6 Things You Need To Know About Unresponsive Employers


Last week I posted about candidates who are angry with companies who don’t respond when they apply and/or interview with companies.  The comments were interesting, and I started to reply…but it turned into a list.

First, let me be clear:  Every employer should respond to every resume submission, and follow up after every interview.  While it’s not as automated as candidates seem to think (because most companies actually do not have these fancy applicant tracking systems you keep hearing about), it’s not that hard to set up an email auto-reply for resume submissions, even if you’re just using Outlook or something.  There’s no excuse for not doing it.  As for companies that don’t respond after an interview—well, that just blows my mind.  It’s not physically possible to interview so many people that you can’t send them a canned rejection email, at the very least.

This list, then, isn’t meant to make excuses for these people.  There’s no excuse.  They should always respond.  But there ARE some things you should be aware of:

  1. Stuff gets lost. If you didn’t get a response to your resume, it’s possible that it’s because they didn’t receive it.  It happens.  That’s one more reason it’s up to you to avoid depending entirely on technology to get the job.
  2. Your spam filter might have eaten it.  When I was recruiting full-time, I’d get at least one angry phone call/email a month from a candidate who was mad because she’d never heard from me after applying or interviewing with us.  Each time I was mortified, and each time, I checked my “Sent” folder to see if I’d sent them something.  In my 14 year career, only once did I find that I’d failed to send the candidate the email (and that was because I’d spelled the email address wrong—duh).  Before you fire off a letter to the errant employer, check your spam folder.
  3. The recruiters lost their jobs months ago. When companies stop hiring, they often lay off all of the recruiters.  Most of the recruiters I know are out of work right now.  The HR people you’re dealing with now are often not recruiters, but HR generalists (people who handle stuff like sexual harassment complaints, terminations, people who can’t get along with their managers, etc.).  I only know two HR generalists in the whole world who actually like recruiting.  They’re often doing their regular job in addition to the recruiting job…and they also don’t always know how to work the applicant tracking system, if there is one (that’s the big database your resume goes into).  This is pretty much a recipe for a bad candidate experience.  I’m not making excuses for them, because having a sucky job is not a license to be rude.  I do, however, think that’s part of the reason that so many people are being treated poorly by companies right now.
  4. The worst part of recruiting is the managers (at least a few of them).  I pretty much loved everything about recruiting.  The only thing I didn’t love was working with incompetent hiring managers.  Every so often, I’d get one who just couldn’t be bothered to actually fill the job.  He’d insist on running an ad, and we’d get all these resumes, and then he’d sit on them.  And sit.  And sit.  And I’d bug him daily, and weeks (even months) would go by, and this idiot keeps saying, “I’m too busy to look at the resumes.”  He won’t let me just pick some and screen them—no, only he can do it.  Then, when we finally get to interviews, he can’t make a decision.  We’d agree up front that we’d make a decision within a week of the last interview, and this guy couldn’t do it.  By then he’s not returning phone calls, so I’m stalking him in person…only he’s “too busy” to decide.  People always think it’s the HR person who is responsible when they’re not getting an answer back.  That’s just not always the case.
  5. HR people don’t hire. Hiring managers hire.  The hiring manager is ultimately responsible for filling the job.  HR people do not hire anyone. They’re in a service role, serving the managers by helping them hire effectively.  That’s why when you’re following up after the interview, you need to do so with both the HR person AND the hiring manager.  If the HR person is the problem, the hiring manager needs to know that you’re not hearing back (in the same way that the store manager needs to know if a cashier treats you poorly…because that HR person serves the hiring manager).  If the hiring manager is the problem, the HR person needs to know so that she can shake things loose and get the process moving.  But if you’re directing your anger at the HR people, save some of the person who is actually responsible for filling the job:  the hiring manager.  Hold them accountable as well.
  6. If you have a bad experience, speak up. Tell your friends.  Companies who treat candidates like crap need to be held accountable.  I knew one person who had an experience so bad that she wrote to the company president (and really, the circumstances in that case were so extreme that he really needed to know).  The worst offender got fired as a result, and she deserved it.  It’s very easy these days to share your experiences, good or bad…and companies who haven’t figured that out yet are in for a rude awakening.

Photo by skycaptaintwo

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