08 August 2011

Remember the Golden Rule

Admittedly, the last month has been a little crazy for me, hence the lack of updates. And even this morning, as I considered posting something, I had to really stop and think. What exactly do I want to say? Is it all that important? How can it help someone else?

I'm not totally convinced I've found the answer, but I'm hoping someone out there might find this useful. As I am still job hunting, this process eats up a large capacity of my brain during my waking, and more than likely sleeping, hours. Giddy hopefulness from getting a request for a phone interview to the gnawing nervousness of waiting to hear back after an in-person meeting can consume large chunks of my day, just as job searching, cover letter writing and applying can.

However, much like the reason 95% of applicants don't ever hear a peep from the companies they've applied to, getting a response following an in-person or phone interview is similarly difficult. Which forces me to ask, why?

An organization has already invested time into speaking with you or possibly meeting with you to discuss your qualifications and their needs. You've often met or spoken with at least two people within the company, who no doubt make a fairly decent salary, meaning the investment they're making in vetting you and your qualifications is significant. And yet, often, even after these in-person meetings or phone screens, recruiters and hiring managers are hesitant to let these candidates know that they are no longer interested in pursuing their candidacy for the role.

Now, I imagine there are a few reasons for this, the most logical being that people hate delivering bad news. It makes us uncomfortable, we feel bad, we empathize with the person we're "letting down gently." I get it - I despise having to tell someone something they're probably not going to want to hear. But as a job seeker, I can assure you, it is 100% better for me to know if I'm no longer in consideration for a position. It allows me the freedom to doggedly pursue another opportunity, gives me a chance to retrospectively consider the interview and how I might have done better, and makes it possible for me to mourn the loss of this opportunity and move on.

For Human Resources and the Hiring Manager, communicating this information may seem unimportant, but there is one way it can be hugely beneficial--it will stop highly interested and motivated candidates like me from sending emails or even making a call to ask what the status of the position is. Having been in a position to make hires before, I find it fifty times more difficult to respond to an inquiry from the job seeker than to beat them to the punch and be the first person to get the information out there. Once the candidate has reached out, you are now operating on the "defensive" as it has obviously been too long since the interview and they should have heard something by now.

However, I think the most important facet in letting candidates know where they stand is courtesy. You already know if you're going to offer them the job or not. Personally I feel telling someone one way or the other is the least you can do. They took time out of their life, and often, left their job for hours or even a day, to interview with you, just as you took time out of your schedule to interview them. Isn't it better for both parties to definitively know whether they got the job? I think so.

Job seeking is hard and stressful. Interviewing is anxiety-inducing at best and downright terrifying at its worst. Let's take some of the stress out of the occasion by extending common courtesies to one another. I'm reminded of kindergarten and the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have done unto you."

There's a reason this is a concept we ask five-year-olds to grasp--abiding by it would make the world an infinitely better place.


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