Pattie Hunt Sinacole discusses email response time

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Q:  I applied a role for which I was 90%+ qualified for, in almost every way.  I sent a resume in a few weeks ago, and heard nothing.  I thought it went into the infamous circular file.  I was in NH skiing over February vacation, and had spotty cell reception.  In early March, I realized there was both an email and a voicemail from the hiring manager AND recruiter.  Now, I feel like a fool.  I called them back and emailed them, to explain my ski trip.  I told them that I had cell phone service, but it was in and out the whole time.  Now I have not heard back from either one.  It has been a week.  I am beyond upset.  I don’t get it.  If I was worth calling back in February, and now I am not even worth a phone call or a return email, what is that all about.  I even tried sending a message through LinkedIn.  Still no response.  What is your advice? 

A: This is an emotionally-charged subject for me.  When a candidate is interested in a role, a candidate must demonstrate interest.  Skiing is not an excuse.  When you did have reception, you should have been checking your email daily.  You should have been checking your voicemail daily.  Checking your messages at least daily is incredibly important and signals that you are interested and have strong follow-through skills.  I expect job seekers to check email and voicemail daily.  You should have carved out 20 minutes of each day to put yourself in a space where you had good reception.  Then, you should have actively checked your messages.  Sometimes when you are in a poor cell area, it takes some time for messages to pop up.  I have experienced that also.  However, I will check my messages more carefully when I return to an area where my reception is strong.

If a company has an opportunity available, there is often urgency to being the selection process. Many employers post a role on several websites, but also may check their internal candidate tracking systems to research if there may be a candidate who may be of interest.  A candidate from a past search may have surfaced.  When a role is posted online, the resumes come flying in.  the company is often inundated with candidates.  Some candidates are qualified and some are not.  Typically, the employers want to move quickly to begin screening candidates.  You may have missed that window of opportunity.  It has been almost four weeks, which feels like an eternity to a recruiter.

We have been on the other side of the recruiting process.  We are often on the team who is identifying and assessing talent.  This company assumes that you have a cell phone and would have checked it regularly, whether skiing in the Alps or not.

When we work with clients to find strong candidates, I am amazed when a candidate takes days to respond to our voicemail or email messages.  If at all possible, these messages should be reviewed and responded to within one day.  Your response time is one indicator of your interest level.  Most of us have smart phones these days, which are capable of receiving emails.

My guess is that they had other candidates who responded quickly.  Perhaps they are too far into the selection process to introduce you as a candidate.

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