why are employers so rude and inconsiderate to job hunters?

A reader writes:

I’ve been job hunting for about 18 months and my issue is people. I can’t handle all of the broken promises. I’ve had people make offers of help and then disappear. I’ve had interview offers rescinded (mostly involving scheduling conflicts until I find that the job has been filled). I’ve been told to follow up and then after having chased someone down found that the job has been filled and even had one job offer rescinded (the person doing the hiring didn’t have the authorization, I found out 3 days before I was supposed to start a 3 month gig). One company has called me on three separate occasions to talk to me about upcoming projects and how they want me to be a part of the team — and then crickets, even after I follow up for an update.

I know that none of it is personal, but it has me screaming “what is WRONG with people?” Why is it so difficult to hit “reply” when someone has followed up after an interview? (I do not expect a reply to every resume I send out.) Why does no one understand how hard it is to look for a job, especially when you’ve lost one? I can accept hearing no, but the silence is painful. I feel completely invisible. Being unemployed is hard enough, dealing with this insanity makes it unbearable.

I almost feel like there’s no point in trying, because not only do I have to fight it out with hundreds of applicants, I also have to fight through the hiring manager’s apathy. I just spoke with another company was told that I would be getting a technical test for a freelance position several days ago. I followed up with an email yesterday but so far no reply. I’ll wait another week and call if I don’t hear but I can’t believe this is happening AGAIN. Do you have any advice for me?

You’ve got a lot of company in this particular boat. Yes, it’s rude, but you’re right that it’s not personal. It’s just how hiring often works these days. It can seem less rude if you’re prepared for it from the beginning — if you go into interviews expecting not to hear anything afterwards, and if you’re vigilant about keeping in mind that no matter how interested an employer seems, you might never end up talking with them again. Let employers’ follow-ups be a pleasant surprise rather than an expected step.

It shouldn’t have to be that way, but it (often) is, and so you’ll do yourself an enormous service by approaching it with matter-of-fact acceptance rather than frustration.

As for why it happens, some of it is the job market — employers have enough qualified candidates to choose from that they can get away with inconsiderate treatment, and some choose to. The good ones don’t operate like that, but plenty do. Also, a lot of companies have fewer people doing more work, and when people have too much to do, things like sending rejections sometimes get pushed off the list. And yes, sometimes interviews fall through because the position gets pulled or the employer finds “the one” and curtails other interviews, or all sorts of other reasons. That’s just business — things change. You can see it as apathy, but you’re probably going to be happier if you see if as “busy people juggling high workloads with lots of priorities besides hiring.” Because much of the time, that’s true. No one is trying to be a jerk to you.

But all that aside, the most important thing to get comfortable with is that this is just how it (often) is. You can decide you’re not interested in playing under these rules, but that’s not a great option for most people, assuming you need to work. And although you can’t change these rules, there’s one element here that you can change — and that’s your own mindset about all this. You’ll be far better off not taking it personally and simply moving on mentally after you apply for a job / have an interview / hear something potentially promising from an employer. Respond appropriately to those things, of course, but then move on. Don’t sit around waiting for the next step to materialize; move on as if it never happened or as if you already heard a “no.” If you’re going to hear from that employer again, it’s going to happen whether you’re waiting and agonizing or not — and if you’re not going to hear from them, you might as well skip the waiting and the agony.

On the employer’s side of things, this is all fairly impersonal, and there’s no reason it can’t be on yours as well. Approaching it that way won’t harm the outcome, and it will give you a lot more peace of mind in the meantime. Good luck.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 178 comments… read them below }

  1. JM in England*

    I too used to take every non-response and rejection personally but now I job search with the attitude that 99.9% of all applications, emails etc that I send will go nowhere!

    Now I am a much saner and happier job seeker for it!

    1. Felicia*

      I don’t respect a response to applications or emails, but the fact that I took time to travel to their place of business and speak with them, and then I never hear a thing from them afterwards still really bothers me, even if it happens in the vast majority of interviews I have.

      The worst though is when they say “we’ll let you know either way by x date” and then you never hear from them again. If they don’t plan on getting back to you i’d rather they didn’t lie like that .

      1. Tina*

        That’s my personal pet peeve with employers during the job search – I can understand no response to applications, but giving answers to candidates that actually interviewed is another story. I do realize employers/staff are busy, but I still think those interviewed deserve a response.

        1. ChristineSW*

          That’s my pet peeve too, although I sometimes will allow some extra time for unforeseen circumstances behind the scenes.

    2. CoffeeLover*

      I’m actually shocked when I receive a response to an application. (To me a rejection response to an application seems unnecessary since I basically forget about the job after I’ve applied :P.)

      The only time I expect to hear a response is if I actually got to the interview phase. Then again, I’ve always heard back if I’ve interviewed, even if it was just a form response.

      1. Erin*

        Then you’re lucky. I have had many, many interviews (some lasting as long as a full eight-hour day, when I’ve flown halfway across the country) that never resulted in any response, even after following up. In one situation, I had three rounds of interviews, completed a writing assignment, provided references (whom they contacted) and was told it was one other candidate and me. This was all over the course of about a six month period. When they finally picked the other person, they never told me. I found out through back channels, more than a month after the new person had started. So it’s not just people not getting responses to applications. Employers aren’t even responding to candidates they’ve interviewed, not even candidates who’ve made it through many, many rounds.

        1. JM in England*

          In my opinion, not getting back to people who interviewed show a lack of respect for the time and effort they put in to meet the employer.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I totally agree, and I will write off a company if they do that to me. I keep a list in a spreadsheet with coded responses: N for No, NR for No response, so I can totally avoid them the next time I’m looking.

            What Alison said about people doing more than one job and rejections getting pushed off the list rings true; it seems to happen more often at smaller companies where one person may be wearing multiple hats. That said, a form email only takes a few seconds to send.

        2. Lore*

          My worst ever in this regard: had two rounds of interviews, followed up, never heard back. Six months later, received extremely apologetic email from hiring manager; the position was put on hold, reconceived, they were starting over with the few candidates who fit the new parameters, was I still interested? I said yes, went through another round of interviewing…and then never heard back again. Found out through an industry publication when they hired someone else three months later.

          1. NonProfiter*

            Yup. I’m surprised this is so typical. I just went through 3 rounds of interviews, writing assignment, review of their strategic plan + assignment to prepare to discuss during interview and then, nothing for two weeks. I sent an email when I got an offer from another org, and a day later I got a rushed and apologetic phone call saying they hired someone else. (Since I hadn’t heard anything in < two weeks, I thought they *might* still be considering me.)

            I kind of doubt they had any intention of notifying me. If I hadn't emailed to say I had an offer, I never would have heard anything. I'm just kind of shocked by that behavior. I understand when people don't respond to an application, but if I'm met with your executive director . . . Maybe employers don't understand that a simple three line rejection email to candidates who made it that far in the process is the professionally considerate thing to do. Maybe they think they're being "nice" by not formally rejecting candidates.

  2. Liz*

    After dealing with a long job search, no responses to emails, extremely long delays with no updates during interview processes, and countless other instances of rudeness, I’ve promised myself that I will do things differently if I’m ever in the position to hire others. It isn’t that hard to send a one-minute email saying “we’ll get back to you when we know more” and it isn’t that hard to exercise the most basic levels of human courtesy when scheduling interviews and following up with applicants. Like Alison said, companies are able to get away with this behavior now, but they are CHOOSING to be rude. No matter what the circumstances, rudeness is a choice and a demonstration of priorities, and I’m determined not to make that choice in the future. I only wish more companies felt the same now.

    1. Felicia*

      Another thing that isn’t hard – if you only have in person interviews with let’s say 10 people, you send an identical form email to the other 9 people saying you’ve gone with someone else. That should take 5 minutes tops and that’s really all I expect after going in for an interview (and rarely get)

    2. Tina*

      I don’t know that everyone is deliberately choosing to be rude. As Alison mentioned, many staff are busy and have other priorities. Most are not consciously choosing to be hurtful or rude, though it does come across that way. Having just read “Difficult Conversations: How to discuss what matters most”, I’ve been learning that it’s important to separate intent from impact when responding to a particular situation. The situation is still stressful, but assuming someone’s negative intent just adds to the stress.

      1. Colette*

        Agreed. I don’t hire, but my to-do list is crazy, and sometimes small things like this take longer than I’d like them to take.

        It’s not hard to send a short e-mail – but you do need to find the applicant’s e-mail address, and make sure that you know the current status of the process, and that all takes time. Should companies send a response? Sure. Will they all? No.

