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Sunday, June 20, 2010

employer left me a message -- but wouldn't respond when I tried to get back to them

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.


Tracy D said...

I had something similar happen to me. And it really irritated me, I certainly didn't care for the lack of respect. Her message back to me was, "Call me in the morning." And of course she didn't answer her phone in the morning. And why the heck didn't she let me know what time in the morning would have been a good time to connect?
I basically chalked it up to someone I wouldn't have wanted to work for anyway.

Anonymous said...

Not returning phone calls is a terrible business practrice and should not be tolerated. It's unprofessional and show a level of ignonorance.

Charles said...

"she has probably moved on and you should too"

Yep, that's most likely what has happened. At several of the places where I have been temping I have watched them post a job on Monster, CareerBuilder, etc. Then after a couple of hours, or at the latest the next day, RANDOMLY pull off ten or so resumes (from the hundreds, if not, thousands who have responded). Call folks, leave messages, and deal with the first 5 or 6 that actually touch base with them, that's it. Everyone else be screwed.

Sad to say that this is becoming the "norm" rather than the exception for so many organizations today.

You've called them twice. It is, unfortunately, time to move on.

Anonymous said...

An alternative when dealing with an HR rep for the first time is to call them, but don't leave a voice message more than one time. Just hang up and call at another time. I don't think HR will try to get back with you just because you left messages. They may just hit *delete message*, before hearing all that you say. I can just imagine them having to deal with numerous voice messages from other candidates, from their collegues, their boss, all whilst worrying about the blender they have to return to Walmart. Your message will probably be on their low priority list.

Secondly, you are cheating yourself from being in contact with them by leaving a voice message. In other words, you can possibly get away with leaving 2 voice messages (spaced a week apart atleast) with an HR rep without being viewed as overwhelming, but you can *call* (without leaving a message) an HR rep a lot more times than that and potentially catch them when they are willing to speak on the phone. If you choose to do the former, the ball is in the HR court. In the latter, the ball is in your court, because you can call them whenever you want.

Also, leaving numerous messages (key word: numerous) may come across as too eager. Imagine an HR rep listening to their voicemail and hearing your voice several times inquiring about the position, and then opening up their inbox to see an email from you. I'm not sure what sort of image this eagerness conjures up..could be bad or good.

Maybe someone can give us insight.

Anonymous said...

Something similar happened to me about a year ago. I had a recruiter contact me for a position, I sent her my resume and cover letter. She called me back to talk a little more, then told me she would contact me the following week to set up an interview with the company. After not hearing from her, I e-mailed her once and called her a few days later. No response.

To me, it's just plain rude, especially since I had already done a phone interview with her and she was supposed to be setting up an interview with the company. The least she could have done was to e-mail me and let me know they went in a different direction, so I wasn't left wondering what was going on.

I have been searching for a job for two years now (I'm employed but very ready to move on) and I am so tired of the general rudeness out there from HR and recruiters.

andrea said...

My thought on this is, do you really want to work for a company who treats people this way? While it may be common practice to treat prospective employees this way, it's not right and will eventually bite them in the ass. Karma.

shawn said...

Re: calling but not leaving messages

don't do this either. it isn't uncommon for me to be at my desk between phone screens or meetings, talking with a coworker, or just plain busy, and to just let a call go to voice mail. we are a non-profit but can afford phones with caller id. i've had candidates call every 15 minutes. it's obvious when the same number keeps calling. this looks extremely needy, besides flat out annoying me.

find an email address and use it.

Anonymous said...

Imagine calling your bank or call center about an issue with a bill and no one ever called you back despite repeated msgs? Part of your job is to follow through on committments. If youcan't do that then you're basically an incompetent failure

Anonymous said...

I've been searching for work for 18 months. My most recent experience with HR is similar, and my refences as well. They contacted them, left a message, my referees returned the call, left messages. Now the HR person has not attempted to contact them again. I already agree it's rude to treat candidates so callously, even more so to treat my referees in the same manner! Extremely unprofessional!

Anonymous said...

Karma will come back around to these rude unprofessional HR paperpushers when they are on the street!

Anonymous said...

I had this happen to me too (I'm starting to think that as far as bad pre-interview behavior goes, I've seen it all).

The worst example was in 2006. I got a call from a recruiter about a likely job, and she said she would email me the location of the interview--we'd agreed upon a time-so I could go to that upcoming Monday.

Hours went by, then a day. No email. it was Thursday by now, so I called and left a polite voice mail explaining I hadn't received the email, clarified my email address, told her I'd checked my spam, etc.

No email, no call from her. I also didn't I have either on Friday, nor monday morning. The time of the interview came and went, and I felt like an idiot because that woman couldn't have been bothered to give me the information I needed.

It only occured to me far after the fact that I could have and should have looked up the info on the 'net. At the time, I was too angry to think of it, and I sent her a tartly polite email informing her that since I never received the info, I couldn't not attend the interview as intended.

I never heard from her at all.