A reader writes:
Recently I faxed my resume and cover letter to a company that had a job posting on Career Builders. About a week later I received a call from a lady in HR asking that I return her call. I got home about an hour and half later and returned the call and received her voicemail. I left a brief, polite message.
Two days passed and the lady did not return my call. I called back on the third day and left another message stating who I was and that I had returned her call three days ago and asked that she call me back and said that I hoped to hear from her soon because I was eager for a chance to talk to her about the position available. Another week passed with no call from her. I emailed my cover letter and resume to her again with a brief message that I was interested in knowing if the position was still available. I never received word from her.
What was the reason she called in the first place and is this just a missed opportunity because I missed her first call by an hour and a half?
Unfortunately, she has probably moved on and you should too.
Here's what likely happened: She's looking for, say, four people to interview in-person. She's going to phone-screen promising-looking candidates until she finds those four. When she gets to four, she's done with the phone screens. And she found four before you called her back. (I don't like this method because it means the strongest candidates may never get identified, but it's not uncommon.)
There are other possible explanations too, although I think the one above is the most likely: After calling you, she found a stronger candidate who bumped you out of the running. Or she found out that the hiring manager has settled on a candidate. Or changed the job description. Or canceled the job altogether.
Now, in any of those cases, she should have gotten back to you to tell you, so that you weren't left hanging -- no matter what, but especially after seeing you follow up more than once. Not doing so is rude and inconsiderate. It's also sadly typical of the increasing number of employers who feel no obligation to treat candidates with politeness once they decide they have no further use for them.
Now, what could you have done differently? Short of never being away from your phone and always being prepared to talk -- which is unrealistic and no way to live your life -- nothing. It's something you've got to chalk up to an irritating reality of job hunting. And you're entitled to feel frustrated.