        You can choose to be insulted by not getting a response, but the only person that hurts is you.

        1. annie*

          “You can choose to be insulted by not getting a response, but the only person that hurts is you.”

          This is very true, but I do often wonder about these companies who treat candidates like this – don’t they realize these people may be their customers, may have friends who will apply there, may even know some of their current employees? At the same time I also think about their current employees, because if this is how they treat candidates it must be just as bad or worse being an employee – as the economy improves, you have to think there will be an exodus of people seeking better treatment. It’s all just so short sighted, in my view.

          1. Colette*

            I agree it may not be in the company’s best interests to act like this, but honestly, I wouldn’t stop buying from a company whose only misstep was not getting back to me after an interview. I wouldn’t even not apply again, if what I’d learned in the first interview was appealing. It’s one data point, but only one, and I know from experience that timelines and priorities change, and sometimes things drop.

          2. My 2 Cents*

            This times 100!!! I work in the nonprofit field and have been treated very badly by some of the nonprofits where I donate (I have a corporate husband so those donations are sometimes substantial, and sometimes matched by his company). One organization in particular gets $2,000 from us each year and they’ve jeopardized it by screwing me over multiple times. I don’t expect you to give me a job, but I expect your process to be respectful of me and my time.

            So yes, all companies need to realize that they are not only hurting a job applicant but they are also hurting the business we give to them.

            1. Anonymously Anonymous*

              I applied and interviewed with a particular non-profit and got no response afterwards. Oddly enough, a co-worker of mine found this really cool project for our program to be a part of and she choose this same non-profit as the recipient of all the donations. When she called them to schedule everything– it took her a couple of weeks for someone to call her back so she could donate the stuff to them…

              Talk about shooting oneself in the foot with their own processes…

            1. Judy*

              “We’ll be making a decision in the next week or so, and will let you know once the decision is made.”

              Then is not rude? I’ve never been to an interview where they didn’t say (or I didn’t ask) what the next steps were.

              1. Cat*

                I think the point was that there’s a difference between being rude (which this unequivocally is) and treating people as less-than-human (which is a pretty serious charge for someone who may have just – wrongly – let something slip through the cracks).

      2. Liz*

        Even if someone doesn’t intend to be rude (i.e. it just slipped their mind, they got super busy, etc.), I still firmly believe that is IS rude to not respond to applicants, especially once you’re past the initial stages. It obviously takes a lot of organization to handle lots of applications, but I see almost no legitimate reason why job applicants shouldn’t at least get a form letter saying they will not be advancing in the process. Considering how many employers still insist on accepting applications through cumbersome databases and specialized systems, you’d think it wouldn’t be too hard to set it up so the 490/500 applicants who aren’t getting interviewed all get the same form e-mail saying as much. The 10 people who ARE progressing ought to have their time and energy treated with respect, much as they almost always seem to go out of their way to treat the company/interviewer’s time with respect. No matter how busy someone in HR might be, I think some of the more egregious examples (such as never hearing back after a second interview) are rude and unacceptable no matter what. That being said, of course we should all try not to take it personally and move on, but it’s still hard.

        1. Felicia*

          I think that with the number of people a company interviews (really not that many) it’s not hard at all to tell them they didn’t get the job, especially if you said you would. Once you hire someone, you know the the other 5-9 people you interviewed were rejected so if part of their time was allocated to interviewing these people, i really dont buy that they don’t have enough time to send short emails to less than 10 people (and they can send all the rejected people the same email) and since they’ve already interviewed these people they’d have easy access to their email address, especially if the person sent a follow up email. I totally understand the not enough time excuse for not responding to applications though and I’ve never expected a response to applications.

          1. jennie*

            It’s not necessarily about not having time, it’s about balancing priorities. To the applicant, receiving a response is a top priority but to the recruiter there are probably dozens of other items on their to-do list with a higher ROI than sending rejection emails. I doubt anyone is intentionally being rude in this scenario. They’re just not seeing it as a top priority and hoping to get to it when they have time.

            1. fposte*

              Exactly. It’s their version of the the gym you’re going to get to any day now, the friend you’re totally going to have lunch with some weekend, or the closet you’re going to clean out. It’s not even because they don’t “understand how hard it is to look for a job”–they do. They just have other hard things that are taking precedence.

              I still think it’s rude not to do it, and our applicants all get notified. But I’m concerned that the OP seems to be in a bad place where it’s all being read as contempt, and I think that’s making her frustration even higher. It reminds me of when I have a bad day and begin to attribute sinister motives to drivers who forget to signal or who are slow to start at the red light and then I get even more annoyed with them; in reality, those are just the same momentary lapses I’ve had myself now and then, and turning them into a sign of other drivers’ moral failure is only hurting me.

              1. Colette*

                Exactly! It’s not that it shouldn’t happen, because it should, but choosing to be offended by the behavior of total strangers over something this minor is not a healthy life choice.

                If you were going to be offered the job, they would contact you, so it’s best to assume that lack of response means exactly the same thing as “Sorry, we’ve gone with someone else.” If you choose to take it as a personal slight, you’re attributing malice where there may only be overwork and inattention. And if you share that viewpoint with friends/colleagues/neighbours/potential employers, you’re negatively influencing their opinion of you. I know people like that, and I try to avoid them, because they’re not fun to be around.

              2. OP*

                I’m not taking it personally, although it does annoy me more when close friends make the offer and end up disappearing. It gives me great concern for my future when the other party doesn’t do what they say that they are going to do – even when it is unsolicited by me. I have to do everything that I say I am going to do and so much more – which I do, without question. It’s hard to have hope that my future will be better when I’m told to follow up about a second interview and I have to contact someone a few times to find out that the job was already filled. Hitting reply on my original follow up email and saying “We’ve chosen to go with another candidate, thank you for your time” would’ve been the right thing to do – the respectful thing to do. It’s not personal, it’s just that I can’t control it and I’m stuck trying to navigate it and my future hinges on it. It’s frustrating.

          2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            It’s also worth keeping in mind that while any given job might have 10 people interviewed, a company could be hiring for 5 positions, or 10 positions, or a hundred positions.

            Now consider those, say, 25 emails, in the context of finding the applicant email address, creating the email, and sending it, in the context of employees who are maybe already working 45 hour weeks, struggling to just advance applicants, let alone respond to all of them.

            On the applicant side, it’s very easy to see it as a slight when you hear that your resume gets scanned for 30 seconds, or when you don’t hear back from an interview. And I agree that companies need to work harder to put those systems into place. But on the applicant side, you don’t have nearly all the information you need to understand why they’re doing things the way they are, and you certainly don’t have enough information to be insulted by it!

            1. Anonymous*

              The internal recruiter I am currently working with has more than 60 openings at the moment.

              If 10 people make it to some form of interview on each opening, that’s 600 people at various stages of the process at any given point in time.

              That being said, I do think everyone who is interviewed gets some resolution, but I now understand why it may not always be by the date originally promised.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          Speaking of those cumbersome online application systems, that should be part of what the software offers. Once you mark the applicant as rejected, it should send an email automatically.

          1. College Career Counselor*

            Many of them do. But, very often someone in the process (hiring manager, HR person, CEO, whatever) doesn’t want to “let go” all the other applicants until they have someone actually WORKING at the organization. In case they have to “go back to the candidate pool.” Which is stupid, because most of those people have moved on, many of them with annoyance.

            In the automated application world, there is no excuse for not giving out timely information in 90+% of the cases. That leaves less than 10% of the applicants (your in-person finalists) who need to get a more personalized letter or a phone call. Granted, I haven’t hired hundreds of people annually, so I can’t speak to a scaled-up workload like that, but it should be the hiring manager’s job (or HR’s job) to let the finalists know.

            Like others above and below, I’d much rather be rejected than ignored. I have much more respect for those organizations that have professional courtesy than those that don’t. And people I know tend to hear who runs a good search and who doesn’t.

      3. ChristineSW*

        Tina, that’s a good point. I think what matters more is how 1) you are treated during any interactions, such as scheduling an interview and the interview itself and 2) how they respond if, after not hearing back after an interview–particularly after second interviews or if there’s a sign you might be one of the finalists–you call to check on the timeline status.

        1. Felicia*

          I’ve had a few second interviews when they said I was one of 2 or 3 people they were considering, and then i never heard from them again.

