what do employers owe job candidates?

Ask any job seeker and they’ll tell you that most employers don’t treat job candidates very well. Most have endless stories about employers who communicate poorly or not at all, advertise jobs that don’t match up with the reality of the work, and forget that candidates are evaluating the employer as much as the employer is evaluating them.

Employers may feel that they don’t have to pay much attention to the candidate experience; it’s a buyer’s market, after all. But this is short-sighted because your best candidates have options and will turn elsewhere. And it’s also pretty unkind to people who have expressed an interest in working for you.

Here are five things that every employer owes to the people applying to work for you.

1. Don’t misrepresent the work. Interviewers who make the job sound more glamorous than it really is or downplay less attractive aspects of the job—like long hours or a tyrannical boss—are guaranteeing they’ll end up with a resentful, unmotivated employee. Truth in advertising works to everyone’s advantage, because candidates who won’t thrive in the job or the culture can self-select out before they become disgruntled employees.

2. Don’t require an unreasonable investment of time up-front. More and more companies are switching to endlessly long online application forms. When candidates know there’s a good chance they won’t even get so much as an acknowledgment, it’s frustrating to spend an hour wrestling with an onerous application system simply to submit a resume.

3. Show the same consideration to a job candidate as you would to a customer. From last-minute cancellations without apology or acknowledgment of the inconvenience, to not paying attention in the interview, some employers act like their time is the only time that matters. Most candidates go to a lot of trouble to prepare for an interview—reading up on the company, taking time off work, and often traveling—and their time should be respected too.

4. Remember that interviews aren’t a one-way street. Interviews aren’t just about determining whether the company wants to hire the candidate. They’re also about the candidate figuring out if he or she even wants the job. Employers need to be open with information about the job, the company culture, and the manager, so job seekers can make informed decisions about whether the fit is right on their side too.

5. Send rejection notices. Most candidates put significant effort into preparing for a job interview–reading up on the company, practicing answers to interview questions, and thinking about how they could best offer something of value. They may take a day off work and spend time and money traveling to the interview. But when the interview is over, they often never hear from the employer again. It’s just not that hard to email a quick a form letter letting candidates know they’re no longer under consideration. Make sure your candidates get a response from you.

{ 144 comments… read them below }

  1. Frugal City Girl*

    From my perspective, it’s not (only) about what employers “owe” job candidates – it’s about what employers should be doing to ensure the best candidates aren’t turned off. There are so many applicants for every opening that maybe some companies think all the candidates owe *them* something, but they’ll be missing out on the top talent if they make these mistakes.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Absolutely. The thing is, you can do all this stuff just because it’s kind, but there’s a more self-interested reason to do it too: You will attract the best candidates and not turn them off. So conveniently, it’s both kind AND in a business’s best interests.

  2. Andy*

    Hi Alison,
    Just wanted to say thanks for this article. I just recently had an interview that I thought went really well, and then I never heard from the company again. A simple “we’ve gone in another direction” would be all I need to hear to understand and move on. I feel that there’s a certain amount of respect owed to the candidate as well, even if they aren’t a good fit.


      1. Angie S.*

        It is an epidemic and very embarrassing for someone like me who has been a part of the HR/Recruiting process for 17 yrs. Being on the other end of interviewing (again), it’s become very apparent that most of the companies I’ve interviewed with I would NOT have wanted to be hiring for, or representing. I believe in red carpet treatment of anyone who has taken time to interview – over the phone or in person.

        Take heart! There’s bound to be those hiring that still practice courtesy. Best to all of you searching!

    1. Joy*

      Same here; plus it was an out-of-state interview I traveled to on my own expense after being told “you’re our top candidate.” Even though I’m more than a little upset with them, honestly it was probably dodging a bullet if this is the usual way they do things. Flaky and rude!

      1. Andy*

        That’s where I’m started to go. Even if these guys call me back in the next day or two, do I really want to work for a company that doesn’t treat their people right? I worked hard for this interview, prepared a presentation, used my network to get the interview, and asked if it was appropriate for me to follow up, to which the reply was “yes”. Now upon trying to do so, they won’t even return the voicemail.

        Sigh….I suppose the ball is of course in their court now, but some day I hope they’re in the same position I am, and learn how easy a quick email would change things for the better.

  3. Andie*

    I agree 100%. It is especially rude to bring a person in for an interview and not have the decency to let the person know that they were not selected. It says alot about the company and the actual interviewer. This has happened to me in the past and I am more disappointed about the lack of common courtesy than I am in not getting the job.

    1. anonymous*

      One of the problems with academic searches is that the head and many members of the search committee are not HR professionals. They are stretched trying to do their own jobs and then have a job search committee assignment dumped in their laps. I know a wonderful, polite woman who, as the head of a search committee, didn’t get around to the rejection letters because she was simply swamped with all her other job duties and forgot. It’s terribly rude, but sometimes it’s just a case of people being overworked.

  4. erin*

    I would add to the list: make the requirements/qualifications of the job clear in the job description. I just got rejected for a job because I didn’t have any supervisory experience, and yet nowhere in the job description was this even listed as a qualification, nor did this come up in the interviews except for one question. I had to use 2 vacation days to interview with this company, when I may have thought twice about even applying had they been clearer about what they were looking for. They’ve now re-posted the job with one of the requirements being supervisory experience. I am grateful that they at least got back to me and let me know I wasn’t selected.

    1. fposte*

      I made this mistake badly once by failing to state a preference in a posting, and it was a reasonable, commonly obtainable preference in our candidate pool, so candidates who didn’t possess this quality really were handicapped competitors without knowing it. I still cringe about that.

    2. Suzanne*

      I had the same thing happen, although I didn’t have to go out of town to interview. And I had had some supervisory experience, but they wanted someone who could come in and “hit the ground running”, which I felt was code for “we don’t want to spend 5 minutes training you”. At least I got a phone call for that rejection. Another interview wondered if I’d ever been a team leader, although supervising was never mentioned in the job description. I said I had supervised some, but wasnt’ sure how they defined team leader. That one, I was at least rejected by mail.

      I don’t believe that currently most employers think they owe a job seeker a dang thing.

  5. Nev*

    As a someone who is on the market I don’t think companies owe me anything. Of course, I form an opinion on the way they treat applicants, because I believe every stream of communication (or lack of it) is part of the corporate culture – so probably they treat customers in a similar fashion too.
    What I believe is not working in the process as it was designed initially, is the cover letter. In my ideal job search world there would be no cover letters required. Detailed and verifiable job history profiles would be posted online to 1-3 large job search exchanges. The candidates would articulate their reasons to apply for a particular job within a company in a short statement instead of bragging about their qualifications, mapping out transferable skills, and trying to convince someone they don’t know that they are the best candidate for a position they probably don’t fully understand. Truly customized letters mean inefficient job search from the candidates’ viewpoint, while generic ones damage their credibility, so the outcome is often a trade-off. Even if HR people do read cover letters (which I doubt if they get 200-300 applications for a position on average) I see little evidence that the cover letter is a significant factor in the decision making process to forward a candidate or not. If there is a recent study or survey that has been done on this topic, please let me know.

