Thursday, November 17, 2005

Rudeness in the Hiring Process

I haven't been hiding the fact that I've been seeking work, and I've commented on how different things have been for me when compared to my glory days. As blogs are well-known as forums to discuss pet peeves, today I'll chime in on one of my perceptions. I particularly welcome comments from those on the other side of the hiring process to explain why they feel the following practices are just.

It may not be the case in other industries, but there is apparently no shortage of applicants for IT positions in the Tampa Bay area. Once upon a time, a job seeker would respond to a classified ad by phone or mail, but today e-mail is the dominant medium used in applying for a job. The employer typically requests the applicant to e-mail his/her resume and salary requirements to an address checked occasionally by the first level person in the hiring process (often an HR employee). Usually the HR employee is expecting a resume prepared in ASCII text or more commonly as a Word document. The applicant is rarely told in what format to send the resume, and if the resume is not in the desired format, it is apparently discarded without comment; there are too many applicants for the employee to take the time to request a new resume in the desired format.

Unfortunate, but I can understand this, just as I can understand today's trend towards not acknowledging receipt of the resume (though some addresses have autoresponders that do just that). So the vast number of resumes are sent without expectation of reply. If you don't make the first cut, you simply never hear from the employer.

No, what bothers me is the lack of communication after a one-on-one dialog, however brief, has occurred. Let me give a few examples.

  • A recruiter for a telecommunications company sends an e-mail asking for an updated resume and salary requirement. He started the conversation, yet after receiving the requested information, he refuses to reply to additional requests, even if only to state the position was filled or the candidate didn't meet the requirements to go to the next level.

  • After receiving a faxed resume, a clerk calls to verify a single question left unresolved on the resume. Upon receiving the clarification verbally, the clerk says someone will call "in the near future" to arrange an interview. The employer is never heard from again.

  • After a lengthy and apparently promising interview, the interviewer (a VP in the company) gives the applicant a business card (with an e-mail address) in case the applicant has the need to contact him. When the applicant does e-mail him, however, the e-mails go unacknowledged.

In each of these cases, one-on-one contact has occurred. The candidate is no longer simply a piece of paper, and deserves the same courtesy the applicant has given to the employer. After all, the applicant is also a consumer, yet the applicant is treated as something less... as if the decision not to hire is equal to not wanting anything to do with that person or anyone that person knows.

It's rude, and it's bad business. Don't lie to the applicant and don't ignore him/her after you've made a personal communication with him/her. It leaves a negative impression of the employer that can become lost revenue in excess of the cost of a more professional attitude as the applicant shares his/her experience with others.

On the positive side...

I've had an encouraging phone interview with a company seeking marketing assistance with their e-commerce web site. Another conversation is scheduled for Monday. I'm holding my breath... because this person is treating me like another person, not like a piece of paper.

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