Silence? When a job seeker hears nothing

posted in: Job Doc Blog | 0

Q: I have been out of work now for nearly four months. I have had many interviews and I am discovering new roles, mainly because I am a good networker. Still no job offer. I find it frustrating when the HR rep/hiring manager does not share updates on the interviewing progress. I call, email and then call again.  Silence. Is it too much to ask for status updates from HR?  I find it bad practice if an organization does not communicate any status when unemployed people need that information to move on. There is no closure.

A: Thanks for your question and the background information you provide.  Your situation is common, and I had to admit that.  I hear this concern repeatedly; specifically, that any inquiries about a job are met by silence.  It is unfortunate but an unfortunate reality.

A bit of information from “the other side.”  Many HR teams have been sliced, diced and thinned.  I hear from recruiters and HR reps that they could work 90 hours per week and still not be able to return all the calls and emails from candidates.  And sometimes when the HR rep does return a call to a candidate (trying to do the right thing!), they are met with frustration, anger and even threatening demands.  I had one HR rep share with me that a very unhappy job seeker angrily threatened to show up at her office and “track her down” after she told him that he was not a final contender for an opportunity at her company.  I have even had parents of recent college graduates contact me and demand to know why their son or daughter was not hired by my client.  Holy moly!

In the pre-technology days, it seemed easier to return calls to candidates.  Now, technology has entered into the world of hiring.  The responses to online job postings can be overwhelming.  Some online posts can receive over 100 responses in less than one day!  And some responses are from left field.  If we post on a job board that a candidate must have five years of accounting experience in biotech and the candidate’s resume states that they have been a French tutor for three years, it feels like a 100% mismatch.  I am hoping that candidates understand that I can not contact each and every person that may reply but only the candidates that best match my client’s requirements.  At a minimum though, candidates should be contacted if the candidate interviews with an employer or a recruiting firm.  Candidates are sometimes offended when I notify them by email but I feel like at least they are receiving an update and closure.  Not all candidates are satisfied with this type of response either.

Finally, I applaud you for actively networking. Networking is an important piece of the job hunting puzzle.

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.