    1. fposte*

      It may be position-dependent, though; there’s a big communication component to our work, and a cover letter operates as a sample of their communications skills in a way that a resume just doesn’t.

      1. Tonya*

        I want to know why an applicant wants THIS job and why they would be a good fit – not that they want ANY job. Someone that takes the time to write a thoughtful cover letter has a 75% higher chance of getting to the interview stage with me.

        I like #1, only because we purposely try to scare candidates in the interview with ‘a day in the life’ rundown. The job requires a great deal of time management skills and prioritization, so we don’t want anyone to be surprised if they are hired, then are overwhelmed by the extent of the position.

    2. Nev*

      Just to add a clarification: I have never had an interview without the company notifying me about my status afterwards. It may be because I followed up with the recruiter and the hiring manager, or it may be that the companies were quite well organized and thorough. It is rude, indeed, and unacceptable if a company doesn’t follow up with a candidate, who spent time, money and effort to interview with them.

      1. Mike C.*

        I interviewed with one company twice and heard nothing back from them. I was offered a job elsewhere for a whole lot more a day or two later, but I was really struck with how incredibly rude it was.

        1. Nev*

          Wow, you’ve met these people twice in person, and they didn’t bother to drop you a short email.. well, at least you know for sure that this isn’t a company you want to work for. Happy that it all worked out well for you.

  6. Thebe*

    Whenever I interview a candidate that we choose not to hire, I always call them. I say thank you for coming in and we enjoyed meeting you, etc. My colleague, who splits these duties with me, always emails them instead, but I prefer to call.

    This has worked out well for us, since sometimes chosen candidates end up taking another job instead or turn out to be a bad fit, and so you end up contacting the second choice you just rejected. Which I actually just did — we hired an intern and then had a last-minute project where we needed a second, temporary intern. Our second-place candidate was happy to do it, and he’s a great asset.

    Yeah, sometimes you find yourself in a “why didn’t you pick me” conversation, but that’s OK, it’s no big deal. I just say we went with someone with more experience and in this tough economy we had many high-quality applicants, etc.

    1. Joy*

      May I just say that if some of your candidates are like me they may prefer to get an email. The first thing I think when I hear someone say, “This is X from Y” I’m thinking – DID I JUST GET THIS JOB?!! And then it is very hard to stay unemotional when the next words are “Sorry to let you know.” And then it’s even worse when the person is trying to have a conversation when all I want to do is get off the phone. An email informs you, but doesn’t require you to hold your emotions in check: you can immediately throw things, lol.

      Also, I never understand why employers postal mail rejection letters after I *emailed* the application. Just kind of weird.

      1. Suz*

        I agree. Worse yet is when it’s a postcard. Being rejected is bad enough without your mail carrier and roommates to find out you’ve been rejected before you do.

      2. Rana*

        I’d prefer an email, too. I sometimes have difficulty processing and retaining purely verbal information, so having something I can look at is better for me. That way I have no doubts about what the message was; especially if the news is bad, I tend to blank out after the first few words, and don’t catch the details that follow — and sometimes those details are really important!

        1. Laura L*

          I sometimes have difficulty processing and retaining purely verbal information, so having something I can look at is better for me.

          Me too! I’ve never been able to say it this clearly though, thanks for clarifying my thoughts!

          1. Dana*

            Agh, I have the same problem! It was such a problem in grad school when they would count participation- I wasn’t really able to process/think fast enough to get into debates or share opinions until I’d thought it through.

            On the positive side, I rarely fight with people because I rarely respond emotionally since I have to think everything through.

    2. Anonymous*

      To add to Joy’s comment, how do you know how the person will take it? If you email, then they’ll probably just end up yelling at the computer, and the poor computer ends up taking the brunt of the abuse. But, in a phone call, you are going to end up being abused verbally.

        1. Anonymous*

          Basically, there are pros and cons to both sides. My personal preference is a letter or email. As a candidate I called once to follow up since it had been 3 weeks since the interview (no email address for interviewer) and she was absolutely rude. She was like “what do you want” and I told her. Oh we already picked someone so I guess you weren’t it! At least in a letter, they have to be formal and shouldn’t be saying anything out of line like that! But yes, I can see the fight with the spam folder and whatnot.

    3. Natalie*

      I have to agree that I would prefer an email to a phone call. I actually just got a rejection email yesterday, and since I wasn’t having a great morning already it was like being socked in the gut. I’m not sure I would have been very composed over the phone.

      1. Piper*

        Agreed. A phone call would suck. I’m in a very crappy job situation after a previously crappy job situation, so I’m very down in the dumps right now after several years of this. I am desperate to get out and the last thing I feel like doing is talking to someone about how I just wasn’t good enough for the job. Just send an e-mail.

        1. Anonymous*


          Please do not call me unless we are moving forward. It’s hard enough right now, and I can’t promise I’ll be at my best during a phone call if you tell me I was not chosen.

          I really think mail or email allows candidates to save face better.

  7. Tater B.*

    The only thing I’d really like is for employers to understand what it’s like to be in today’s job market. It’s more than competitive–it’s downright TOUGH. Everyday, there are replies on AAM about people who have been rejected ad nauseum; not because they are lazy or bad employees, but simply because the competition is so fierce. That or they already had an internal hire, but that’s another post for another time.

    What I’d really like to tell some of these smug interviewers is that one day, it could very well be you. Let’s see how easy it is when they wake up every morning to an inbox full of rejections or no response at all!

    1. K*

      Thank you! Try explaining that to friends that are still employed and think that any job is better than no job. I’ve noticed that my employed friends seem to think it’s that simple to find a steady, decent paying job. It’s tough, especially if you are in a big metro area. I don’t care how many networking contacts you have. It’s still a rough market.

      1. Kelly O*

        THANK YOU.

        Seriously, I live in a Major Metropolitan Area – you would not believe the people who say “wow it must be easy to find a job in that large market!” No, it’s not. If anything it’s harder, because you have more competition, and you have to deal with figuring out where a job is physically located. It my be in Houston, but if it’s on the other side of town it’s going to take me an hour in middle-of-the-day traffic to get there, at least.

        Never mind that makes me feel like a bloody idiot for not finding something quickly after ramping up the search.