        2. Anonymously Anonymous*

          My last two interviews the persons who scheduled the interview literally hunted me down ( I missed phone calls on my house phone, I think I hung up on one of them because I was at work and pressed answer instead of ignore–so I hung up) They were very nice and patient, left voice mail message and even emailed me. Then after I set up the interview, interviewed, then followed up—nothing ghost town. I know they’re hands were probably tied but I think people on those positions should advocate for ‘being able to tell, at least the candidates interviewed, something’

      4. BCW*

        I could agree to a point. Its one thing to not sent a response to everyone who interviews. However its completely different to choose to ignore when that person follows up. Thats what really annoys me. If I took the time to come in, then time again to follow up, it takes all of 1 minute to reply and say we went with someone else. That to me is a negative intent.

      5. Job seeker*

        I don’t know if someone is just deliberately choosing to be rude or not, but it is still rude. Everyone deserves to be responded to professionally. I agree with Alison, you have to not take anything in job searching personally. I do believe people as a whole are getting thoughtless and ruder though.

        I am in the process of trying to take my little dog from vet to vet offices. She went blind 2 weeks ago at the age of 3. I was out of state helping my mother and my sons were helping me here. One animal eye specialist I went to last week (that charges an very expensive fee) had an assistant be extremely rude to me. I was asking my questions after the exam and she piped up and said to the vet, we have to go we have another patient waiting that has to get to another appointment.

        You better believe I made my feeling known at the desk when I was paying my bill. I told them that I thought that was rude and I was paying for a visit and to ask questions. I really believe consideration and thoughtfulness have gone out the window.

        I think it speaks volumes of a company that take time to respond.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Aww, poor little doggie. :(

          Although I have a friend whose mother has a little blind poodle and she gets along just fine as long as nobody moves the furniture.

          1. Kelly L.*

            My late doggie went blind in her later years and it was the same way–don’t move the furniture and she was fine. I think everything else was auxiliary to her nose anyway.

            Job seeker, snuggles to your little doggie.

            1. Job seeker*

              Thank you so much. Yes, I have cried and cried because I love her. I feel heartbroken for her because she is so young. Also, scared because no-one can yet give me answers. Thank you for your sweetness.

          2. Job seeker*

            Thank you Elizabeth. Yes, I am working so hard to help her adjust. We have a golden retriever also that is the same age and that helps her. She is a little bichon and so trusting. They have grown up together since puppies and think they are sisters. Actually, she is doing good but I haven’t gotten any answers yet from the vets what is wrong. She is healthy and I am going to be thankful for that. Thank you for caring.

  3. Erik*

    I just move on – I simply expect companies to fail to follow up or keep me in the loop. With everyone being so busy, it’s standard operating procedure. I maintain a positive attitude and keep moving onward.

    I just recently had an interview with a big company we all know and love, and after 2+ weeks of waiting they sent me a survey asking me how my interview experience was. Classic. The rejection email came later, but I got a good laugh out of it.

    I’ve noticed more increased rudeness with regards to employers being more cocky, confrontational, and making people jump through more hoops.

    The good companies get down to business and hire people right away – those are the ones to target.

  4. Lillie Lane*

    Many of us feel your pain, OP. The “rules”of job searching have changed drastically. I know a lot of people that have cushy, pretty stable jobs, and while I appreciate their attempts to help with job search advice, unless they have entered the Coliseum of the Current Job Market, I don’t really want to hear their thoughts about what I “should” be doing. AAM has been an immense help to me in commiserating with others, as well as learning to let it go and move on. This has been great in all aspects of life, in fact.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      I agree with you, Lillie! My family didn’t have a clue the first time I was laid off and had trouble finding a new new job. I got all kinds of bad advice, most of which I recognized as bad, and I also got a LOT of “you don’t have a new job YET???”

      When I learned to not expect responses, even after an interview, and kept my job search going, I was called “pessimistic”. I tried explaining that no, I was just being realistic, but it wasn’t until a couple of family members went through the same thing that they finally got it.

      1. JM in England*

        Agreed Jazzy!

        Said family members could have done with heeding the proverb “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes”……………..

      2. Lillie Lane*

        Agreed 100%! My husband was job searching even before I was, and I’ll admit that I thought he was way too pessimistic about it (he is naturally that way and thinks everyone is “out to get him”), but I didn’t truly understand why he was so frustrated until I went through it myself.

    2. Anonymous*

      In my experience, what’s being described is same old, same old. Some companies are good about closing the loop, others are not. In the mid -90’s – almost 20 years ago – I applied for jobs, went on multiple day long interviews at large companies and never heard anything again. I got offers, made counteroffers and never heard anything again.

  5. Anonny*

    “On the employer’s side of things, this is all fairly impersonal, and there’s no reason it can’t be on yours as well.”

    I’d say there is definitely a reason it can’t.

    I understand that this is the mature and logical way to handle job searching and, being over a year into my search, I’m trying really hard to adopt this mindset, but I find it impossible to pull off, because the reason the employer can be impersonal and I can’t is because the employer doesn’t need to hire me, but I need to be hired (not by them specifically, but at all) to continue to live. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but my point is so much rides on having a job, all the basic needs. I can’t put each job I apply for out of my mind after applying, as is so often advised here. I understand the concept in theory, but it never works out for me in practice. If anyone has any specific suggestions on how to do that, I would really appreciate it.

    1. Yup*

      Companies need people to do the work of their business, otherwise they don’t have a product to sell or a service to offer. Truly, they do – unless every single decision can be made by replicants, they need a live thinking doing person. There are probably jobs out there that you don’t want, right? (Too dangerous, require extreme relocation, work you absolutely won’t do for perfectly valid reason.) You’re applying to places based on some kind of personal criteria, even if it’s really broad. That’s something to keep in mind – your needs are shaping the process too. At the end of the day, the employer makes an offer but the final decision is really with you to accept (or not).

      One practical thing you can do, head-wise, is to make lists from your perspective: What are the most important things to me in a good positive workplace? What kind of interview questions will get me answers about those things? What are my dealbreakers for things I just wouldn’t accept in an offer, even if the money was great? How can I screen for these when looking at job postings? You get the idea. And when you’re actually applying for jobs, pay attention and make notes for yourself! Was it a ridiculous online nightmare? Was the HR person knowledgeable and responsive? What was your assessment of the people you spoke to on the phone or met with? What do you think about how the company presents itself publicly? You’re assessing them right back.

    2. PJ*

      Having been in your situation, Anonny (unemployed for over a year) I found that it truly DID help to be impersonal about it all. Agonizing over applications ignored, interviews canceled, second-rounds unacknowledged, promises unkept, etc. just made it harder for me. It was MUCH easier for me to focus on what I had to do NEXT as opposed to what I was waiting to happen.

      For me, my sanity depended on my being able to focus on the future and let go of the past, and sometimes the past I had to let go of was that morning’s interview. It was hard to do as I watched my resources dwindle, but it really did make my day-to-day life easier. And it helped me show up better for interviews and appear less “desperate” (although desperate is what I definitely was!).

      And when I did hear back, or was invited on to the next step, or whatever, I tried to look on it as a gift, but not as a lifeline.

      I’m rooting for you in your search!

      1. JM in England*

        Have been in your shoes PJ, so know what it’s like. In fact, one thing I’m working on right now is doing my best not to let my not to let my anger/bitterness/resentment/desperation bleed through at interviews……………..& boy is it a challenge!

    3. Colette*

      Does obsessing about an application or interview help you get a job? Does being personally offended by lack of follow up help you get a job?

      Doing this may make you feel like you’re doing something about being unemployed, but I’d argue that it can actually hurt your ability to find something new if you’re stuck in the past (whether it’s a past application or past job or that interview you never heard back from). If you let it go, you can look forward to new things. If you don’t, it’ll hold you back. (“Why bother applying there, they’ll probably blow me off like the last company did.”

      1. Patti*

        +1… remember your purpose! The job search is very personal for you (your livelihood), but it isn’t personal for the employer. Yes, it is rude to send no response. However, in some cases (most?), the manager has positions to fill while still juggling all their other normal responsibilities. For me, returning an email from a candidate that isn’t moving forward falls to the bottom of the priority list. I always *want* to send something… but… etc, etc.

    4. Jesicka309*

      This is going to sound silly, but get a hobby. An important one. That takes up some of your free time.
      I’ve found that I tend to agonize over applications when I’m bored, but with a hobby (volunteering, study, sports, kids school canteen, anything) it’s much easier to say “it would be nice if they called me, but if they don’t, that’s okay. I’m completely swamped by my car restoration/exam prep/volunteering anyway”.
      I’ve found it really helps, and lets you have some sort of control (I’m too busy to interview with a crappy company like you anyway!)
      Plus it has the added bonus of enriching your own life, which is important when you’re job searching and your ego is taking all kinds of hits.

