Yes, we are all busy, but when did it become okay to treat job prospects so poorly?

“Gregory”, a mid-level manager I am coaching, was very far along the interview funnel for a more senior position.  When the hiring manager invited him to lunch, he thought he was on the verge of a job offer. To be safe, Greg confirmed the lunch two days before, but the hiring manger did not reply. The day of the luncheon came and went without a single word.  As it turned out, the recruiter was left in the dark too.  Over three weeks later, Greg heard via text that the job went to someone else. Really? These kinds of stories make me crazy, and they are all too common.

For hiring managers, think of your brand. 16-year veteran recruiter, Don Leon, told me “I've always encouraged hiring managers to go out of their way to communicate with candidates they don't hire.  It's a small thing, yet in the era of social media, it creates good will and the company's reputation can be enhanced within the market.  Also a company's needs could change, so the person once dismissed could one day be viable”.

 We live in a world where social media rules and negative tweets can impact your brand and reputation, but be a person first.  Think of these candidates as human beings and treat them with respect.

Patty Newman, HR Director, North America at Essence Digital, said that getting back to candidates is an act of human kindness.  She said it is common practice at many successful firms to get back to ALL job applicants within 48 hours. That sounds like a good rule to follow. At least candidates will know where they stand. Maybe it is wishful thinking, but if followed it would save candidates, and company reputations, from a lot of angst.

But what about candidates? What can they do in a world where companies large and small go radio silent? I hear this complaint constantly from job candidates who feel beaten up and worn down. Many have gone through multiple interviews, 90-day action plans and mock presentations only to have their emails and calls fall on deaf ears. What can they do to make this process less painful?

1.       Take the emotion out of it – anger, confusion, depression, sadness etc. It’s not personal.

2.       Polish your story and customize it for each interview or job opportunity. One size does not fit all.

3.       Think of it like dating. Some jobs are just not a match and that’s okay.

4.       Spend time reflecting on the interview, critically analyzing every aspect. What did you learn from it? What could you have done differently to change the outcome?

5.       A positive attitude matters. Negativity shows up in what you say and how you say it. Your vocal tone and body language quickly give away what’s going on inside.

6.       Put your energy into other opportunities! It’s a tight job market. Know that there is a job out there with your name on it.

7.       Know that interviewing can be a marathon affair, especially for senior roles. How can you stay energized and engaged throughout? Ask for help – from recruiters, colleagues or career coaches.

Hiring managers and companies can and should do a better job letting candidates off easy, with a simple “we’ve gone in a different direction” type statement. Candidates would be best served to take the emotion out of it, move on and ask for help when the going gets rough.

My hope is that this situation gets better, but I an optimist.  Happily, Greg learned a lot from his frustrating experience and has moved on.  Since he recommitted himself to his current company, he was recently promoted. 

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