc.
    I have never found a job thru a recruiter or employment agency and it is just a waste of time.
    recently I read that there is a new service in the USA that makes recruiters pay you for your time !

  4. Sally Shiff

    Speaking as a recruiter/Human Resources Manager both here and in the States,Jacob is doing a great service in publishing this letter. This is directed to the recruiters to remind them of the courtesy to respond to all applicants. It is not a point of whether recruiters are good or bad, nor is it about networking vs. head hunters.

    To use this type of response (either by phone or letter) IS REQUIRED BY LAW in the US. (EEOC Rules) and is quite frankly very polite.

    Use whatever means you know of to get the job, and best of luck in your endeavors! We all need excellent employees such as yourself. It is nice to know that someone is publishing a letter for all us HR people to use (and to be reminded to use)


  5. Sarah Welstead

    I have a unique position in a recruitment agency. As Director of User Experience, I work to ensure that candidates, clients and employees have a positive experience with our firm in order to build a positive, on-going relationship. Part of what I encourage other recruiters to do is to automate all the tasks they can in order to focus on relationship building.

    In other words, the kind of relationship Alan described with the recruiter who knows him is exactly where our focus lies. The comment about networking versus software is also well made. Badly managed databases point to a lack of specialization and a lack of defined responsiblities within a recruiting organization.

    Very few agencies have exclusive relationships with employers. They get paid if and only if they place someone. 15 recruiters may be trying to fill the same 30 positions. To save your time, look for details about the client’s workplace culture. The recruiter who spends the most time trying to understand what the client really wants, is the one who is best positioned to help you find the right job. Don’t waste your time with job descriptions that are low on detail.

  6. Christy LaVanway

    This is a great post! So true, and so painful. I hope more recruiters use this ‘lovely’ email template. 🙂

  7. Todd Porter


    I think you are really off base on this because an auto response is no better than non-response. Does it really make a job seeker feel better that their resume has been put into a database or a match will really be made as soon as possible. This is no better than the form letter you might receive saying you just aren’t right for the position. All of this without the interaction of a human, as an auto response is automatically sent.

    I’ve written on this site before that sending mass resume e-mails and posting on a job board, is not the best way of searching for a job. The responses or lack of responses that you have complained about, are mostly associated with a job seeker taking this kind of action.

    I’ll be the first to admit that there is a problem here. Let me cover some items that would improve the situation, on both the individual job seeker side as well as the recruiter side.

    ….. that are submitting a resume should not expect any answer.
    ….. should not consider themselves perfect for a specific position.
    ….. should not send resumes without trying to find a connection associated with the position. (i.e. don’t submit to HR)
    ….. should build relationships with recruiters and mentors, when they don’t need a job.

    ….. should not contact individuals and only pump them for information.
    ….. follow up when they say they are going to follow up.
    ….. should close the loop with the candidates that have been engaged.
    ….. should stay in touch with valuable connections, when they don’t need something specific.

    After 11 years in the search business, I understand the value of networking and creating long term relationships with both Candidates and Customers. It’s through these relationship that we grow our business.

    This does not mean that if we pick up a new job order, that we don’t call people we don’t know. We do. In these cases, we treat the individual as if they are long term relationships.

    I receive and/or put over 5,000 resumes into my database a month. The majority (probably 98%) of these never get any response. sorry.

    When I contact someone or someone is referred to me through someone I know, I try to help as many as I can. Of the people I do connect with, I tell 99% of them that I probably can’t help them directly. This is reality. When you consider that the average recruiter places 12 people a year (if they are placing mid level / key players in an organization) and talk to 20 to 30 people a day, all you have to do is the numbers. We only help (directly) a very very very small percentage.

    So what do I do to perform better than the average recruiter? I always try to point the individual in the right direction. Refer them to someone that can help. As opposed to an auto responder, I do have some ‘canned’ help that I often share. I also always try to communicate until the loop is closed (sorry, I have to admit I’m not 100% perfect on this)

    If I can provide one bit of information to help an individual find their next position it would be: “It use to be who you know. Now it’s who knows you. More importantly it’s who knows what you can do for them”

    The dirtly little secret (that most recruiters won’t confess) the best way to find you next position is through someone that knows what you can do for them, not through a recruiter. Having said that, recruiters are trying to find the perfect individual for their customer. We’re looking for a needle in the haystack.