        Sort of on the original topic – I also have to say one thing that frustrated me a bit was getting a cold call from a recruiting agency about a position and then never hearing another word, no email, no phone call, and when I call to follow up the recruiter never takes my call. I just gave up with that one, but I thought it was kind of inconsiderate to approach me and then just disappear without a word.

        1. K*

          We must be having a cosmic connection. In regards to your “sort of” topic, I had the same thing happen recently. The corporate recruiter of an ad agency scheduled a phone interview with a VP. She e-mailed to cancel because the hiring manager was in a meeting. She then stated that she would reschedule. I e-mailed a few days later expressing my interest and she hasn’t returned a response. I’m thinking it’s a lost cause….

          In regards to the metro areas, I’ve been in that situation twice. I find that 10 AM is a bad hour to do an interview. I was late to a couple of interviews last fall because of heavy traffic b/t 7:30-9AM on the main freeway. Not a good feeling!

        2. Anonymous*

          Living in this major metropolitan area, it will help you much to investigate the area of town – and unfortunately, it’s a city where you often have “to be in the know” to be able to locate anything. If you are living outside the beltway, you need to know how to drive into town for any of those positions. I have several friends who have been turned down simply due to location – if a company needs someone who can come in for an emergency, there is no sense in hiring from Conroe to work in League City.

          That being said, our area is adding jobs rapidly. Doesn’t make finding work any easier – but it is looking up. I’d also keep in mind that though our salaries seem low to other major metropolitan areas, our cost of living is lower. (not THAT much lower, but there is a difference) I would also concentrate your search not on any large job boards but by individual companies. It may take up more time, but is the most efficient method (imo) for this area.

          1. K*

            I took my resume off of job boards with the exception of LinkedIn. The boards are too spammy with recruiters and old job postings that remain on the board a year later :).

            One of my main goals has been identifying companies that I am interested in and expanding my network (not ask for a job) with new contacts . This process does take longer, but I’m willing to search for information and leads.

        3. tango*

          Oh yes, preach it sister. I am in the same boat, applying for jobs in Houston. It could take me 2 hours plus to get across town because I live 35 minutes outside the city already. My local area has zilch for opportunities so I’ve got no choice but to look in the city and I’m even going to relocate to be closer when I find a new job.

          That is also another pet peeve of mine. Job postings that say the job is located in “Houston”, “Phoenix”, “Chicago”, etc. Especially for a company with multiple offices located in that city. Well instead of saying just the city, how about a zip code of the actual physical address of the job location? That way, if the job sounds like something I’d like to apply to, I can google the zip code to see what kind of commute I’m looking at so to decide if it’s workable before I even bother spending my time or the employers time.

          1. Kelly O*

            I’m in a northeast suburb, and every agency call I’ve gotten has been down on Westheimer near the Galleria. I met a recruiter down near Bellaire, because she had a position in The Woodlands, but it apparently fell through. The interview I had was over by the Galleria.

            I’m trying to identify companies more on this side of town, but I spend half my life in Google Maps, trying to figure out how long it would REALLY take to get there.

            1. Anonymous*

              I would be happy to help you with this – one of you seems to be near Aldine and I will guess a Katy poster? Half of living here is learning how to get places, or where to live. (For renters out there I can help) I have an anon e-mail I would be happy to share with AAM. (I am sure there are no serial killers here but…) If you all send me your area of town I can send you good tips. (I am not a serial killer but we’ll play it safe!)

              1. Anonymous*

                To clarify – I wouldn’t dream of asking a stranger for their address! I am not selling vacuums!

  8. Mike C.*

    Here’s another thing owed: a SALARY RANGE.

    If I walk into a McDonalds, I know exactly how much I’m going to pay for a burger. This is business and we’re all adults here.

    1. Piper*

      Oh, this! I hate wasting my time on some crazy, arduous online application only to find out that the salary is 30K less than I’m making now. I have no idea why employers won’t disclose this information. It would save everyone a ton of trouble.

      1. Mike C.*

        They feel they can save a few thousand a year by playing games, when really that extra money would improve morale and employee loyalty.

    2. T.A.*

      I completely agree with you, Mike. I think putting down a salary range would do everyone a favor for those involved.

      My alma mater and the federal government are the ones that I noticed that include salary range. And my alma mater is a private university, which says something.

      HR and the hiring manager(s) often know the salary range based on experience, so I think it is a bit silly for employers to be coy when it come to disclosing the salary range.

      My biggest pet peeve in looking at job postings is seeing a salary range posted as this: “salary commensurate with experience.” The reason why I hate this is because like I said, HR and the hiring manager(s) often know the salary range of the advertised position. And it calls a salary range for a reason – it is based on experience! So when a job seeker see a salary range, they would see the minimum and maximum of the position. They would not be left wondering if the salary range fit within one job seeker’s salary expectations when applying for jobs.

      1. Andrea*

        My husband was contacted on LinkedIn last week by an HR rep with a local company about a position they have available. He has a good job, but he went to the site and read the description and replied that he was pretty happy in his job but that he would be willing to consider the right opportunity. He mentioned in his email that he had read the posting from the website, and he asked “What else can you tell me about this position?” The HR rep replied with a link to the job posting, which he’d seen and which he had told her that he had read. So then he asked what the salary range was for the position and let her know that he wanted to make sure that they weren’t wasting each other’s time. She replied with this coy response, wanting to know what he was looking for. Ridiculous. I mean, he has a job, and he’s compensated fairly, and there are lots of perks like working from home 70% of the time (with me!) and bonuses. He’s highly skilled and talented, with several sought-after IT certifications. He doesn’t have to play these games–remember, she’s the one who found him. I don’t think he is going to bother to write back to her again. If it were me, I’d say that I was happy working at a place that respects their professional staff enough not to play those silly games.

        To my way of thinking, the first mistake was having an HR rep doing this. I don’t think HR should have much of a role in hiring at all. The second was sending a link to the posting that he’d already told her that he’d read, and the third was this dumb attempt to be all secretive about the salary range–with someone who is already employed, no less. Too many red flags…and he really IS happy at his current job. But this crap with salary games is stupid, and skilled people don’t have to put up with it.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Employers who won’t list salary ranges will tell you that it’s because everyone assumes they should be at the top of the range and then gets upset/disappointed when that’s not where their offer is. In other words, if you advertise that the job pays 50-65K, everyone thinks, “great, low to mid 60s, that’ll work for me.” And then if you offer them $52k because that’s where their experience puts them in your range, they’re disappointed and feel like they’re being undercut because, after all, they know you’re willing to pay up to $65k. Now, ideally the employer can explain how the scale works and why they fit where they do, in a way that the candidate finds convincing*, but that’s the reason more of them don’t publicize it from the start.

        * That’s the tricky part.

        1. A Bug!*

          I think that some people look at the job requirements a bit like a high school assignment, where meeting the requirements is enough to net an ‘A.’

