It’s not YOU, it’s THEM

By: Elias Cobb, National Recruiting Manager

I know, probably not the best title for a blog.  After all, we all need to be accountable and responsible, right? 

But sometimes, when you’re on the job market and you are applying for jobs (and hearing nothing) and interviewing for jobs (and hearing nothing), it really isn’t your fault (sometimes it is, but often it isn’t).  You’re not a bad candidate.  You didn’t screw up your resume.  You didn’t blow up the interview.  Sometimes it’s just the hiring process at the company is so convoluted and complicated that the people involved can’t get out of their own way. 

I see this all the time.  And I’ve seen it for years.  Confusing, complicated, confounding hiring processes that seem to be created to actually rule OUT the best candidates.   I’ve also talked with a lot of candidates over the last year or so who are extremely frustrated by what they run into out there.

While I can’t explain exactly why things are set up the way they are, I can outline some of the reasons you don’t hear back from anyone in a timely fashion….and it’s not always because you’re a bad fit for the job.

  1. Vacations.  People often forget that hiring managers and everyone else in the process sometimes take vacations.  That doesn’t always get communicated to the recruiters, HR people, or other folks doing the scheduling.  And not everyone is diligent about recording an “out of office” voice mail, or turning on their “out of office” email reply.  All they hear is silence, unanswered phone calls, and unanswered emails.  This is especially true around the holidays, of course, but all throughout the summer months as well.
  2. The powerlessness of middle management.  Many hiring managers are solidly stuck in middle management, where they get all the expectations for delivery, and none of the power to make impactful decisions.  They know they need someone to help.  They know they have the budget to hire someone.  But they can’t pull the trigger without three other signatures on the offer letter.  And those people have different priorities than the hiring manager.  The hiring manager’s butt is on the line to deliver, but that project may be meaningless to the others who have to actually sign off on the hire.  Many times you, the candidate, won’t hear about that.  All you hear is a verbal offer, then crickets for a week.  Or you might hear that the offer needs approval, but nothing else.  This doesn’t mean they’re having second thoughts about you.  I see this one ALL THE TIME.  It just means the person doing the hiring has to get someone else to sign off.
  3. The sudden arrival of an internal referral.  This one doesn’t make you feel any better, I know.  But you could be the #1 candidate for the job, and if an internal employee suddenly refers someone for the job, most clients will make time to interview that candidate.  That puts a delay in the process.  The person may not be a better match than you, but most hiring authorities want to motivate employee referrals, so they generally will give those candidates a shot.  But they may not tell YOU about it.  They don’t know if this person will be a good fit, and they want to keep you interested – they may be worried that if you know they scheduled another candidate in at the 11th hour, you might bolt.  And you know how long it can take to get an interview scheduled.
  4. Internal politics.  Things change constantly at companies, including business priorities, employee structure, and more.  If there’s a hint that something might change, many times hiring managers will delay the hiring process, and they don’t always do a good job of communicating this.  Again, they’re afraid that you might bolt if you hear something may change.  And if the change doesn’t go through, they will still need to hire, and they may want you.  So they keep quiet until things solidify, and you’re left sitting on your hands.
  5. Good ol’ fashioned lack of professionalism.  Unfortunately this one is prevalent as well.  Many of my colleagues in recruiting don’t have the professionalism to let candidates know that they were not selected, or that the job closed.  They have moved on, and at best forget to let you know, and at worst don’t care to let you know.  The same thing can happen at companies too.  Sometimes it gets lost in the shuffle, sometimes people aren’t comfortable delivering bad news, sometimes people don’t care.  None of them are good excuses at all, but unfortunately it happens.  And that isn’t your fault either.

So to sum it up, yes, sometimes you don’t hear back because you’re not a good candidate.  Maybe your resume doesn’t read well for the position, or maybe you made a poor impression in the interview.  But a lot of the time there are other factors in play.  Don’t take it personally if you hear back three weeks later that the company wants to do another interview – there may have been something completely unrelated to you going on.

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