      1. Limon*

        Yes, get thee to vounteering ! It is an amazingly good thing to do not only for yourself but for others.

        Thinking of others in our time of need is a great way to get through it without losing our perspective. These are hard times, friends.

  6. Sarah*

    Ugh, I know that feel. And honestly, there’s a difference between people being professional but simply being unable to reply due to the number of applicants, and people who are just rude. I’ve experienced plenty of both in my recent year-long search, and it’s DEFINITELY not always “just business.” From what I’ve seen, this economy has made some (not tons, but some) employers overestimate their own importance. I had several email correspondences, writing tests, etc with one particular company. On Thursday, she asked me when I could start. I was in a different part of the country but perfectly happy to move last-minute at my own expense. I told her Monday. She replied that it wasn’t soon enough, and they needed someone who was more committed to the position, and she was sure they could get someone in faster. Yeah, it’s a two-person no-name company paying a rock-bottom salary with no benefits, no retirement, etc.

    I’ve also had a phone interview that I thought went very well: I made him laugh several times, and he seemed interested in my work. Then at the end of the interview, he casually mentioned that he had to go interview “real” candidates now – he had thought one of my job titles sounded funny and wanted to hear the story, so he had offered me essentially a fake interview. To laugh at me. (In his defense, it IS an odd title, but still.)

    People are jerks. Not all people, but certainly more than enough.

    1. Sarah*

      I should add, though, that those are really my only two horror stories in a little over a year of actively seeking a job, so I consider myself lucky. The jerks are in the minority, it’s just that they can be so rude it overwhelms the professional feedback.

    2. nyxalinth*

      That is just horrifying. What a poor excuse for a human being. Actually, not a human being: he just happens to have the appropriate DNA sequence that matches human.

      I’ve thankfully never had anything quite that bad–just a couple of arrogant jerks here and there. Most of my rotten job searches are companies that lie about the true nature of the position (outside sales being passed off in the ad as customer service because now and then you answer calls form people you’ve sold the insurance to is one example I’ve had) or they didn’t post their exact requirements in the ad, then wonder why I don’t have XYZ background and get semi-pissy about it in the interview (that was end of June).

      If I might ask, what was your job title? also, I’m sorry that this waste of flesh did that to you. :(

    3. dejavu2*

      I can’t believe the “real candidate” thing happened to you, because it more or less also happened to me! I’ve never encountered anyone else with that experience…. In law school, the encourage you to list hobbies at the bottom of your resume. I have a somewhat unusual hobby that sounds really cool, and was encouraged to list it. So list it I did. I applied to interview with every firm that came to campus, and a pretty decent shop actually selected me. I was very excited because I hadn’t been getting anywhere. I get dolled up and go to the interview, sit down, and the guy’s like, “I guess you know why I wanted to interview you.” I had no idea what he was talking about, so he elaborated that he was interviewing me because of my hobby, and that should have been obvious since I was clearly unqualified to work at his firm. Then he peppered me with questions about my hobby. It was one of the most demoralizing interview experiences I’ve ever had.

      1. nyxalinth*

        What a nickname for Richard. He must have no life, seeing as he took time out of his day just to troll you.

        1. voluptuousfire*

          Oh yes. I hate those “more info” conversations that masquerade as interviews. I had one call like that a few months back. The woman pretty much had decided I wasn’t a fit for the job but called me because I had experience with Salesforce. It turned out they were deciding between CRM systems and she commented they were going with another one other than Salesforce. Uhm, ok? If you needed someone’s opinion on Salesforce, wouldn’t Google take care of that?

          As it turned out, the company is still hiring for this position. I still see it pop up in my job listings every so often and have also seen it come up in staffing agency listings on Indeed.com .

  7. Katie the Fed*

    It’s rude and I’m not defending them, but I would keep two things in mind:

    1) while this is the utmost priority in your mind, to them it’s one of many things they have going on, and a lot of candidates as well.

    2) Some candidates don’t do rejection well – they argue and demand reasons and then argue more. That’s not fun for anyone.

  8. Lily in NYC*

    Sure, it’s annoying as heck, but it goes both ways – I’m sure there are a ton of hiring managers that also pull out their hair wondering why candidates are so crazy. I’m still scratching my head over the woman that showed up drunk for her interview here a few weeks ago and insulted everyone (it was a high-level position and her 2nd interview with us!).

    1. Tina*

      Wow. That one could have been on Alison’s list a few months ago about weirdest/baffling candidate behavior at interviews! Showing up drunk?!

  9. Simon Oh*

    I’m in this same situation as well. I finished AmeriCorps on Aug. 1 and I’m currently looking for a new job. I started my job search in March, believing that starting early would mean that an opportunity really could materialize early enough that I can jump right into upon finishing AmeriCorps. Despite those efforts, zero interviews have been lined up so far this year.

    I, too, feel frustrated but I continue to press on with my efforts by downplaying any expectations for each job that I apply for. It wasn’t until recently, thanks to Alison and the AAM blog, that I learned that the best way to deal with the job search is to assume that I will not hear back at all from each job that I apply for and to go back and focus on ones that eventually do. I have found it to be the imperfect but best strategy going forward.

    1. Nadine*

      Simon — Are you back in California? We met at a PRSA event in Philly in the fall. You might try the Los Angeles Urban League. They have a career center, as we do, and try to match up employers with suitable employees. Job hunting is demoralizing at best, but if you work with the Urban League you have an advocate working on your behalf.

  10. De Minimis*

    I had a looooong stretch of unemployment and encountered some pretty poor behavior from various employers, but after a while it didn’t really bother me as far as not hearing back. Only one or two incidents really stick out now…one employer responded to a follow up e-mail by saying they were still looking at candidates and would get back to me soon, but I later learned they had actually already hired several people at that time. I would have preferred just never hearing back to being lied to. Of course, I found out later that company was very difficult to work for and had a chaotic situation as far as office management, so I guess it’s better that I didn’t end up there.

    The other was the employer who seemed to call me in just so they could berate me about my lack of experience, although that was not entirely their fault, I had reached out to them a couple of years earlier and they contacted me when they had a vacancy. I guess they had assumed that I had managed to obtain more experience over the prior two years. Still, he could have actually bothered to read my resume and let me know that they were looking for more experience first, but oh well.

    1. De Minimis*

      Oh, and I never heard from the berating interviewer either, although that was a case where I knew halfway through the interview that there was no way in heck that I was getting the job. At least I got a bottled water out of it.

      1. Jesicka309*

        I was once grilled about the specific subjects I had studied at university (I was only 11 months out, so I was still a pretty fresh grad)
        “So it says you majored in television? What subjects did you study? Any media planning? Any business? Any marketing?”

        I explained that my communication degree was really versatile, but more production based, and I was keen to move into more of a supporting role in the administration.

        “Oh, so you really didn’t study anything useful to us” I could practically see them cross my name off. I had two years of industry experience part time, but my specific studies were under the microscope…jerks.

    2. nyxalinth*

      Yeah, the experience thing can be annoying. I always seem to fall short somehow. But hey, they called me for an interview, so they knew what I had when they called, right?

      1. De Minimis*

        In this case, I contacted them in 2010, didn’t hear from them till 2012 but they wanted to interview me and asked for a current copy of my resume. Unfortunately, I was still unemployed in 2012 so that was a deal breaker for them. Like a lot of business owners, I think he was really out of touch with the realities of the job market where I lived at the time–he could not fathom how someone could be unemployed for that long, even though we were at 15% unemployment and I was an entry level hire.

        The whole interview was basically, “But what have you been doing? Why haven’t you found work?”

        1. nyxalinth*

          What did he expect you to say? If that was an issue for them, they shouldn’t have contacted you. this is different from “This person would be great, so we’ll call them and see what was up with that unemployment thing…” as opposed to not knowing how to interview, much less selecting someone for an interview, then badgering them about the thing you don’t like.

          1. De Minimis*

            I think he’d expected that I’d somehow gained further experience in the two years since I initially contacted him, but if he’d even checked out my updated resume he would have known that wasn’t the case.

            Another thing he really got hung up on was my inactive CPA license. The continuing ed is expensive when you don’t have an employer to help pay for it, and I just wasn’t having success finding opportunities with firms the longer I was unemployed, so I just put it into inactive status [my state allows that.] He couldn’t get over that either.