          In hiring, meeting the requirements is what gives you the privilege of being ‘graded’ at all (unless the job posting is untruthful), so the applicants had better be thinking about what things that can put them above and beyond those minimums.

        2. Malissa*

          Wouldn’t pay starts at $50K be the better option? That would at least give the candidates an idea. Personally I’m not interested in the range, I really want to know where the minimum is, that’s going to be a deciding factor for me when looking at a job.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Possibly, except then you risk losing the guy who won’t consider anything below $65k and who’s good enough that you’d gladly pay him $65k, except he interprets “pay starts at $50k” as meaning that you won’t be able to do $65k. That’s a real risk, and you don’t want that awesome guy to not apply.

            (I’m explaining other employers’ thinking here, not my own. I talk salary up-front because I don’t want to waste my time or theirs.)

        3. T.A.*


          That’s an interesting point of view, but I still feel it is not a good reason to not post the salary range. In fact, I think it is kind of silly. If an employer posted a job with a salary range and the employer offer a selected candidate a salary near the minimum and that person becomes disappointed/upset, then it is obvious the person is not right fit for the company. And really, it is the candidate’s problem, not yours.

          What I do is when I see a job posting with a salary range, I look at the minimum and I asked myself, “Could I live with it? Could I live with X salary?” If so, then I could try to negotiate other benefits that may be offer along with the salary. I know it is more complicated than that, but that’s how I see it. I am not saying, one should (or could) not negotiate for a higher salary, but one should know what he is getting himself into when applying for a position with a posted salary range.

          I just feel that reason only is not sufficient to not post salary range with job postings. I just think it is a cop-out and really lame. And as I stated in other comments, I am so glad that my alma mater posted salary range as well as the federal/state government, it makes it so easier for all involved.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Oh yeah, I agree. I’m a big proponent of talking about salary up-front. So I’m not defending or pushing this point of view, just explaining it.

        4. Mike C.*

          Then they need to start hiring adults instead of children.

          I work at a private employer with over 150,000 employees, and every job and level has a pay range based on location. It’s very easy for us to look it up (and we’re encouraged to!) and the majority of us who are starting are no where near the upper end. Plenty of folks work for government agencies with published wages.

          And yet, we haven’t fallen apart. We don’t have people constantly crying and moaning that they aren’t at the top of the pay scale. And the reason is exactly why you mention: the employer has stated what it takes to get to the higher ranges.

          I understand the fear is there, but as an employer you need to be willing to say, “Hey we pay on merit using the following system and if you want more money this is what you need to do”. If not then what does an employer expect the reaction to be?

        5. Joey*

          Ive seen this happen because a manager never clarifies what the range actually is. They’re so focused on hiring someone quickly they just use the previous persons salary as a guide and only bring up salary issues with higher ups when they start discussing salary needs of their best candidate.

    3. Esra*

      One thousand ‘yes’s.

      I’m in an industry where job postings tend to not be written by people doing the work, so they don’t know what to ask for, and end up asking for everything. The salary range really helps narrow down what level of skill/experience they are actually looking for/if they are realistic and not crazy people.

    4. Diana*

      I love this and wish it were true.

      The problem is that you’re not the buyer. The employer is the buyer and they want to know your [burger] price so they can decide whether to buy. It would be nice though if you knew how much was in their pocket just to see if they’re looking for something off the dollar menu or going for a couple of super-sized combo meals. Really, this analogy doesn’t work.

      Maybe it’s more like a flee market where the buyer (employer) doesn’t reveal how much they want to spend and tries to haggle the seller (candidate) down to get a bargain. I’ve had people haggle $5 dollar items down at yard sales and then pull out their $20 bill and ask for change. It’s frustrating, but it’s all in what they’re willing to pay and what you’re willing to accept.

      Maybe they’re saving the other $17 bucks for a couple of combo meals at McDonalds.

      1. Kelly O*

        What I really dislike is the recruiter who asked me my pay rate at each and every job I’ve previously had. Just because I work for $X right now does not mean that’s where I want to be, or even where market is right now.

  9. Anonymous*

    “advertise jobs that don’t match up with the reality of the work” – Ugh!!!

    A couple months into my previous job, it became crystal clear that the job was very different from what I was expecting. I had paid close attention to descriptions in job postings and asked many questions during the interviews. I realized the reality of the work was never going to get me to where I wanted to be. Gave it some time, in case things changed, but that didn’t happen. Tried my best to make the most of it, but I was not challenged enough and was getting bored. It was very frustrating.

    Obviously, I continued job searching, but it’s wasn’t easy to job search while holding this position. Plus, I had concerns that it wouldn’t look good to leave a position after such a short period of time. Anyway, I ended staying there for over a year due to the economy before finally moving on to something that was a much better fit. During my exit interview, I mentioned that the job was quite different from what was advertised. The company reposted the exact same job posting with zero revisions.

    1. Piper*

      This happened to me at my current job. What I’m doing now has nothing (zero, zilch, nada!) to do with the job description. I truly feel like it was a bait and switch situation.

      Like you, I tried to make the best of a boring job that wouldn’t have been a challenge for me even if was my first job out of college. I’ve been trying to get out for several months, but so far no luck yet (hopefully soon). I even brought up in my 90-day review that this job is nothing like what was advertised or what we discussed in my interviews. Their response was, “oh, yeah, we know, but there’s nothing we can do about that.” Nice.

      The ridiculous thing is, they are paying me way too much to do this job as it is (although, it’s fair market for what the job was supposed to be) and they’re sitting on the skills and experience that I bring to the table. I have no idea why an employer would want to piss away money like that, but I guess they really don’t care.

      1. Original Commenter*

        Sorry to hear you’re in this situation! Yuck.

        During my 90-day review and 1-year reviews, I mentioned that it was quite different from what I was expecting. There wasn’t very much my manager could do about it, but he didn’t even acknowledge that the job was not advertised accurately. Not at all.

        Yep, I know how you feel about having skills and experience that the employer is just sitting on and not taking advantage of. They made a huge deal that I needed to have certain skills/experience, but completely ignored it all once I got there. Basically, everything I learned in school and at previous positions went to waste during that year.

        1. K*

          OC during your review did you ask why you were not assigned tasks based on the skills that were advertised? Your former manager doesn’t sound very helpful. They should’ve have taken your concerns into consideration before they re-posted the job. Since they didn’t revise, hopefully the hiring manager is more honest about the job roles to the newer candidates.

        2. Piper*

          Yes, so frustrating! My employer also made a big deal out of the skills and experiences I had and they were very emphatic that they needed someone with those skills. In fact, they told me they had a very hard time finding someone with the skillset they wanted and had rejected other candidates who had most of the skills in the job description, but were missing the key skills I was bringing. And then they end up not using ANY of the skills listed in the job description (key skills or otherwise). So bizarre.

