Stories of a jobseeker Vol. 1: Waiting by the phone

It’s been a couple of weeks since I started looking for a new job, albeit parttime as I wind down my duties with HireMatch.me. Sad to say, not much has changed in the world of job search since my last job search three years ago. To put it gently, it stills sucks.

Of course, the biggest frustration is, and probably always will be, the lack of communication. The one way flow is still the norm, with a few exceptions.

I’ve started my own spreadsheet keeping detailed records of jobs I’ve applied to, how I applied (direct, job boards, external recruiters, LinkedIn, etc.) and follow up – mine and theirs. Again, I’m just getting started but the results have been predictable. With the exception of auto-generated “Thanks for applying” emails, there isn’t much communication. I’m going to write a more detailed post about the results when I have more data.

This post is not about the overall lack of a quality candidate experience. It’s about common decency. I applied for a job in the HR Technology space on a company careers page for which I feel extremely qualified and one I think I would really excel at. A few days later an external recruiter called me and asked me questions for about 20 minutes. At the end of the conversation he told me he would call me “on Friday”, which was a few days later, to let me know either way. It’s now Tuesday and still no phone call.

It’s not that he didn’t call me back. Jobseekers are becoming somewhat immune to that, it’s that he gave me a specific date, unprompted by me. I didn’t ask about a call back. I also didn’t ask for his details so I could follow up. Rookie mistake on my part.

It’s something about giving someone a specific day that makes it sting a little more when one fails to follow through. I consider this to be somewhat of a social contract. A value I would like to pass on to my sons. I would consider it a huge parenting win if they always follow through when they tell someone they’re going to do something – especially when they assign a timeframe to it.

It’s made me think a lot about my own “social contracts” I’ve made and how I need to improve. I’ve been called a serial networker and often meet people and say “I should introduce you to so-and-so”. I think I almost always do, but occasionally fail at this (if I owe you an intro to someone please let me know). I’m also working on practicing what I preach by letting recruiters know I’m not interested when contacted about jobs outside of my search.

Social contracts like this also help build your credibility and build good will. Doing what you say you will, when you say will goes a long way with the people paying attention. On the flip side, not doing what you say you will, when you say you will gets noticed by almost everyone. Can you afford to take the risk?

Going back to recruitment and candidate experience, I doubt the company knows the recruiter failed to do what he said he would. Unfortunately, they lose control over the process, and very likely a candidate’s negative view of their company. Can companies continue to take the risk?

So lessons to be learned here:

  • Always ask for the contact information of the person who calls you
  • Let them know you will be following up with them if you don’t hear anything
  • Allows honor your own social contracts

2 comments on “Stories of a jobseeker Vol. 1: Waiting by the phone

  1. Your experience is very typical, Marc, unfortunately. When it comes to the job search, not much of it makes sense or follows common decency. But your lessons learned about valuable ones to take with you are right on. The person at the other end of the line might not be willing to honor his or her word, but you can be. It won’t make the job search world a better place necessarily, but you will at least become more savvy in dealing with it.

  2. Thanks for the comment. You’re right, jobseekers need to develop a thick skin quickly, but it doesn’t mean it’s any less frustrating. I pointed out a valuable lesson I learned in the post – always get contact information and make it clear you will follow up if you don’t hear anything. It might not result in anything, but at least you can say you’ve done all you can.

    Thanks again!

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