            I never bothered to reactivate it, my current career path seems to be taking me away from public accounting, so I don’t feel a need to reactivate it any time soon. It’s weird that I’m a CPA who has never actually practiced public accounting–I passed the exam and met the experience requirement [technically] at my first job, but was let go before I could get my license. I did get my license the following year but I’ve never worked in public accounting since that first job.

  11. AdminAnon*

    I agree with all of the above. I recently came off of a year long job hunt and I hardly heard back from anyone throughout the process. One of the most egregious examples is a company where I had previously interned. A position opened up in their marketing department and I, of course, eagerly applied. I went through 2 interviews with the CEO who I had worked closely with during my year long internship. I was told that I would hear back by such-and-such date one way or the other. The day came and went, so I shot her a quick email and recieved an out-of-office response. Fine. So I waited a week and called to leave a message. Two weeks later, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and saw a post from a former co-worker welcoming the new employee–in the job I had applied for! Needless to say, I was NOT happy. I sent a quick email to the CEO thanking her for the opportunity to apply and wishing her the best of luck with the new hire. Two weeks later I got a voicemail telling me that I hadn’t gotten the job.

    And that was from someone I knew well and had worked with.

    OP, I feel your pain! But just know that you WILL find something. I did, and I love my new job :)

    1. AF*

      That is horrible!! And is it really going to send a hiring manager over the edge to send out 3-4 “thanks but we hired someone else” emails to the other people who were interviewed? I don’t think so!

      1. Anonymous*

        In my company and my previous company, the hiring manager does not handle the communication with candidates. The recruiter or HR person does.

        1. Anon*

          This company doesn’t have on-site HR. The hiring communication was all handled by the CEO (who happened to be the hiring manager for the position).

  12. Kathy*

    As a a long-term (9 months) unemployed, mature candidate I have felt the frustration of the current job market on many levels.

    1. Employers seem to shy away from the long-term unemployed
    2. Employers also seem to favor younger candidates over the more mature candidate

    Having stated that – to also deal with unresponsive potential employers and recruiters has made my job search one of the worst ever. I worked as a recruiter and business development manager in the employment industry for many years and my former employer(s) would never tolerate non-responsiveness to candidate regardless of the message – positive or negative. It’s simply common courtesy as well as good business practice.

    One of these days (and it can’t happen too soon) the tables will turn and there will be more jobs than candidates. Companies will be scrambling to hire. Companies and recruiters that have been rude and unresponsive will be remembered by those effected.

    1. JM in England*

      Kathy, my views on your two points:-

      1. Employers don’t seem to appreciate that an unemployed (especially long term) candidate will be more grateful for the job and therefore more likely to do their best to make it work. Also, a u/e candidate is available almost immediately.

      2. Younger candidates are more likely to accept a lower salary and can be more easily moulded into the “company” way of doing things.

      Just my two cents!

  13. Anonymous*

    At the last company I worked at, I found out (after the fact) that a conversation along the following lines went out on a Wednesday regarding a salesperson that was supposed to start two days later (yes, first day on a Friday….no, I don’t know why, either):

    IT [to Finance]: We need to get Jane Doe in sales set up with a new computer. Here’s the purchase order.

    Head of Finance: 0_0 …What?! I wasn’t informed of any new hires.

    Head of Sales: We interviewed Jane three weeks ago, and she accepted our offer just over two weeks ago. She spoke not only with me but with X, Y, and Z.

    [One long email chain of bickering later]

    Head of Sales: You know what? Forget it. We can get by without Jane.

    And yes, the offer was pulled from under Jane’s feet two days before she was supposed to start. That was the final straw that got me out of that hellhole of a company as quickly as I could.

    1. Sarah*

      Oh, that poor woman. And she had probably already quit her current job (if she had one). How awful!

  14. ChristineSW*

    I’ve had people make offers of help and then disappear.

    Ugh this has been my biggest issue. To be clear, I am NOT expecting said people to get me a job; rather, I just want to pic their brain about their particular type of work. Some have gladly said I may contact them, but when I do….nothing. I’m the type that will only make one or two attempts, and then let it drop because I don’t like coming across as a nag. I get that people are incredibly busy these days, but if you really don’t have time for me, don’t invite me to contact you in the first place! (Okay, maybe that’s harsh, but it’s how I feel sometimes!)

    1. fposte*

      Are your followup emails general or specific? If they’re general “I’d love to talk to you sometime about work” emails, it might be more effective to get specific about the topic and the request–“Would you be able to have afternoon coffee in the next couple of weeks to talk about transitioning into research?” I know it’s a lot easier for me to respond to the second kind of query because the person asking has done the administration for the conversation–I can tweak the time if need be, but I don’t have do the planning. (If you’re already doing that, my apologies for being redundant for you, but I know some people don’t.)

      1. ChristineSW*

        fposte – No apology necessary :) It’s always good to be reminded of what works best in these type of situations.

        I just looked at one email exchange (she kept having to push back the meeting date), and, while she knew generally what I wanted to ask about, I probably could have been more specific. (As a matter of fact, research–specifically program evaluation–was in fact what I was looking to talk to her about!)

    2. Jennifer*

      If someone offers me something like this, almost every single time it never happens. I just take it as a “oh, that’s nice” and forget about it these days. Money doesn’t go where mouths are, if you know what I mean.

  15. WWWONKA*

    Like others have said, it’s ok not to hear back from just sending in a resume. But, to put in the effort to talk to them via phone and be told that you would hear from them or to do a face to face and never hear from them again is just plain rude and inconsiderate. I don’t care how busy they are, there’s no excuse and they need to remember that it may be them one day.

    1. Anonymously Anonymous*

      and if they take the time to bring in someone for an interview at least follow up with a rejection letter via email/mail…

  16. Mike C.*

    I’m pretty sure that the “Mail Merge” function has been in existence for over 30 years (I seem to remember it on the Apple IIgs I had IN KINDERGARTEN), so there’s simply no excuse not to respond to candidates.

    If you submit an application, you should receive an automated confirmation that it was received. If you have an preliminary interview, you’re owed an email. If you show up for an interview, you’re a call, or at the very least an email in which your name is spelled correctly.

    I don’t care “what the economy looks like”, it doesn’t give anyone the right to waste the time or others or to treat them like crap.

    1. Chloe*

      Agree with your sentiment, but mail merge is my own personal version of hell, so I wouldn’t say thats an easy way to correspond with anyone.

  17. rw*

    This is how we set it up in my department:

    1. We automatically send a confirmation of receipt to candidates when we receive their application.

    2. We automatically add every candidate for a job to a mass rejection draft email for that job that very politely thanks them and informs them we will be moving forward with more qualified candidates.

    3. When we’ve chosen whom to interview, we remove them from the above mass rejection email and add them to a smaller mass rejection email. We then send the above mass rejection email to the candidates we did not interview.

    4. When we’ve chosen whom to hire and all negotiations are complete, we remove them from the smaller mass rejection email. We then send the smaller mass rejection email to the interview candidates we did not hire.

    We use at minimum a two-person confirmation for the drafts before we send them out, usually an HR manager and the hiring manager. Also, we’ve set it up to use simple UI so the hiring manager can click on the mass rejection email to change it for all candidates (e.g. to add a tentative hiring schedule to the confirmation of receipt), or she can click on a recipient and individualize the mass rejection email for that candidate (e.g. for interviewed candidates).

    It should be a simple system for many companies to implement if they wish. We used it as a project for our comp sci recent grads to, and they had it up and running within 2 weeks.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Wow, that’s awesome. It’s a lot easier to keep track of a smaller list and remove a few people rather than add every single applicant in on the first or second email.

    2. Limon*

      It’s an easy system to use, if you actually want to use it. Quite a few companies and people chose not to use it.

      Great system, I would definitely use it. Good will is priceless.

  18. Anonymously Anonymous*

    I can’t even imagine the frustration of someone who has no job must feel with the hiring process now–especially the no response part. I’m beginning to apply so much (my return date is approaching) I can’t keep straight who and what I applied to. I’ve tried to be more organized with my search and application process but the fact of it being a numbers thing is causing my organization to suffer. So while I have mentally moved on –maybe a little too much so—what happens when these people call me back and I have no clue what the heck or who the heck they are? /Some of these places are no where near connected. How should I prep for the interview or better yet how do I respond to phone screen…
    Just me panicking….