        3. fposte*

          This is one of the advantages of staying on good terms with employees as they leave–they can help you tailor the job ad to better reflect what’s actually needed.

          1. Original Commenter*

            K, I did ask them about the assigned tasks. They basically said that they’d hired me because they *wanted* me to do what was advertised, but as a company, they just weren’t at that point. In reality, there really weren’t that many projects that offered those opportunities. The attitude was very much “oh, we want to get there, but we’re just not there yet”.

            There were some assignments very loosely related to what they advertised. There were also tasks that, frankly, reminded me of my very first internship right out of school. Nothing wrong with those assignments, but it’s not what I signed up for. I’m sure there are well qualified individuals better suited for that position. It just wasn’t what I was looking for. Wish they were more honest upfront.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Wow. You should have told them that you *wanted* to have the Excel skills that you’d advertised (or whatever skills they did want you to use) but in fact you just weren’t there yet. But you wanted to get there eventually!

            2. Piper*

              Have we been working for the same company in the same job? This is nearly an exact mirror to what I’ve been experiencing. My boss also told me that much of the job description was what they were hoping the job would turn out to be, but oh, well, we don’t really need this after all, and probably never will. Sorry, nothing we can do about it now!

              And yep, most of the tasks I’m doing are things an entry level person would do (and I’m up around 10 years of experience with each job increasing in responsibility, so this is exceedingly painful for me).

              1. Anonymous*

                This sounds like my job, too. (I’m an admin, but I can do WAY more than set up meetings and file things!) I was asked things like “Can you take meeting minutes?” Yup. Was never asked to take meeting minutes. “Excel?” Yup. I almost never even open Excel. “Word, etc?” Yup. I’m lucky if I have anything to do in Word or PowerPoint once a month.

                As my boyfriend put it, I’m a well paid door stop. Talk about demoralizing.

                Yes, I have asked for more work, but no one will give me any.


  10. Ceep*

    Here is a view from the other side…as a hiring/HR manager…
    Re: following up…this goes both ways. I GUARANTEE you that if you send a thank you letter, I will get back to you…however, after having done this job for over 15 years, I would say about 1% of candidates follow up and if you are applying for a sales job, part of the process is to see how well you do follow up, and if you do not…well, you are not a fit for our sales team. Now, I agree, if you follow up and you are still not told what is going on, that is rude.

    Re: Salary ranges…again this goes both ways, if it is a concern, then please ask! I can honestly say that sometimes we do not have a salary range or we did have a salary range but then a candidate blew us away who was either clearly WAY above our range or much more junior than we thought we wanted (but we saw incrediable potential)…and our ranges are no longer relevant and if we had posted the range, maybe those candidates would not have applied and we would have never seen them and been able to hire them. Also, and yeah, this is a bit harsh, but unfortunately, a large number of candidates overestimate how much they are “worth”.

    Having said all that…heck yeah, a company should give a realistic picture of the company and the position. In fact, by doing that, the interviewer has a far easier job because people will self select, or deselect themselves.

    1. fposte*

      It sounds like you’re saying that a thank-you is a requirement for being notified of a decision there, and if so, I can’t agree. (And yes, I’m speaking from the hiring side.) A job application is a question, and I think it deserves an answer. I can understand preferring candidates who write a thank-you–that’s perfectly justified–but I hope you still notify candidates whether they followed up or not.

      1. Ceep*

        Fposte…no, what I am saying is courtesy goes both ways. Why would a candidate demand a response from someone that they have not bothered to reach out to themselves? Why does the candidate get a pass on common decent courtesy? Plus, look at it this way, in an interview, the candidate is interviewing the company as well, so why wouldn’t they follow up to confirm their interest – or the opposite, maybe they realize they are not the right person.

        actually, what I do say to EVERYONE I interview is that I try my best to touch base with them regarding our decision, and I give them a time line, and I tell them if they have not heard from me, or if they need to know an answer sooner, then to please reach out to me. Fact is, life, work etc gets away from me…and yup, sometimes I forget to let the unsuccessful ones know, although in my defence, not very often…but yeah, it happens.

      1. Long Time Admin*

        THIS is what I have run into, time after time!

        I guess we’re supposed to be mind readers, too.

      2. Ceep*

        Let me ask you this…re: this “secret” requirements comment. If a company was looking for a marketing person, and one of the job requirements stated that you had to be able to communicate well in written form, and you sent in a resume and cover letter riddled with spelling mistakes, and lacked any cohesive thought process…is it a secret requirement that you actually NEED to have written communication skills?

        You pass judgement when you have absolutely no context. Why would a sales job having a requirement of being tenacious and following up be “secret”?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m okay with it for sales jobs, but for anything else I would think it was really unfair (and unwise too; you could lose great candidates).

    2. T.A.*


      It is always nice to hear from the hiring manager/HR’s perspective!

      Regarding salary ranges – can you think of a general reason why many employers do not have a salary range? I know you can’t speak for every employer, but I am curious about why an employer may not have a salary range. I think it is a bit bizarre that they do not.

      As for asking the salary range – again – the majority of employers play coyly with this piece of information. They would ask us, the candidate, what’s our salary range are, but then again, like you mentioned, many job seekers (candidates) overestimate their “worth.”

      Also, do you think because the lack of posting salary range on job postings is a correlation of candidates overestimating how much they are worth?

      I hope I am not putting you on the spot or anything – I just wanted to pick your brian and get a general reasoning regarding the attempt to be secretive when it come to salary ranges.

      1. Ceep*

        No problem…not putting me on the spot, but I can only speak for why our company, or the companies I have worked for do not post salary ranges.

        When I say we do not have a range, that is not strictly true, but it is because we simply have not decided what level of candidate we want yet, and we want to start seeing who is out there, in my industry the range for one type of job, depending on seniority could range from 52K up to 110K. So yeah, it could be because the company is casting their net very wide at that point, and in my industry this works for us, but may not for other industry where it is fairly clear cut that a senior resource is far more preferable to a junior or intermediate resource (or vice versa, the company simply will not budge on the budget and will not hire a senior resource due to budget constraints)

        Other reasons why companies may not be upfront with this info is that they just might not know, or they might be embarrassed by the range and really want to try and impress the candidate with the other aspects of the job… And I like to think that companies are not like this but I do suspect some companies do this because they just want to get away with spending as little as they can…this is wrong, IMO, but I know it happens.

        As for there being a correlation between lack of posting and candidates overestimating…not sure, it could be a competitive thing, ie, Pepsi does not want Coke to know how much they are paying their accountants. Personally I do not post the salary ranges because I do not want to lose anyone because of that range, also for the reasons I mentioned above, sometimes my ranges provide no information whatsoever!!