    Connect with someone that can help you and figure out a way of letting them know what you can do for them.

    If they don’t communicate with you (or send you an auto response) take this as a sign that they aren’t going to be able to help you (reality). Then connect with someone else that can help you.

    I hope this helps.

    Todd Porter

  8. Alan Wilensky

    “we will keep your CV on file and call if there is a match”

    Please, don’t insult me. I have always gotten more contract work with my direct outreach that I have ever gotten from these drones.

    If you are one of these impersonal drone recruiters, don’t call or email me. If you are one of the good ones that takes time to get to know me, reads my CV, portfolio, and Linkedin recommendations, then by all means, I am open to being represented.

  9. Bar Jobs

    “It is not a point of whether recruiters are good or bad, nor is it about networking vs. head hunters.”

    I’d disagree, on both counts, Sally. A) If it is in fact a law to send such a letter (a majority of all companies probably break it), and recruiters don’t, I’d say that an employee’s inability to follow a *law* that governs their work, is a bad [insert job title here]. If their company forbids them, then that’s another issue.

    My point being if you don’t like the dry, inhuman treatment then find alternatives to applying directly to a job on your own, eg, try networking or finding an agency that covers there area of expertise and that will care for them.

    I think Sarah and Todd have some good points related to this.

    Moshe, RE getting paid for interview, I think you may be talking about I’ve not used it, but it was recommended to me by a couple recruiter friends. Perhaps I’m afraid finding out that an interview with me would only buy me a Happy Meal(tm).


  10. Louise Fletcher

    Honestly, I think this is the wrong focus … would it really make job seekers feel better to get an autoresponder email? Would that tell you whether you made an impression or have any chance of a future position?

    Great resumes sent to the right people get results. Period.

    If your resume isn’t amazing and/or you are sending it to the wrong places, you won’t get a response.

    Much better to focus on making your resume the very best it can be and targeting your search, than to worry about whether you get a rejection letter.

  11. Jim Stroud

    Hey Job Seekers,

    As a suggestion, try adding this as a cover letter or adding it to the resumes you post online. If you do, please leave a comment here on the reactions you get. Curious to know…

    Hope this helps!

    Jim Stroud


    Dear Recruiter,

    I grant you permission to review my resume and contact me concerning pending and / or present opportunities if you promise to abide by the following code of ethics.

    1. Contact me for positions of which I am reasonably capable of performing. Please take a moment to insure that my entire work history is compelling and not just certain keywords within my resume.

    2. If you decide not to contact me after reviewing my resume but instead, elect to keep a copy of my resume; please advise me of this via email. I like to keep track of who has access to my resume.

    3. Do NOT forward my resume to your clients without my consent. I would not want my present/future chances of joining a company hampered by multiple recruiters shopping my work history to the same company over and over again.

    4. Should you decide to contact me, do not lie about the job, or the client you represent. I understand that at times, recruiters are under pressure to meet certain numbers. Please be advised that deceiving me about a job only impedes your progress.

    5. Of the utmost importance to me is the status of my candidacy. More often than not, closure is elusive to job seekers after a resume has been submitted. If the possibility of my working for your client is good, slim or non-existent; simply put, I want to know.

    Recruiter, I understand that you read a lot of resumes daily and that you are in the business of getting people hired. However, I want you to remember that I am a real person and not a commodity to be bartered.

    Thank you for the ethical treatment of my resume.


    A. Job Seeker

  12. Todd Porter

    I hate to blog (as I’ve told Jacob in the past) but this one has my interest. I also think it’s very important. Probably more to recruiters than to candidates but there are lessons for both.

    I agree with most of what Jim suggests except for point two. My comments on all of the points are below in ().

