Updated: Nov 13, 2021
I recently had the experience where I applied for a few interesting casual roles to supplement my work as a career coach. I followed my usual advice of tailoring cover letters and resumes to ‘fit’ the roles and for one role actually called the person mentioned in the advertisement three times (twice leaving a brief voicemail) and sending a LinkedIn inMail with no response. A month has gone by and I can assume that their silence and lack of response means they are not interested in my candidature (despite being a good fit for what they were after).
Outside of my own personal experience with ‘rejection by silence’ I literally hear the same thing from my clients most days of the week. They apply for a job, call a contact or follow up with someone only to be met with the sounds of silence. My usual advice is that ‘this is part of the frustrations of job search’ and that ‘during job search you develop a thick skin’…But should it be so? Absolutely not!
I’m not between jobs but yet I was still taken aback at the lack of professionalism and basic human courtesy to respond to my applications. I had taken the time and effort to express interest in their organisations, so surely there should be some reciprocation? Rather, there was a conscious decision to ignore me and others who apparently did not meet their requirements. Even more so as someone who’s unemployed, putting myself ‘out there’ to say ‘Mr Employer, you and your role sound really interesting and I have some great skills that I believe could be of use to you. Here are my details and I look forward to hearing back.’ Silence, nothing, nada, zippo, cue the sounds of crickets chirping in the background…‘Rejection by silence’. What you are saying, even if not intentional, is that you don’t recognise me or my background…I am knocking on your door and you ignore me. Can I ask that if a potential customer reached out to you, would you also ignore them? Of course not and I may well be a potential customer one day! Based on one less than satisfactory experience with you, it’s understandable that I may take my business elsewhere.
Let’s call a spade a spade…Lack of response to job applicants is a poor reflection of you and your organisation and if you don’t have a system to manage unsuccessful job applicants appropriately, you should.
I would argue that it does not take much effort to return a phone call or to generate some sort of form email, automated response or text message that is sent to unsuccessful candidates. Yes, we’ll be disappointed we missed out on your job, but at least we’ve been told where we stand and can focus on other opportunities. In fact, such a response would be a novelty and would serve you and your organisational brand well. I knocked on your door, you answered, explained politely you were not interested and I continued down the street…Thank you!
Practically I get that corporate types are busy and time poor. I was one for 27 years. I also recognise that many of these folks simply see job applicants as ‘strangers’ or one more resume on the pile. What I reflect on though is that many of us charged with hiring staff have been through job loss and understand the heightened emotions experienced during this time. You would think this would be leverage enough to ensure the same sins are not repeated? Apparently not. To be blithely ignored despite our best efforts to make contact with someone during job search can be soul-destroying if it happens often enough.
So, Mr and Mrs Employer, give a damn to those of us applying to your fine organisations! Let us know when we have failed to ‘make the cut’ in a timely manner but even better, let us know you’d like to meet us for an interview. We’d be happy to chat…
Have you had this experience during job search? I’d love to hear about it.
For any help with job search, see my website at www.thecareermedic.com or contact me directly by clicking here. You may also be interested in my book, ‘Fired to Hired, The Guide to Effective Job Search for the Over 40s’ which was recently published and is full of practical, no-nonsense job search tips for mature workers. You can purchase the book from this link or directly from Amazon or Booktopia among others.
The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s