        Now, having said all that…once I have a better idea of the candidate skill set and experience, I am quite happy to provide a range, and will do so…often unprompted, which actually causes some of the other hiring managers undue stress because I do think it is a bit old school to “play the game”. It is also still prevalent management thinking that all candidates should be asking what they can do for the company and not what the company can do for them…not saying this is right, just that this is the way some managers do think.

        All of this has me thinking though and I do wonder what people think about this…do you want to know right away if it is a no? As in when we wrap up the interview, one of the managers thanks you for coming in but lets you know right then and there that you are not suitable? I am wondering what people’s thoughts are on that…maybe I will ask this question further down so it is not buried in my answer.

  11. K*

    BTW AAM, have you thought about getting together with other HR bloggers like you to start a consultancy gig to help transform hiring managers and HR management? There are so many companies out their that could use your advice ;)!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m too happy with what I’m doing now! But if they would pay me to sit on my couch all day and just answer people’s questions by email, with a maximum of three phone calls a week, I would be all in.

      (By the way, minor correction: I’ve never been in HR. I am actually quite suspicious of the HR side of things, with the exception of the evilHRlady.org.)

      1. Kelly O*

        Um, if that turns into a paying gig, let me know. Because I can tell someone else what they need to do all day long. (It’s just me I can’t figure out.)

        Since I’ve not been “in the biz” at all, I will take ten phone calls a week to start, and we can whittle down from there as my (clearly untapped) popularity takes off.

      2. K*

        Hmmm, “suspicious of the HR side of things”? Explain that one :)! I think it should be one of your future topics.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I see too many HR people who are overly focused on process and bureaucracy and forms, and who get so caught up in protecting the company from legal risk that they lose their ability to weigh risk appropriately. HR’s job should be to facilitate the company’s ability to achieve its goals, but sometimes it becomes an outpost of its own, serving its own needs rather than the company’s.

          Of course, that’s certainly not all HR people (we have some great HR people who comment here regularly, and there is always the great Evil HR Lady), but there’s too much of that happening.

          1. Long Time Admin*

            Some HR departments are given way too much power over hiring, too. In my current company, the hiring manager is told by HR who the new employee is. Sometimes they don’t even know the name of their new team member until the person shows up for work.

          2. Joey*

            HR focuses on process, consistency and rules because they have to clean up the mess of managers who don’t adhere to them. But I agree those things shouldn’t drag things to a halt. There are almost always ways to meet the goals of both the manager and HR. it just takes some flexibility.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Oh yeah, I don’t have an inherent problem with process, consistency, and rules. I generally like those things. My objection is when HR loses sight of the ultimate goal and has rules for rules’ sake. And their losing the ability to appropriately weigh risk is something that drives me crazy.

              1. Joey*

                Yes, too many people (including hr folks) look to fix things with a band aid instead of stepping back and looking for the root of the problem.

          3. Ceep*

            LOL, I am in HR and I have to 100% agree with this statement. There are some bitter, mean people in HR…it is the sad truth. But there are also enlightened HR people who truly want to build a kick ass team and will do what needs to be done to create the type of environment where individuals and the company will thrive. I have worked with both types.

  12. Jaime*

    I think the most frustrating thing is that it’s so easy to do. Common courtesy is owed between strangers, no matter the relationship. Also, this idea that you’re doing someone a favor by hiring them is both false and arrogant. You *may* do a friend a favor by emphasizing their candidacy, but just simply posting about an open position and taking applications is no favor. The same as it is no favor for someone to accept that position. It is a business transaction. Both parties need something and are trying to come to terms, no one is doing anyone any favors there.

    1. Mike C.*

      Given that a business hires someone when that person can make more money for the business than it costs them to employ means that the employee is doing the favor.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Not really, though, because the employee presumably isn’t able or doesn’t want to go into business for herself, so needs an employer so that she can earn income. I’d rather look at it as a mutual business partnership where both have something to gain.

        1. Mike C.*

          Fair point.

          But what I wanted to get away from is this idea that an employee causes a net lose for the company. It shouldn’t and if it does there is no reason to hire them in the first place.

      2. jmkenrick*

        I’m not sure I agree with that, since that implies that employees are entitled to all the profits they earn. That sounds nice, but it falls apart when you realize they wouldn’t be able to earn those profits without the structure of the business that’s been set-up (and funded) by others. Additionally, some of those profits have to go to things like office supplies, rent, travel expenses – or to employees who serve a useful purpose in helping the business run but don’t actually bring in outside profits.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Lots of employees don’t directly generate profits but are still essential to the smooth running of the business, so that other people can generate profits (think, for instance, of a receptionist or accountant).

            1. Mike C.*

              Right, so they either save money for the company through efficiency or they allow the company to even operate in a regulated industry (quality management comes to mind, as does legal). Maybe not easy to measure a specific number, but in general someone should be hired if and only if their contribution to the company is greater than their cost to employ. But I’m getting nitpicky here and I don’t think it’s being useful to anyone :p

              Your model of “mutual benefit” is still the one I’d go for. The idea that a favor is being done is kind of silly.

          2. jmkenrick*

            I was thinking of IT specifically – you need computers to operate, but your IT doesn’t actually earn you any money directly. They get their keep indirectly, through providing the support that allows direct earners to do their job.

            1. jmkenrick*

              AAM brings up good examples too.

              I’m not trying to argue that the employer is doing the employee any favors (they certainly shouldn’t be, it’s a business, after all). But I don’t think that favor goes the other way around either. Both ways it should be a business decision.

  13. The Other Dawn*

    1. Don’t misrepresent the work.

    Now that I am part of the hiring process, I’m the one who goes in and tells the applicant what kind of work she is really going to be doing. It annoys me when i hear my boss or another member of management just give the applicant the highlights. We might like a candidate, but unless we talk specific details we can’t really get a good sense as to whether she is right for the job. Everyone is potentially right for the job when you talk in generalities, but saying, “we expect you to be able to figure out how to make XYZ work with little guidance or written procedures and not be afraid to get your hands dirty” is different, in my opinion, than saying, “we need someone who works well on their own.”

    1. jmkenrick*

      I work great on my own!

      Assuming, of course, that the job entails eating popcorn and reading mystery novels.

      1. Kelly O*

        See, and I would be good at eating cupcakes and reading histories. I even have them on my Kindle already, just waiting to be read. So I’m more than halfway there.

  14. Anonymous*

    I had an interviewer totally misunderstand my resume and he did not question me about it to clarify things in his mind. He assumed he knew the answers and no matter what I told him – because, you know, I lived through my own life – he didn’t accept the answers. What was it all about? This would have been one of my first jobs right out of college so all I had done were internships and on-campus jobs. So the dates were short and jobs somewhat numerous, but I saw every job through to the end. But he didn’t understand that, and he didn’t care to ask exactly how those figured. He simply called me a job hopper and that was that. He already had someone lined up for a job, but he was quite disrespectful to me.

