March 25, 2013
A call for human decency in hiring, job seeking
Job hunting is stressful -- more stressful than it needs to be when some simple human decency is missing.
First, though, a couple of reminders. As a job hunter, keep telling yourself that your timetable isn’t the same as employers’ timetables. And remember that employers care more about what you can do for them than what they can do for you.
Keeping that perspective helps a tad when the lack-of-decency experiences hit.
Lack of communication
A job candidate I learned about was one of two finalists for a top nonprofit job. She discovered the other candidate was hired through the community grapevine, not because anyone on the nonprofit board had the courtesy to call and thank her for her time and interest in the job.
Another job candidate had face-to-face job interviews with seven different organizations. Some of the organizations conducted more than one interview with the job hunter. Of the seven, only two got back to the candidate to say they’d selected someone else. The rest fell into some kind of communication black hole.
Then there are the misleading job postings that aren’t for real, immediately available jobs. The postings look like specific job openings, but they’re really just ways for recruiting companies to find candidates to add to their files.
I heard from someone who worked for a recruiting company who became distressed at raising job hunters’ hopes.
“I don’t think it’s fair or honest,” she said. “The sad thing is, the candidates who apply and are lucky enough to get invited in for an interview have no idea that the position they are applying for does not exist.”
I want to be sympathetic to understaffed human resource departments that have a lot on their plates. But I can’t understand why organizations don’t take the time and have the decency to let serious job candidates know that the job search ended with the selection of someone else.
The only possible positive to come out of such inconsiderate treatment is that disappointed job candidates may comfort themselves by knowing they won’t be working for a company that’s blind to what unhappy people tell others.
Rude job seekers
There is, though, a similar -- and justifiable -- complaint from employers.
I’ve heard shocking examples from hirers who have been burned by no-shows -- both for interview appointments and by new hires.
Consider the real-world experience of James W. Randolph, a veterinarian, who responded to a recent column about the stresses of job searches. He wrote, in part:
“Our practice has long had the policy of contacting every applicant to let them know where their application stood with us. Human decency works both ways, though.
“When we mark off appointment time for a candidate and they lack the ‘human decency’ to let us know they aren’t coming to the interview, not only is it frustrating, it’s also expensive. I could have been seeing patients in that time slot.
“Or we sign someone up for trial time, and they act all eager to be here, then don’t show up.
“This past week I hired a new young lady and asked her to arrive at 7:10 the next day. This is Monday, and we still haven’t heard from her (and, of course, don’t expect to).”
It would be bad enough if this were an infrequent syndrome, but it happens all the time. Armchair quarterbacks can make all kinds of assumptions or excuses about why applicants don’t hold up their end of the human-decency contract.
Sometimes, it’s true, they may have discovered undesirable or incompatible information about the workplace or had an emergency. But to just vanish without a word spoils the hirer/applicant relationship for people who are trying to do things the right way.
So for job-hunting boors, here are the rules:
If you have an interview appointment, show up or call ahead to explain why you cannot make it.
If you are hired, show up when you’re supposed to, or call in advance with a good explanation for why you won’t be joining the payroll.
Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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