    1. Contact me for positions of which I am reasonably capable of performing…

    2. …elect to keep a copy of my resume; please advise me of this via email. I like to keep track of who has access to my resume.
    (If you like to keep track of who has access to your resume, DON’T post it on the job boards, DON’T send it blindly to a recruiting firm, DON’T mass e-mail it multiple recruiters, DON’T pay someone to blast it to thousands of recruiter. I’d even say don’t e-mail it to a company that puts a “submit your resume” request. For all of these actions you lose control. If you send it to me specifically, you should know I have it, it goes into my database and I’ll always handle it appropriately.)

    3. Do NOT forward my resume to your clients without my consent.
    (Excellent and really should go without saying and is part of the expection of ending up in a recruiters database. Any recruiter that forwards a reume with the consent of the candidate should be shot. In fact, I’ll buy the bullet.)

    4. Should you decide to contact me, do not lie about the job…
    (Excellent. Most of the recruiters that do this would probably also do #3. I’ll buy the bullet here to. One caveat, sometimes the candidate will feel there isn’t a job behind the conversation. Recruiters have to have some caution when speaking with someone they don’t have a relationship with. Not all candidates are straight shooters. If I talk to someone about job ABC and they are a bad fit (rule #1 all candidates think they are the perfect fit for every job) if I tell them it’s company XYZ, I might run the risk that they’ll run around me and directly to the company. One last point on this, the candidate always knows when I submit, where I submit and has given me permission to do so.

    5. Of the utmost importance to me is the status of my candidacy…
    (excellent and the point we as recruiters can improve most on)

    …However, I want you to remember that I am a real person and not a commodity to be bartered.
    (This goes with point #2. If you consider yourself a real person and not a commodity, treat the process as such. All the DON’Ts in #2 apply here.)

    Todd Porter

  13. Willy

    The recruiters are going to hate me for this, but how about a personal response to every single job application?

    Mimic a company with outstanding customer service in how you do HR.


    Because every job applicant is a person. Every job applicant is feeling insecure. Every job applicant is not only a potential employee, but a potential customer. Because every job applicant has a mouth and a keyboard and can tell everyone he or she knows how awful your company treated him or her.

    Yes, it may take a lot of time.

    But I think that it’s worth it.

    Too many applicants to respond to? Work on marketing your jobs in a way that brings in fewer, but better qualified applicants. Create more hurdles.

    That canned reply will answer a lot of questions, but a personal reply as to what your situation is will go a lot further.

  14. Amy Derby

    Hi Jacob. Thanks for visiting my blog today. 🙂

    I have never gone through a recruiter for any type of job, but I can only imagine how swamped they must be.

    I agree with some of the comments that I would find the statement about being put into a database a bit off-putting.

    I do like the idea of setting up a more personal/human-friendly autoresponse though. I think this one is great for that, with the exception of the part about putting me into a database.

    Of course, I don’t recruit for a living nor do I go through recruiters, so maybe that kind of statement is the norm in your line of work. 🙂

  15. Jenn Barnes / HR Wench

    This is a fascinating conversation. I tend to agree with Alan (and I’m in HR!). I also like what Jim said (he’s a genius, btw!).

    However, Sally Shiff is incorrect when she states, “To use this type of response (either by phone or letter) IS REQUIRED BY LAW in the US. (EEOC Rules)”. There is no such law stating how companies or recruiters must contact candidates (even qualified ones). It’s a good idea to let your candidates know what your process is, but it is not required.

  16. HR Minion

    I agree that I just don’t see any added value in an auto response email. Just because you get one it won’t mean anything more than if you didn’t. While it’s nice to get some kind of acknowledgment, I don’t see how this would really fill that need. Recruiters do thrive on establishing relationships, but not every candidate is worth a personal time commitment. Harsh, but true. Great conversation. 🙂

  17. Rita

    There are as many styles of recruiting as there are recruiters. The best require courting and do not use job boards, form letters or, for the most part, do not respond to random resume submission. They represent candidates who are referred, vetted and known. These candidates get timely feedback, both the good and the bad. If you want your recruiter to behave, be selective in how you approach her and by whom you are referred. If you persist in using the random and anonymous methods of job boards, you deal with only the least professional recruiters. Your choice. Learn how to get connected to the best recruiters. Read “Job Search Debugged.”

