Thank you for reaching out to Your Office Mom for advice! I don't know that there is a guaranteed way to stop being ghosted by recruiters. But, here's what I do know since I have worked with recruiters, and I was one once upon a time.
Types of recruiters
You may interact with a company's internal recruiter or an external one. External recruiters can work on behalf of a company and have a retained search agreement (contract) in place. Contingency based recruiters search for jobs and present candidates to an employer, even though the company wasn't using an external recruiter in the first place. They are compensated only if the candidate is hired.
You are generally at a disadvantage with the contingency-based recruiter. A company may interview a candidate to reach quotas, with no intention of making an offer due to the expense, and opt instead to hire a candidate their internal recruiter sourced.
Regardless, all recruiters have quotas to meet. They will screen you and present your credentials to the hiring manager or the employer and get the all-important interview process started. But if you don't move forward in that process, they can't do anything else for you and have no further use for you. That may sound callous (and it is), but if a recruiter can't place you, they will move on to other candidates they can place.
Reasons a recruiter may ignore a candidate
So, here are three reasons you may feel ghosted:
Since you think an external recruiter has your best interests in mind, you may let your guard down and candidly overshare details about your background, work relationships, and salary expectations. This information may, in turn, be shared with a prospective employer, and that can end it right there.
Most recruiters are talented professionals, but often don't like to be the bearer of bad news. They may not want to share negative feedback, so instead, they become distant and won't return your calls.
Recruiters are also busy and have priorities just like you do, and can't possibly return all the calls and emails. But, they will always have time to contact candidates who are still in contention.
What to do if you are ghosted
Sometimes, you just have to realize a recruiter and/or an employer just isn’t that into you (to borrow a movie title). It’s important to just chalk it up for what it is, and keep looking for other jobs where you will be appreciated for what you can bring to the table, and not what you don’t.
Once you follow-up with a recruiter and they don’t return your calls, consider it over and move forward. Don’t agonize over it. Don’t keep trying to get a recruiter’s attention. Instead keep your job search activities in full swing. It’s basically a numbers game (more activity = more chances of the right job coming along).
I hope knowing how “the system” works gives you an awareness you might not have had and makes this a little easier. Good luck!