Mistakenly part of an email exchange

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Q: I interviewed with a company in October.  Later that week, I think I was mistakenly added to an email exchange between the recruiter and the hiring manager.  Part of the email conversation was about logistics, like when they hope to fill the role and vacations that they need to work around.  However, there were also some references to my candidacy.  The hiring manager said that work history was “subpar” and I was not dressed appropriately for the interview.  These are not qualifications for the job.  Should I tell the recruiter that I saw this email? 

A: Wow.  It sounds like you were included on an email exchange mistakenly.  You can respond in an angry and annoyed way or you can respond in a professional way and learn from it.  This is very valuable feedback.  Dressing professionally and a stable employment history are usually not spelled out in a job description, but both are desirable.

Candidates should ALWAYS look professional.  In most cases, what you wear to a club on a Saturday night is not the same attire you would wear to an interview.  It is better to err on the side of conservatism rather than dress flamboyantly.  I don’t know how you were dressed but obviously it caught their attention, and not in the most positive way.

Your work history is also relevant.  If you have held three different roles in less than two years, that would cause most hiring managers to take a more critical look at your professional work history.  If one of your previous companies dissolved, then that this a detail I would share proactively.  Sometimes those details are important but not readily apparent when a manager is reviewing a resume.  Industries differ too.  In some tech sectors, a two-year stint is fine, while in financial services it seems like a very short stop in a professional work history.

In a way, you are at an advantage.  You know how a prospective employer views your candidacy.  It might be an opportunity to learn and improve your candidacy.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.