    1. Anonymous*

      I would recommend starting a job search folder on your desktop. Make a subfolder for every job applied to. I label mine by month and year, e.g. “2013 Aug – Teaport Corp.” Copy and paste the online job description into Word and save in the folder, along with your personalized cover letter. The job description might not be online anymore when you need to find it, so I learned the hard way to keep my own copy. This has helped me immensely. At one point I also kept an Excel file of all jobs applied to.

      1. Anonymously Anonymous*

        Thanks! I actually did that. And just like my once neatly folded shirt drawer it has become a bit unorganized. Then most of the jobs I’m applying to have online application system with all my info stored there. I guess I should start separate folder just for those positions or putting it in Excel.

        I should go tidy up a bit and make an excel sheet ;)

        1. voluptuousfire*

          Keeping a log is a great idea. I have one in Excel where I just keep track of the title, company name, date I applied, if its full or part time , where and how I applied (email, website, Monster, etc.) I only keep track of links for Craigslist jobs. I also save PDF files of the job description and label is “job title company name 8.12” and save it to my job description folder.

          Getting any more detailed would drive me nuts. :)

    2. Anonymously Anonymous*

      –actually I’ve been letting all unrecognizable numbers go to voicemail so I can then have a chance to collect myself and remember

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Take a deep breath, and blow it out slowly. Don’t panic! :)

      What helped me was a spreadsheet. I entered the company, the job, the date I applied, etc. in columns on each row and used color-coded highlights to mark each one. Yellow was for ones that I had interviews upcoming or had but hadn’t heard back yet (active), purple was for Nos or No Replys, and orange was for ones where the job fell through or for some reason was unfeasible (like one for an insurance company where they posted that they had decided not to keep the position). I would update it every day when I went through my email, or if someone contacted me or I got a rejection.

      I had a big folder called Job Stuff and inside, kept sub-folders with electronic copies of job listings. I always kept a copy when I applied because they would often have been pulled by the time someone called me for an interview, and that way I could refer back to it.

      I also had a folder for cover letters. Each file was named with the position title, the application date, and the company. In hindsight, it probably would have made more sense to put company first, but whatever!

      Figure out a system that works for you. Keep it simple so it doesn’t get hard to find stuff. Then make it part of your application routine to save the listing, make your spreadsheet entry, etc., every time you apply for something.

      Good luck!!

      1. Anonymously Anonymous*

        Thanks! It was you that had saw on here talking about organizing the job folders and the excel sheet! Oh, those darn cover letters are where my files are getting to be messy! I’m going to commit to organizing it today as well as creating a spreadsheet.

  19. De Minimis*

    I have had that happen, sadly. A recruiter contacted me about a company, just a casual conversation. A few months later, the company calls me out of the blue and starts doing a phone pre-interview, making no mention of the recruiter or anything else like that. I do my best given the lack of notice, but I guess it wasn’t enough. Just plain bad behavior all around…

    That’s another thing I hate, a LOT of companies are calling candidates out of nowhere and wanting to do a phone interview right then and there.

    1. JM in England*

      On-the-spot phone interviews are also a pet peeve of mine. As I mentioned in the post on “10Things jobseekers hate about recruiters” last week, they don’t seem to appreciate that a phone interview needs at least as much prep as an in-person one.

      Also, if they call when you are away from home, it means that you don’t have your notes to hand.

      1. De Minimis*

        I know I had to pull over by the side of the road numerous times in order to attempt to do a phone interview.

        Of course, it’s gone the other way too, I also got a firm offer for my current job while I was driving…

  20. Mallorie, the recruiter*

    I’d like to think I am the most awesome recruiter alive (duh!) but even I am guilty of some of this bad behavior and it is 100% due to workload. There are literally weeks where I am on back to back calls, interviews, meetings, and after 60 hours, there doesn’t seem to be time for anything else. While the candidate experience is something I care about, there just are some bigger priorities on my plate sometimes. So, while rudeness is sure to be the reason for some, I have to believe that some of it is just honest-to-god oversights. Sometimes, as a recruiter, I am waiting on my own updates…so keep that in mind too! So-and-so has to talk to so-and-so before I can call so-and-so, its exhausting! But if someone emails me, I will try to respond with a quick- You’ll know as soon as I do! But AAM is right… totally not personal. And try not to be frustrated because that can start to affect more than just your personal attitude, but also your job search! You don’t want this bad behavior of others to spurn your own- I’ve seen it happen :-/

  21. Anonymous*

    Yes, this party is quite large. I am becoming more and more cynical about the whole process and don’t really expect responses after interviews anymore. The final straw for me was when a woman I knew personally (and who claimed to be really excited about me at one time) failed to respond to my direct email about a position. It sucks having to be on your Very Best Behavior as a candidate but know you are going to be treated so unprofessionally.

  22. Anon*

    I can imagine this is very, very frustrating, especially when you’re in a position where you change any of this behavior and just have to be subject to it.

    Not to defend any of this, but I can understand the lack of follow-up. I’m responsible for hiring/recruitment at my company, and it’s my only job (meaning I’m not an HR Generalist who also hires – my only responsibility is hiring). And let me assure you, it IS a full-time job. However, a lot of companies don’t have a dedicated in-house recruiter. I can imagine that timely follow-up and feedback can fall by the wayside when it’s not really part of your job description. For instance, rejections/feedback is so time consuming that I have to set a block of time weekly to get through everything.

    That being said, there are things I have little patience for. For instance, rescinding interviews. I’ve never done this – if we find someone we want to make an offer to and have other candidates scheduled for an interview, we’ll interview the other candidates before making a final decision. Rescinding interviews just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    Also, it’s worth saying that a lot of this stuff is just common sense. I’m sure none of these companies would act this way towards a client, but they’re in a position of power in the hiring process, and they abuse that power.

    I’d just remember that any company that acts this way towards candidates probably has other unseemly practices or systemic disorganization. The way they treat hiring is a glimpse into the inner workings of the company, and I wouldn’t want to work for any company that treats candidates this way.

    1. Paul*

      As a job seeker, I’d much rather have an invitation to interview rescinded if you have already found the candidate you want to hire. It is a waste of everyone’s time.

        1. Mallorie, the recruiter*

          I wouldn’t say it is a waste as interviewing is always good practice… plus, you may change their mind! I once encouraged a manager to keep an interview she wanted to cancel (I agree- leaves a bad taste in my mouth to do that!) and she ended up wanting to make an offer to the 2nd person! You never know, they may THINK they know who they want to hire, but if you end up dazzling them, could sway them the other way!

    2. Anonymous*

      This is so bizarre. Rescinding interviews leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but what about wasting the time and getting the hopes up of the applicants who now have no chance of getting the job? Time they could spend on their job search instead. I mean I appreciate that this seems to come from a good place, but it still strikes me as odd.

      1. Anon*

        It’s not bizarre – I don’t think I explained it correctly.

        What I was trying to say is that we don’t make a hiring decision until we’ve seen all the candidates we’ve scheduled for interviews. We may really like candidate X, but we’ll still want to interview candidates Y and Z before making a hiring decision. So it’s by no means a waste of time for the interviewees – if candidate Y is a better fit, we may decide to proceed with them instead of candidate X.

        1. OP*

          I ended up finding out by an automated email after two weeks of “scheduling conflicts” that the position had been filled. The HR person responded right away when I inquired if this was true. It would have been nice for her to let me know given that I had spent so much time trying to sort out my schedule. I would have liked to go on the interview regardless, it would have given me a chance to get to know them and for them to meet me. If it hadn’t been this position, I’m sure I would’ve shown them that they needed me for the next one. I’d never had this happen before but I’d never had a job offer with a start date rescinded either. Thank you Anon and Mallorie for your feedback from “the other side” :)

        2. Anonymous*

          Yes. That’s completely different that just not rescinding interviews. Thanks for clarifying.

  23. De Minimis*

    It’s funny though, the employers who treated me best as an applicant were the smaller ones that had the fewest resources dedicated to recruiting.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Really? I have had the exact opposite happen, except for when applying (many large companies use that horrible application software because they get so many people).

      1. De Minimis*

        Yes, I got calls/e-mails from the actual people who interviewed me with smaller businesses. The larger ones that had full time HR people were the ones that never contacted me or even were outright dishonest [the one I mentioned in a previous post here.]

        I also had a decent experience [at as far as getting a response] with most of the federal/city government jobs I applied to, and those are supposed to be the worst.

