I receive emails almost daily from frustrated job seekers asking me what they should do when they don’t receive any follow up from potential employers after a job interview. Frustrated, mad, disappointed, offended, tired… can you relate to any of those feelings? Those sentiments often fill my inbox, along with the question, “What is happening when HR doesn’t call me back?”
When you send a resume through an impersonal job posting, you are generally more reasonable in that you do not expect a “no thanks” response. However, after going through several rounds of interviews (especially when you think you’ve nailed it!) only to receive an eerie silence with no subsequent follow-up, I imagine it leaves you feeling outraged and frustrated. I can’t say I blame you and it always makes me sad. As a former 3rd party recruiter, I did experience it, also. I had candidates go through the process and then the corporate recruiter would go silent.
Pulling from my 13 years of recruiting experience, I wanted to shed some light on what is actually happening behind the scenes when a recruiter or HR may not call back throughout the recruitment and interview process. While it has become a daunting task for employers to manage the communication process, that isn’t an excuse to fail to keep a candidate in progress informed.
Please know that I do not believe any of these explanations justify why HR may not call back. But if you can have an inkling as to what goes on inside these processes, you can realize it is not personal and recruiters are not intentionally being sneaky. In most cases, it is just human nature, incompetence, being overwhelmed or lack of information that is the cause of the lack of response. I find knowing it is not personal can ease the frustration.
Through my recruiting experience, this is what I came to realize why HR may not call back:
1. Well-Intentioned “Middlemen”
Corporate HR people and search firm recruiters are simply middlemen (I know this, since I was one!). Most are well-intentioned and want to move candidates through the process to get the open job off their desk. To keep the candidate hopeful, the recruiter might say things like “I will let you know by Friday” or “I am expecting the manager to get back to me ASAP” with full intent on making that happen, but being unable to do so. Then the manager does not get back to the recruiter, leaving the recruiter in an awkward and frustrated position.
2. Poor Process-Management
Some recruiters (corporate and search firm recruiters), sad to say, simply manage the process poorly. They tend to react to what job process is moving forward and forget about the ones that are stagnant. These recruiters tend to hold all the reigns of communication and, as indicated in the earlier point, set up unrealistic expectations that they will get back with everyone with updates. Many recruiters do not have systems to ensure communication is consistent.
3. Lack Of Control
The reality is most middlemen have little to no control in the process and often make promises they cannot keep. I dealt with this by telling my candidates, when it was applicable, “I hope to hear by Friday, but you have to know I have no control over when they will tell me. If you have not heard from me by Monday or Tuesday, please feel free to check in with me. But know that if I hear anything, I will let you know.” I was honest about what I had control over and did not have control over. Not a perfect solution, I know, but I tried my best. I hated candidates not knowing what was going on.
4. Hiring Managers Don’t Know or Don’t Care
Hiring managers (or line managers) that are responsible for pulling the trigger often have no idea that a communication deadline was made to the candidate by a recruiter. Or, there are hiring managers that know this, but just frankly do not care. They often do not get back to the corporate recruiters or the third party recruiter that might be in between in a timely fashion.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I have come to learn many people have a hard time with these last 3 items:
5. Giving Bad News
i.e. “The manager chose someone else.”
6. Saying They Were Wrong
i.e. “I am sorry that I said I would have an answer for you by tomorrow and now that tomorrow is here and I do not have an answer.”
7. Admitting They Have No Clue About What Is Going On
i.e. “I must admit the manager said this was a priority, so that is why I communicated urgency to you. I have no idea why they are now not responding on the next step.”
As a result, I find, with any of these scenarios, many people choose to just avoid it and never make the phone call or send the email to give the candidate the update and focus on other priority jobs.
So what can you do?
I always suggest to my job search clients not to hold on to the results of the actions they take, to the best of their ability. Just take the actions to move forward during this job search transition (send emails, do follow-up, go to interviews, apply for the job, network, etc.) and try not to tie expectations to each result. When an expectation is tied to a result and that anticipated result not realized, that is where we get frustrated. I do this in my business and in my personal life as much as I can.
It is not easy and, to be honest, some days I am not very successful at it. But I find that when I can let go of expectations, I am less disappointed and I leave myself open for other, unimagined, wonderful things to come into my life!
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