      1. Anonymous*

        Shortly thereafter, the company went into financial troubles, and lay-offs occurred, including the position I was interviewing for. A little while later, he too left, but I don’t know if he was forced to or if he quit on his own accord. And still, the company is suffering.

  15. phineyj*

    I agree 100% about the incredible rudeness of not bothering to even send a brief email telling people they haven’t got the job. I mean, back in the days of typing out and sending a letter it did take longer but emails are so quick. I used to work in the arts and it wasn’t uncommon to get several hundred artists or performers apply for a role or a commission. Often a quarter of those would sound really good, but there was only one opportunity to offer. I made a point of always contacting everyone and quite regularly got thank yous for rejections from people who said how awful it was to never hear back when they auditioned for things.

    A while back, a head hunter called me several times about a job for which I was clearly far too junior, but they were insistent that they wanted to talk to me, had me send them lots of info about myself, etc…then rejected me because I didn’t have sufficient experience — which had been evident to me from the outset. It was a bizarre experience and all I could think was they must have to produce a list showing they’d considered a certain number of candidates, even if they were completely implausible ones!

    1. Kelly O*

      Having worked in state-funded higher education in a previous life, I will tell you that sometimes yes, you have to interview a minimum number of potential hires, and you have to document all the race, gender, age issues, and be painfully detailed in explaining why you hired the individual you hired – particularly if you hired a white male.

      There were times I wanted to take a red marker and write ‘HE WAS THE MOST QUALIFIED PERSON – WHY DO YOU NOT GET THAT?” at the bottom of the form, but refrained because, you know, not professional and all. But it was painful to bring in people knowing they were not really what we needed, but we HAD to get that specific number hit before we could make a hiring decision. It got to the point of my just asking for everyone on their list, and we narrowed it down. If you asked the career center to do it, it took forever.

    2. Anonymous*

      When I began my job search, my mother had told me stories about where she worked. As a secretary, it was her job to type out the form rejection letters and send them into the boss to sign. But everyone who sent in a resume got one of those if they were rejected. If they didn’t even interview, they got one!

      But that was in the 1960s and 1970s.

  16. Accidental Recruiter*

    I had three interviews at a company a few years back and was basically offered the job but was waiting for final approval before they could make it official.

    And then I never heard from them again.

    I tried following up multiple times but heard nothing, not one word. Needless to say I was miffed until a few months later I found out both managers I had interviewed with had been let go.

    Obviously that’s no the norm and as a recruiter myself I always to my best to follow up, but sometimes things happen that aren’t a reflection on us or the company that is hiring.

  17. Anonymous*

    I think this could be subtitled What Managers Owe to HR/Recruiting. I know in my experience many times the recruiter would like to get back to the candidate, but the manager twiddles their thumbs thinking candidates are just going to wait forever. With respect to misrepresenting the work, I can’t tell you how many times we have to have a unicorns don’t exist conversation with managers. They send us job descriptions that are filled with obscure/high level/difficult to find skills and then want to pay the bottom of the range. Then after we spend weeks searching for a unicorn, they show up with a horse for hire and tell us “oh no even though I said those skills were required, I meant optional”. It’s frustrating for candidates and it’s frustrating to your recruiting team.

    1. Nev*

      Couldn’t agree more. Some job descriptions just don’t sound plausible: a ton of skills and experience required for an assistant or middle management position. Or a rare combination of a technical/scientific education, industry background and vast marketing experience. As a candidate I doubt if such positions hold realistic expectations for the future employee, and rarely apply even if I meet over 90% of the criteria.

      1. Piper*

        This is so true. I recently interviewed for a position that was supposed to be a senior level position. They wanted someone with 10 years of experience and a rare combination of skills, but the pay was more like entry level pay. And then they are wondering why they are having a hard time filling the position.

        Also, Camellia yes! I see this all the time in the digital marketing world. Seriously people, it’s flat out impossible to have 10 years of experience in social media marketing, and yet, I see postings with this requirement all the time.

        1. K*

          Ugh! Same frustration. I work in digital marketing too and I’m thinking about switching career fields because of all the BS I’ve experienced while looking for work in this field.

          I’m also noticing a trend where they are consolidating 2-3 different types of DM roles into one and expecting candidates to know every single 3rd-party analytics tool listed in a job description.

          1. Piper*

            Yes, I’m seeing this trend, too. And I, too, am considering leaving the field (to open my own business, actually). It just seems that job requirements are becoming more and more unrealistic and unfocused, even for someone like me who could be considered a marketing generalist with specializations in a few specific areas. It just seems impossible to fulfill minimum job requirements these days.

            It’s so bad that I have yet to interview for a job that wouldn’t require me to take a (fairly significant) pay cut but at the same time requires more responsibility.

      2. tango*

        Oh yes, unlrealistic expectations combined with low salary. For example I saw a job posting that went something like this: must speak fluent Mandarin Chinese, have a college degree, be legally authorized to work in the US, have minimum 5 years recent experience in petrochemical industry. Pay: $12 an hour.

        Oh boy, I bet their inbox was flooded with applicants.

        1. Kelly O*

          Just this morning I saw one for a clearly lower-level administrative support job – answering phones, sorting mail, running errands, scheduling meetings, nothing really over the top.

          Requirements included an undergraduate degree (NON-NEGOTIABLE in big bold all caps), five years experience in an office environment, advanced Excel, and bi-lingual. All for $13/hour. With mandatory overtime (also emphasized a couple of times.)

          I wanted to send an email to the address listed saying “good luck with that.”

          1. Anonymous*

            Hahahaha! That’s hilarious.

            I generally roll my eyes and move on when I see those.

    2. Camellia*

      As an IT person I am still dumbfounded to occasionally see a posting that requires ten years experience for something that has only been around three to five years.

      I just file it under “things that make you go hmmm…”.

      1. Jamie*

        Yep. That’s a red flag to me that HR doesn’t have a good enough relationship with anyone in IT to vet the ad. Or worse, there’s no one working there qualified to vet it!

  18. Tax Manager*

    Am I the only one who doesn’t really mind if I don’t get a formal rejection? I always assume that silence is an answer, it’s just not the one I want. To me a rejection letter is a definite “No”, even if they throw in a line about keeping my resume on file.

    But then I’ve had two good experiences with NOT getting a definite rejection. The first time, I flew out of town to interview for a spot (on their dime), thought it went great, and then heard nothing for six weeks. I called the recruiter who’d arranged it to ask what was up, and was told that they liked me, but an internal candidate had popped up. Six months later, that recruiter called me and said they had an opening in my city, and asked if I was still looking, because they had liked me. I got the job, and it went well.

