From Frustration to Fallout: Why Candidates Are Giving Recruiters the Cold Shoulder

From Frustration to Fallout: Why Candidates Are Giving Recruiters the Cold Shoulder

Table of Contents

  • Hannah
  • April 12, 2024

You’ve invested time and energy crafting the perfect job listing, posted it on all the top boards, and even reached out to some promising candidates. Yet, to your surprise, crickets. No applications, no inquiries, not even a courtesy “thanks, but no thanks.” Last you checked, the job market wasn’t this deserted, and there’s no recession on the horizon. So, what’s going on? 

It sounds like you’ve been given the cold shoulder. It’s the frustrating reality of qualified candidates actively ignoring your seemingly perfect opportunities. But, we’re here to help you bridge the gap and turn those frowns upside down (and inboxes overflowing) with qualified applicants. 

The Cold Shoulder Effect

This frustrating situation, where qualified candidates just seem to disappear, is called the “Cold Shoulder Effect. It’s not a ghost town in the job market, it’s a sign that something’s off with your recruiting approach.  

There’s a mismatch between what you think candidates want and what really matters to them. Let’s take a closer look at where you or your team might be unintentionally losing the plot. 

Read More: From Cold Calls to Warm Fuzzies: The Role of Empathy in Effective Communication with Candidates and Clients 

Misjudging Priorities 

Recruiters might spend a lot of time highlighting perks like flexible work schedules, thinking that’s a top priority (and it is important!). But a recent study showed that only 41 percent of candidates ranked it as their absolute must-have.¹ 

This might lead recruiters to miss the mark on what truly motivates candidates. Things like feeling happy and fulfilled at work, or having opportunities to develop new skills, are actually more important to a lot of job seekers. Let’s face it, while flexibility is great, most folks still prioritize their paycheck – gotta keep the lights on, right? 

The Details Trap 

It’s tempting to focus on listing every perk and benefit under the sun. But here’s the thing: candidates are looking beyond the specifics. They want to understand the bigger picture of company culture and how the role fits into their career goals. 

Think about it this way; most people don’t want to feel stuck doing repetitive tasks with no room for growth. They want a job that feels meaningful and offers opportunities to learn and advance. 

Communication Breakdown 

Imagine you spend time interviewing a promising candidate, only for them to vanish without a trace. Unprofessional, right? Well, the tables can turn in the recruiting world. Inconsistent updates, disappearing acts after interviews, and a lack of transparency can leave candidates feeling disrespected and unimportant. 

The data backs this up. Studies show a significant increase in recruiter ghosting – up to 112 percent since the pandemic.² And no, candidates don’t need a minute-by-minute update. But basic courtesy goes a long way. A simple message about their application status – positive or negative, can make a world of difference. 

The Mirror Effect 

The hiring process is more than just interviews and applications. It’s a showcase of your company culture. A disorganized process with unclear communication can unintentionally paint a picture of a potentially dysfunctional work environment. This can be a major turn-off for top talent who value efficiency and a respectful workplace. 

You don’t need to go overboard with elaborate procedures. But remember, candidates form an impression of your company based on their interactions with your recruiting team. Make sure that impression reflects the positive and professional culture you’ve built. 

Bridging the Gap

The good news? The Cold Shoulder Effect isn’t a permanent problem. Here are tips to help you transform your recruitment approach and turn those digital crickets into a chorus of qualified applicants. 

The Candidate Expectation Reality Check 

Take a quick self-assessment. Use the checklist to gauge how well your current recruitment strategy aligns with candidate expectations. 

  • Prioritize Culture Over Perks: Review your job descriptions and conversations with candidates. Does the focus lean heavily on specific perks (like free lunches) over highlighting the company culture and work environment? 
  • Focus on Long-Term Growth: Are you emphasizing opportunities for skill development and career advancement? 
  • Communication is Key: Evaluate your current communication practices. Do you have a system in place to consistently update candidates throughout the hiring process, even if they are not selected for the role? 
  • Streamline Your Process: Is your hiring process efficient and transparent? Unnecessary delays and lack of communication can frustrate candidates. 

Defrosting the Candidate Cold Shoulder 

After going over your checklist, here’s a few steps to help you bridge the gap.  

Deliver a Winning Candidate Experience 

Highlighting company culture goes a long way in bridging that gap. Why? Because candidates today prioritize finding a good fit, not just a good job. A strong company culture can be a major deciding factor. 

So, equip your team with materials to paint a picture, however big or small, of what it’s like to work for the client company. This could include employee testimonials, social media content highlighting company events, or even links to the client’s “Careers” page with employee profiles.  

Don’t stop there! You could also try to ask for insights into their company culture that might not be readily available online. Things like their approach to work-life balance, internal training programs, or even unique company traditions. 

Read More: How Does Candidate Experience Impact Your Employer Brand? 

Focus on Career Growth Paths 

While pay is a major factor for candidates, it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. In today’s job market, talented candidates also crave opportunities to grow and develop their skills.  

And when you showcase career advancement paths, you’re showing commitment to the candidates’ career development. This can be a major selling point for candidates who see themselves building a long-term career with the company. 

How? Identify clear career advancement opportunities within the open positions. For instance, internal training programs, mentorship initiatives, and potential promotion paths. Once you have this knowledge, train your recruiters to effectively communicate these growth opportunities to candidates. 

Communication Champions 

Clear and consistent communication throughout the hiring process is no longer a courtesy. It’s an expectation.  

So, develop clear guidelines for how and when your recruiters chat with candidates throughout the whole process. This means keeping them in the loop about interview schedules, next steps, and even letting them know if they’re not moving forward. 

You could also invest in training programs that focus on effective communication. This includes being good listeners, sending messages that are clear and to the point, and using the right tools like email or phone calls.

Cultivate a Candidate Community 

Forget just filling jobs, build connections! Reach out to potential stars at industry events, online forums, and social media groups. Share your thought leadership expertise, engage in conversations, and show you care about their careers. 

And when a candidate doesn’t get the job, no worries! Send them occasional updates about interesting industry news, career tips, or maybe even invites to special events your firm hosts. This shows you care about their future, not just filling a single role.  

Lastly, create a cool online space (forum or social media group) for top talent to connect and learn. This fosters a community and positions you as their career partner. 

Tech It Up 

Today’s candidates crave a modern experience. Upgrade your game with a user-friendly Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for mobile applications and clear communication. Time to leverage the power of LinkedIn and other platforms! Showcase cool company cultures and opportunities on social media with targeted ads and engaging content. 

Video interviews or testimonials can also give a sneak peek inside the company. It’ll attract tech-savvy talent who value innovation. It’s a win-win! 


In today’s tight job market, candidates have options. Don’t let yours experience the “cold shoulder” treatment! Learn how to bridge the gap and attract candidates with Allied Insight’s cutting edge staffing strategies. Schedule a chat with us and you’ll learn the best tactics for it! 


1 The Future of Recruiting.” 2023, Business LinkedIn, 

2 10th Conversation Starter: Prospective Employer ‘Ghosting’ More than Doubles Since Before the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Glassdoor, 26 Oct. 2023,



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