  18. Rita Ashley

    Another comment to add to my previous one because this issue came up again with a client. As a former retained search recruiter and a current job search coach, this issue is a constant thorn in the side of my executive clients. Helps candidates understand why recruiters don’t respond. But sometimes, though good PR is always an asset, Recruiters simply don’t have the time or staff to respond.

    Here’s what I tell my clients: If you submitted an unsolicited resume with no referral or introduction, it is unreasonable to expect a response. You have asked a busy professional whom you don’t know to stop what they are doing and do something for for you for which there is typically no motivation. Unless your credentials are spot on to a current search, the recruiter must do her job; which is to find candidates for her clients. When you submit an unsolicited, un-referred resume, you simply can’t expect a response.

    I invite candidates to reassess their expectations and, while disappointing, stop demonizing the recruiter.

  19. Audrey Barber

    Well talk about Job seeking, on the various job sites that are now been placed all over the world.

    I am a Sri Lankan (Asian) female 44 years of age I have over 20 years of Administrative expereince. The only matter I do not have is “DEGREE”.

    I am a Devout Christian and currently based in DUBAI, the land of SUN, SAND & OPPORTUNITIES… Oh then I am ASIAN that does not referto me!!! Opportunities such a the well paid jobs, the big buck are for expat, the white skinned types.

    Her in Dubai where they declare they hate the western owlrd with a passion, but if you take a good look you will see how they strife to take on teh western culture.

    The Job Agencies here, very openly advertise for, great jobs such as Executive Administrative Assistant, while looking through the jon profile, I find that I have more that what they require, but I am restricte dto apply as in teh advertisement one will see in bold letters “only australian, UL USA new zealand educated candidates”…. BLAST… so what do we call this —- DISCRIMINATION.

    I work at the ATLANTIS THE PALM DUBAI – As a Contracts Administrator, There are others in the same calibre, but sinc ethey have a different coloured skin they are paid more than me, The adminsitrators. Officers where the same uniforms, but those with the fairer skin are given the Managers Uniforms. Can some tell me what this is called if not Discrmination.

    Poeple, just do not spend your valuabel time applying to these hyprcritical agencies, they just play around. yes i have also expereinced retrun mail saying” Though you have not been sucessful on this occassion we have placed your CV in our data Bank” should there another suitable post that match your expereince we shall contact you” why do these people inslut my intelligence, for crying out loud why bother at all.

    Most Agencies just dump you CV into the bin. Once I was told by a friend who works at a Recruitment dept at a 5 Star hotel that her Director of Human recourse a Westerner just drops all CV’s of those of Asian, Arab, African Origin into the bin, but send some ridiculous reply. Then what is this called.

    The world has become a cruel place, but now it is changing to a hyprotical celluloid world where people have forgotten GOD, and worship Money instead. It is also disgusting to see our very own ASIAN Bosses, wanting only Europeans/Westerner’s working for them. that is of course is called “COMPLEX SYNDROME”.

    I do not waste my time any more with any agency, hence i am now in search of a place where people will treat me fairly. I leave that to GOD, I ma sure GOD will lead me to the place I belong.

    Please everyone trust in the LORD, Yahweh will lead us humble beings to better places, GOD knows best.

    All the best with job hunting!

    Love and peace


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  21. oswin.j.k.

    sir praise the lord to u & ur entire team,
    HI, my name oswin fr Mumbai ( India)i am very professional in field of sales,i worked for Dubai Bahrain & muscat for 24 yr i am fluent in Arabic,
    i am trying to change my job if possible, i am very keen to work in country like Israel since i love.
    i wish if i can get a chance to work with u & ur country as a n.g.o. type job or any as u feel that i am fit,thanks & regards please help me & advice me.

  22. Kate

    Recruiters often collect resumes for jobs they don’t have a contract to fill, but are hoping to get. It’s preparation for an event that doesn’t happen.

  23. Pingback: Let Me Introduce Myself – Jacob Share of JobMob | hrm.philippines

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