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Tell Me Yes, Tell Me No, Tell Me When Hell Freezes Over - Just Tell Me!

June 8, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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Although not actively seeking a new position, several years ago I became aware of a job opportunity that seemed to be worth investigating, working for a prominent international company known for its “Global Interactive Marketing Services.” The position was in their internal communications department as an Intranet Editor, specifically tasked with keeping the thousands of _____ (rhymes with Maxiom) employees in the loop about company developments, explaining the company’s new technologies in laymen’s terms. Not to toot my own horn, but as the Internet for Beginners Guide at About.com for three years, I used to get thank you notes from 75-yr. old grannies on a weekly basis, telling me that my explanations helped them to finally “get it,” and with the rest of my assorted experience, I felt uniquely and solidly qualified for this position. (I used to get notes from 75-yr. old men, too, but those tended to be of a different nature).

At any rate, I applied online, using their state-of-the-art application process that took me, seriously, 90 minutes to complete. And then I clicked “Submit,” and received an auto-responder along these lines: “Thanks for your interest in working with _____ (rhymes with Taxiom). Due to the large number of applications we receive, we are unable to personally respond to each applicant. However, if we feel your experience and qualifications are a good fit for the position to which you applied, we will be in touch shortly. Thank you.”

OK. I didn’t really give it that much thought. After all, I was uniquely qualified and they would be in touch shortly, right? Uh. . . wrong. They never got in touch. Ever. Not a phone call, not an email, not even a rude form letter with someone else’s name at the top by accident. Nothing. After being slightly surprised and annoyed at this lack of appreciation for my unique qualifications, I shrugged it off and pretty much forgot about it. Pretty much. After all, I was a passive candidate and not actively seeking or needing a new opportunity. No big deal.

However, now that my career path has put me in the position of working with both candidates and employers, my perspective has changed. I often hear from candidates who are checking their email several times an hour, hoping to hear . . . something. Anything. It is a big deal. It’s a big deal for any job seeker who is in the very stressful position to need a new job. Maybe they’ve been let go, or fired, or are in an impossible or dead end situation in their current job and need to make a change. We’ve all been there. It is a big deal when a job seeker puts their heart and soul into creating a resume (or parts with the money to hire someone else to do it), stays up until the wee hours with a Thesaurus, coming up with “the perfect cover letter,” dutifully fills out every *Required blank on the application form, hits the “Submit” button, excited about the potential of this new opportunity, and hears . . . nothing.

Because I also work with employers and recruiters, and have a somewhat insider’s view of what their days entail, I know that responding to each and every inquiry is neither realistic nor cost efficient, and I’m certainly not suggesting a personal phone call be placed to each and every wannabe who sends an unsolicited resume. What I am suggesting though, is that if there is not enough respect in your hiring system to send a polite “thanks but no thanks” email or form letter (addressed to the correct recipient) to a candidate who has gone through appropriate channels to apply for a legitimate, posted position, then something is wrong with your system, because isn't that taking the "Human" out of HR?

And you just never know. That person who you didn’t bother to acknowledge could hypothetically be in a position to blog about it someday, rhyming your name with nonsense words and taking oh-so-subtle jabs at your reputation. Hypothetically.

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