  24. kdizzle*

    One thing that I find happening more often is that I’m receiving phone calls for jobs I interviewed for months and sometimes YEARS ago. From places that never formally rejected me as a candidate. Interview after interview and then….nothing…radio silence.

    Today I got a call from a place I interviewed with two years ago…they were impressed with my skills TWO YEARS AGO when I interviewed, and now they would like to know if I’m interested in a similar job TWO YEARS later.

    Two years ago, when I interviewed, I was actually interested in the job, however, after multiple follow ups, they never responded to me….not even to say, “thanks, but no thanks.”

    Honestly, what’s the rationale for not following up with people who you interviewed, liked, and may want to hire in the future?

  25. K Too*

    OP, I feel your frustration as I experienced your current position up until last spring. I even blew up at a recruiter at one point for wasting my time.

    Just keep it in the back of your mind that something will come along eventually. You have to make a living somehow.

    Leave the interview at the interview otherwise, you will drive yourself crazy analyzing every single word that was said, what possibly went wrong, etc.

    There are jerks abound in corporate/non-corporate America and if you don’t get an offer from them, consider yourself lucky.

  26. Jill*

    I went through 18 months of rough job hunting that resulted in a couple of short term projects. The first time I read Alison’s advice to put it out of my mind I thought she was crazy (no offense!) but the truth is is that she says it because if you continue to apply for jobs and think that you’ll eventually run into a company who respects us job hunters as much as we know we deserve to be respected it could really set you up to go crazy! Things happen, some employers suck but some really do treat their candidates well. I have a laundry list of terrible things that have happened to me, seriously some ridiculous stuff. What has helped me is reminding myself that I will never be “that” employer when I am in a position to hire people and also I have shared my troubles with friends/family in hiring positions and many of them have changed the way they handle hiring because they see how much it can affect a candidates state of mind when companies just ignore them or treat them badly!

  27. OP*

    Thank you so much AAM for responding to my question – and thanks to everyone that replied. I appreciate the support and feel much less alone.

    I hate the idea that I have to consider every offer of help to be empty, every “I’ll get back to you” to be a dead end until someone bothers to come through, but I think that’s healthier for me. I don’t understand it and I can’t relate to it, but I also can’t change it. It’s sad that it is so commonplace. Maybe that will change with so many of us having gone through it ourselves.

    It’s hard because I feel that if I can’t get them to keep up their end of the deal (like sending me a tech test) I’m not sure how I’ll ever make it through the process. Hearing that others have made it through helps, I’ll just keep trying and doing everything I can – and hope that my turn comes soon.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Don’t think of it as empty. Think of it as “I had this task to do, and now it’s done. I schedule a follow-up in X amount of time, and don’t have to think about it until then.” Approach it as you would work tasks, and it will be sooooo much easier to not think about it when the item is checked off the list.

      And make sure you schedule some at-home stuff, or Me time in there too. I got a lot of projects around the house done while I was unemployed–those that didn’t require much money, but did need more of my time than I could spare while I was working. I even finished a novel that I had been goofing off on! :D

      1. PJ*

        Oh, yeah, I got TONS of decluttering and reorganizing done! And I started an exercise program and lost 17 pounds. I agree with Elizabeth — make use of the time you have. This is a sanity-protector.

  28. Cara Carroll*

    Alison is correct this is just the way it is. To be a job hunter takes thick skin. What I find as a job hunter makes it easier is to lower the bar. I just expect to not ever be contacted after phone or in-person interviews. Then when the good ones do it is nice, and when the bad/other ones don’t I just take it as “it wasn’t meant to be”. Job seekers are fighting three things, People, Processes, and Technology- and there is only one of us so understandably it is tough. I have been looking for quite a while and just wanted to give up many, many times. If *all* you are doing is applying though you are missing a key piece of the job seeking equation, networking. I do believe that networking can keep your spirits up, interacting with other job seekers and others in your field can show you are ambitious and not willing to give up. Sometimes it is just nice being around others who are in the same boat as you, I have mentioned in my comments before finding your local church job seeking networks as they can be a source of hope I think even if you might not be spiritual. Becoming involved in organizations that pertain to your field can also keep you busy and perhaps supply you with great connections, alumni associations tend to have job seekers as well. I completely understand the frustration of a job seeker, I also am a recruiter for my current company so I always keep the other side in mind because I am on it too. I follow up with every candidate and answer every question I can to the best of my ability throughout the interview/hiring process. I myself am a human resources professional, and I try not to let myself forget about the “human” part of my title. Good luck in your search OP!

  29. nyxalinth*

    OP that sucks a lot, and I really feel you. Been going through the same thing myself.

    I’m currently unemployed, and have been since December of 2011. I’ve decided after reading everything here that I will just assume that people will be rude or overwhelmed, that the job isn’t mine until I start and maybe not even until my 90 days have passed, dream jobs don’t exist (just ones you love, or at least somewhat less annoying than crappy jobs), and liars are gonna lie in job ads and leave stuff out that should have been in and etc. Been much happier–if more cynical–since then :D

  30. Lily*

    I don’t want to defend employers either, but I do want to explain how complicated this can be. If several people are making the hiring decision, then everyone has to get involved to send what the candidate thinks is a simple “no”. And then we plan that the interviews will take place in week X and someone gets sick and then it takes some time to re-schedule and we aren’t allowed to make the appointments directly, because HR has to make them for legal reasons. And then we don’t know if your top candidate will accept the offer, even days before the start date, so we want to put off sending the rejection letters.

    Some commenters have said they wouldn’t want to work for companies which behave so inconsiderately and that’s valid.
    I have thought about explaining our process to candidates, but I have decided that the bureacrucy is just as bad once you are working here, so if you need too much hand-holding and reassurance during the hiring process, you’ll probably be unhappy and blaming me for all the bureaucracy on the job.

    1. Anonymous*

      It can’t possibly be legal reasons. As AAM usually says, “there’s no law” mandating that only HR can contact job candidates. Instead it’s probably just a bloated HR policy.

      1. PJ*

        Yeah, this doesn’t make sense. I hand off every part of the process I can in order to keep things on track. Scheduling interviews is something a reasonably competent admin can do — and they don’t need to be an HR admin, either.

        1. J*

          “I have thought about explaining our process to candidates, but I have decided that the bureaucracy is just as bad once you are working here, so if you need too much hand-holding and reassurance during the hiring process, you’ll probably be unhappy and blaming me for all the bureaucracy on the job.”

          This is the best statement about the disconnect between applicants and employers I’ve ever read. If you had a magazine I would be a subscriber. Well done.

          1. Lily*

            Even though you have done it so masterfully that I’m not offended, I detect sarcasm, so I’d like to explain that the sentence before the quote is extremely important. There are well-qualified candidates who I might lose because the process is long and frustrating. While status updates are very reasonable, I will not try to keep them by apologizing and explaining and reassuring, because then I will have to continue to run interference for them afterwards. If they can’t stand bureaucracy, and it isn’t for everyone, then they shouldn’t be working here.

      2. Lily*

        It may be “just” HR policy, but I have to follow it anyway and they are trying to make sure that we follow some law.

    2. LadyTL*

      Wanting to know if the job has actually been filled or not after you have interviewed for the position really isn’t needing alot of handholding or reassurance either.

      1. J*

        You could make the argument that if you have to call and see if the job has been filled after you interviewed then you probably have your answer already (not always the case obviously, but more often than not).

        1. J*

          @ Lily

          I apologize if that came off as sarcastic but I was truly being sincere. That really is a great description.

  31. Elizabeth West*

    Good luck to everyone here that is searching. I hope you all find an awesome job–not dream job, because there isn’t one, but one that gives you exactly what you need to be happy (and pays enough to live!).


        1. Anonymous*

          I understand your stance on this, but I think a lot of your readers miss your point and just mindlessly parrot what they think you are saying about dream jobs.

          You are not saying there is no such thing as a dream job, you are saying that you don’t think an applicant can know that from the outside.

          The poster above states that she does not wish that people on this thread find dream jobs because such a thing does not exist.

  32. BGirl81*

    Oh OP, I feel for you! About a month ago I had a phone interview that went well and the internal recruiter told me she was looking at the coming Tuesday for an interview, but couldn’t nail down a specific time. However, she made it clear that the team I would be interviewing with could ONLY do that Tuesday. I told her I understood and would leave the day open. SPOILER ALERT:
    I never heard from her again and now the job description is down.
    I mean…she knew I had held the day and how hard is it to send an email saying that they hired someone else/put the job on the backburner, etc.?! I personally have be feeling really frustrated about this (and the many other times it’s happened so far) and really loved your response Alison!