    While with the same company, the workload increased dramatically in November, after we’d finished campus recruiting, and we realized we’d need three interns for our department that we hadn’t originally planned on. We asked HR to comb through the stack of “Maybes” that just barely didn’t make the original cut and find out if they were still available, and we lucked out and got three great interns. I really think that if they’d been sent rejection emails, they would have been categorized as “Definite No’s”.

    1. Charles*

      It is not that we don’t get a “formal” rejection – we hear nothing! That is what is so rude.

      As far as your last sentence, I am a bit puzzled as to why a rejection email/letter is a “definite no”? Can you explain further?

      I’ve had some folks who let me know that they went with another candidate; but then a few months later contacted me again for the same or another position. I was thrilled!

      But, then I have also had some folks who never followed up, never returned emails or phone calls and then contacted me for another position or the same position a few months later – while I am interested in anything that pays I am less than thrilled and wonder why they are so unprofessional. That is more of a “no” to me than the first scenario.

  19. Flynn*

    Ha. My current job I heard nothing, assumed that meant I hadn’t got it, called up ‘just in case’ before heading into an interview for another job that I stood a good chance at getting, and the response I got was “oh, what day were you starting, again?”

    I later wanted to pick up a second job (both were part time) in the same institution, it was the same level, hours that fitted; I was a shoo-in. I turn up to the interview and they can’t understand why I want to keep the first job; turns out they changed the hours from the advertised 2 days a week to ‘a couple of hours EVERY day of the week, and more if they need me’. I said that wasn’t what was advertised, and I wouldn’t have bothered applying for these hours – the senior interviewer obviously didn’t realise it had been advertised this way and gave the other person (who would have been in charge of me) this *look* and promptly dropped it. It was a complete waste of my time and their’s; they ended up hiring someone who only stayed a month before leaving.

  20. danr*

    Just read through all the comments so far and from my perspective of a long time between job hunts… the process is “ever changing, yet eternally the same”. The difference now is that we can all get together and talk about it and get perspectives from both sides.

  21. Elizabeth West*

    I can understand not responding to applications and emailed resumes, especially if they received hundreds of responses to the posting. But if you’ve interviewed, no response is unforgivable.

    Since many companies are posting jobs on their websites and using online applications, it might be a good idea to put something in the auto-reply email that says “If you haven’t heard from us in X [reasonable] amount of time, please check back on our website.” Then alter the post to say “Position has been filled.” That way at least applicants will be notified. And it goes without saying that they should still be applying elsewhere.

  22. tango*

    I agree with not hearing when you’ve interviewed for a job. What also irks me is the time you spend applying to just meet glitches in their computer system that prevents you from submitting the information needed. Recently I applied for a job. Not only did I have to do a massive behavioral questionaire, I also had to do a math and reasoning questionaire. Then I filled out the online application and it asked for me to submit a resume. The website specifically stated: No applicants would be considered without both the resume and questionaires being completed. Well when I went to upload my resume, it wouldn’t load. I tried MS Word 10, MS Word 2003-2007 and even a plain text resume. None would load due to technical errors on their end. So I continued hoping there would be a space for a cover letter or comments so I could explain what happened or post my resume there. No such cover letter or comments field was offerred before I came to the end of the process. So I spent 45 minutes plus applying for a job that I won’t be considered for since I could not submit a resume. Now if there was a specific resume format their system required such as PDF or MS Word 2003 or heiroglyphics, tell me and I’ll do it. But to spend all that time was discouraging especially when I tried to revisit the site the next day to update my application and try my resume again, I got the “user id or password” is not recognized error and no option to request an updated password if I made a mistake in inputting it orginally. This was after they sent me an email the night before acknowleding my application submittal! So I’m in the system, but not in the system? With such disorganization, I should maybe count my blessings that I didn’t go any further with the company.

    1. Piper*

      Ugh, the dreaded online application ordeal. So frustrating. I’ve never met one that worked well. They are all overly cumbersome and I truly believe companies that use them to screen out candidates who omit or use certain keywords* or who answer their questions “wrong” are missing out on great candidates.

      I recently heard a rumor that the military screens out resumes that have the phrase “responsible for” anywhere on the resume because they think if you have that, you haven’t listed your accomplishments. I find this to be completely ludicrous. I have that phrase on my resume with a short blurb about what I actually did at each job since my titles are somewhat convoluted and clarification is necessary. I then follow with bullets under the header of accomplishments. I have no idea if this rumor is true, but it came from someone who is in the military and responsible for hiring. I still find it incredibly difficult to believe and a very, very silly practice.

      1. Piper*

        Duh…the second asterisk was supposed to be at the beginning of the second paragraph. I fail at commenting.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I am very suspicious of that rumor, but regardless, it’s true that “responsible for” can often be replaced by something much stronger. Try “ensured smooth running of” and see if that works better.

        1. Piper*

          Agreed that “responsible for” isn’t the strongest verb…I just double-checked my most recent resume (and my linkedin page) – the all blur together these days – and it actually only shows up once and it comes right after and right before a much stronger verb, and is really the most reasonable connector in that particular sentence.

          Anyway, I’m highly suspicious of this rumor, too, but this guy swears up and down that it’s the case. Maybe it was just his particular manager who did this, but still, a silly thing if you ask me, especially if the resume is clearly filled with accomplishments and strong action verbs.

  23. Dana*

    Going along with #1- I think a realistic view of how the career can progress is also important. If you’re hiring for a job in which your employee cannot progress, they need to know this off the bat, and you need to be prepared for a lot of turnover.

  24. Ceep*

    I have a question…I asked it WAY up above, buried in an answer….

    Re: being informed of a decision. We have had incidences when the candidate was so clearly wrong for the position, would you want to know right away, ie, as we are wrapping up the interview…thank you for coming in, but we will not be proceeding with your candidacy (fill in explanation as to why). I mean, sometimes it is CLEAR that it is not a match. Would you, as a candidate, want the interviewer to tell you that right up front? Just wondering!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We kind of talked about this a bit in this very old post:
      I’d say generally speaking don’t do it on the spot because of the reasons I talked about in my comment on that post from 5/15/09 at 1:26 p.m. For people who don’t feel like clicking through, I basically said that if they’ve made it to the interview stage, the reason isn’t going to be as simply as “we’re looking for more experience with X” (or at least it shouldn’t be — you should have pre-screened well enough to avoid that). Instead, it’s going to something that’s harder to say in person, like “you seem like you like critical thinking skills” or “you’re arrogant” or “you’re okay, but the guy right before you was better,” or whatever. Most people don’t want to have those conversations on the spot and in person.

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