Candidates Not Calling You Back? Could Be Everyone’s On Vacation

There was an interesting question in one of the sourcing groups on LinkedIn that asked:

Just out of curiosity – it seems often my team seems to experience highs or slumps in candidate responses together, despite working on totally different positions and requirements. Is there any survey or study out there on optimal times of year when candidates are most open to replying/responding?

It’s a subject I’ve long been mildly amused over, but never really thought to write about, until I finished my answer in the group and then realized the import it had to the results many of us experience with email and voicemails.

Now that it’s summer many of us are feeling these “non-responses” more acutely!

Having much experience over the years with company phone bank systems I understand that different times of the year will yield different voicemail messages with many of them prompted by the owner’s glee over being “away” for a period of time.

Hi, this is Matt Spencer.  I’m on vacation until the 6th of next month.  While I’m away if this is a spec issue call my manager Marsha Robard at extension 4311.  If it’s a delivery issue call the Operations Manager Tim Denard at extension 3278.  For installation call Sam Simon at 4439 and for everything else call our department admin Sheila at extension 4401.  I’m outta’ here but if you must call me – call my cell. You have it.

Love those vacay voicemails.

A person’s vacation doesn’t necessarily mean the two, three or four weeks they get as part of their benefits award.  I’m convinced many employees sit down with their spouses or significant others at the beginning of the year and plan out escape packets that take into account holidays that fall at the end, middle or beginning of a week, and then coordinate between themselves how to best take advantage of the time.

This may mean a week-long vacation turns into a near month-long sayonara when coupled with an end of the year two-week retooling plant closing, when weekends are added in at either end.

It could mean a two-week vacation becomes nearly three weeks when the skip-out happens on the Wednesday before a holiday that falls on a Thursday and the company is closed the following Friday because it’s just too much hassle, lost productivity, and ill will to be open.

Depending when Easter and Passover fall and when the kids are out of school, there can be pretty much a month long hiatus sometime as people take spring break vacations.


Segueing closely behind, Memorial Day takes its toll at the end of May as spring fever grabs hold. The week before and the week after seem to be popular away times as the kids are getting out of school and summer vacations begin.

Summer is a mixed bag all summer long; it’s a constant litany of be-backs I hear until Labor Day arrives and things settle down about midway into September. Then all’s quiet until “Thanksgiving’s right around the corner” and the fun begins anew. The same drill starts – people are gone pretty much the whole week of Thanksgiving, and some are gone the week after as well.

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The buildup to winter break and the holidays starts about two weeks before and lasts until the kids go back to school or the first full week completes after the New Year. Things don’t really normalize until about the middle of January.


So there you have it. I bet if you add it up there’s probably better than half the work year affected by more than average absentee-rates in the workplace. And this says nothing about birthdays and other religious and national holidays that some people take very seriously.


I forgot sick days. Not talked about or admitted to, sick days get strung onto vacation days to create even longer lapses.  Truth be told, we may be talking three quarters of the work year affected by absenteeism.

So if your email isn’t answered or your voicemail doesn’t get returned maybe now you’ll understand a little better when I tell you it takes an average of FIVE voicemails left to have one returned!

Think about this. When YOU return from being away for a few days (or a few weeks) and you open up your work email or listen to your messages what’s the first thing you’re tempted to do with the multitude that have stacked up?  That’s right – dump them!  That’s exactly what a lot of people do!  That’s why you have to send or leave multiple copies!

Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!