  33. Leslie Yep*

    This post & comments just lit a fire under me to reach out to the candidates we weren’t moving forward in our current pool.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      Good for you!

      For all the modern technology, e-gadgets and i-gadgets, and all the over-sharing on social media, this is really a very impersonal world. A simple communication from people we’ve interviewed with goes a long way in allowing us to keep our dignity as human beings.

  34. eh*

    To me hard part for me is dealing with this when it is an internal hiring process.

    I can take strangers not responding after an interview, but if I am someone you see every day, why can’t you give me heads up that they went another way?

  35. AB*

    I wonder if hiring managers realize how stupid it is to cease contact with the people they interviewed for a position. In theory, the people brought in for an actual interview are the best candidates in the applicant pool, no?

    Suppose you ask / fly candidates in for an interview, and later only contact the person you want to hire (or none of them, if the company decides not to fill the position at that time).

    What happens if the candidate you hire doesn’t work out / gets promoted, or a similar position opens up? Wouldn’t you want the top candidates from your previous interviewing process to *want* to apply again? Or do you just hope there will be a completely different set of great candidates that you can select for an interview the next time (because the previous group was treated poorly and now don’t want anything to do with your company)?

    I guess I’ll never understand. I make sure I follow up with every single person I interview, even offering to forward their resume to another company when the candidate sounds promising and I know someone else is looking for a person with the same profile. Sure, it adds work to my busy schedule, but not only this is the right thing to do, who knows what the future holds — one day I may be applying to a job and the candidate will be on the interviewer side!

    1. Smiles*

      I guess that in this job market there is no shortage of qualified applicants for any one position. I bet candidates are willing to put up with lack of courtesy because they really need jobs. I absolutely love that you offer to forward candidate resumes! Wish there were more like you but I understand not everyone has the time or ability to do so.

      1. AB*

        “I guess that in this job market there is no shortage of qualified applicants for any one position. ”

        Smiles, it may be so for positions that don’t require much previous experience*, but I can tell it’s not for all roles. I am friends with some recruiters and they complain to me from time to time how hard it is to find qualified people for certain positions for which just a degree is not enough, you need to have had exposure to the type of work in order to perform well. For these types of positions it’s very easy for a candidate to be picky about where they want to work, so I’m guessing that at least for these types of jobs recruiters and hiring managers are being more considerate and getting in touch with the candidates.

        *And I’m not talking about being too picky. I have friends who are looking for a job after finishing a PhD, but I can’t hire them because they have zero experience working on the type of projects we work with. It’s unfortunate that more companies don’t have apprenticeship programs, because we end up with lots of unqualified candidates (even if overeducated) and lots of openings we can’t fill because they are not capable of performing the tasks at the level required for the job. I kept pushing, and now have two trainees working under me so at some point they are ready to take the work.

  36. AF*

    I was just having a pity party for myself about this very thing today. Because job hunting consumes so much time and mental and emotional energy, it’s natural to get upset when you get nowhere or people are jerks. And it is directly tied to our ability to support ourselves and our self-esteem, so it’s okay, and I would suggest NORMAL, to get upset about it. It’s one thing when there are concrete areas in which you could use improvement, but when you feel like you’ve tried everything, it can feel like there’s something horribly wrong with you if you’re getting nowhere.

    I say this for myself as much as for anyone else, but it’s totally okay to be upset sometimes, and to take care of yourself as much as possible. I think it will ultimately make us stronger, but you are a human being, and as hippie-dippy as it sounds, you have to honor your awesomeness and take a break sometimes, or you’ll go insane.

      1. AF*

        Thanks K Too! AAM has had some incredible posts recently that have perfectly fit my life (and actually, the specific job I was having a pity party about). I am so grateful to have found this site and the awesome support here!

  37. AF*

    Also, I saw this hilarious Twitter post today that is oddly appropriate, from Grumpy Cat: “If Britney Spears can get through 2007, you can get through today.”

  38. Meghan*

    You are so right! While you don’t need me to sit here and tell you this, I feel as though a bit of reassurance from someone else would help validate your explanation to your readers (though I’m sure others have done plenty to help validate).
    It’s extremely unfortunate. In fact, I have terrible luck when it comes to getting a job. I’m socially awkward at times and when it comes to having charm or being smooth in any aspect, I simply don’t have it. People find this strange and in return don’t want to hire me.
    Luckily, two and a half years ago I applied for a job — I entered the building, filled out an application and while I was driving home they called me and set an appointment for an interview which I was actually hired immediately after the interview ended. This is absolutely not normal whatsoever! I was shocked and ecstatic at the same time.
    Considering I’ve had such ridiculously bad luck with job interviews in my past, I’ve spent the remainder of the time since I’ve been hired at this location in fear that I will never find another job!
    While I could very well be wrong about this, I certainly don’t want to find out — so instead of finding a job that possibly pays more or that is possibly closer to home, I ride passenger day in and day out to my job 30 minutes away from my house 5 days and 7 shifts a week.
    It’s tough out there.. especially with the economy being so bad.

  39. Limon*

    “We must honor our awesomeness!” I like it.

    I have several part time jobs and so far I like them all very much. I feel like a hunter-gatherer of sorts, out foraging every day for the stuff of life. I have developed some terrific skills and on most days feel genuinely happy. Instead of looking to one job to meet all my needs, I am branching out and expanding my base of experience and with some freelance work thrown in there – I feel pretty blessed.

    We can be challenged in hard circumstances to develop levels of character that were previously dormant, and I have decided to do that. I feel like a different person. Yes it has been scary and feels weird sometimes, but I feel that it’s all in how we chose to look at our situations. It can be a great opportunity for change.

  40. Jessa*

    I can live without a response to an application. But if you tell me I’m to come in for a test, or start on a date, or have an interview with Sam, for heaven’s sake, follow up. That’s something that should not be happening with 100 people. That should be a limited amount of people to keep contact with.

  41. A Hiring Manager*

    When I interview for one position I may interview 20 individuals who make it through the initial screening process. Then comes the second and final interviews. Interviews are time consuming and exhausting and there are ALOT of qualified (and great) people out there. I never called them ALL back just the last few candidates who made it through the second or third interview. I have to say that I never really gave it that much thought considering that everyone sort of expected not to be called back if they didn’t get the job. When I was job hunting, no one ever called me back and I never took it personally. After reading this forum, I have changed that. I now take the time to call them all back. It is a short 1 minute conversation ‘Thank you for taking the time to interview with us, however, we have made another selection for the position you applied for’ if they were a good candidate I invite them to apply again in the future, if they interviewed well, I tell them that, if they didn’t, I keep it short and to the point. A few will even ask what they could have done better. Sometimes they take it well, sometimes they don’t, but they generally thank me for taking the time to call them back. It’s alot more work but in the end I feel better knowing I did the right thing.

  42. Ontarah*

    Not contacting someone after conducting an interview is just tacky, whether someone is busy or not. I mean come on, how much time does it take to write two sentences in an email for the 12 or so people who got interviewed. Heaven forbid you take 15 minutes out your busy day to write about a page worth of content.

    If I am ever in a position to hire people, I am going to make it a point to not be a complete jerk about this.

  43. steve*

    I’ll never understand why there are so many employer apologists out there. “It’s just business” they say. Guess that robots are more important than human beings these days. Scary, but society is becoming similar to that of the story of I-Robot!

  44. Anonymous*

    I’m curious if anyone has ever emailed the recruiter calling them out on their rudeness? I too am in the had a “great” interview and was told by the director, who would be my boss that she “really loved” my experience and then nothing after the fact. It’s been two weeks so I sent a follow up email although I’ve been down this road before. Whenever you have multiple interviews in the span of a week and then communication stops, the writing is on the wall. Nonetheless it really pisses me off that companies do this. I’m contemplating emailing the hiring managers to say their behavior is rude, unprofessional and inconsiderate. And that they should be respectful of the time candidates invest in the process. All it takes is 1 minute to draft a quick rejection email.

  45. OP*

    No, I haven’t. I’ve wanted to though…. But clearly since I’m the one looking for a job I don’t have the upper hand. I just see it as one of life’s injustices, hope to do better if I’m in the same position and think it’s a perfect opportunity for karma to make a visit. (Although I don’t believe in it). I’m still freelancing and happy for it instead of working for a schmuck.

  46. virginia*

    This week I spent over $30.00 on job interviews. I went to an interview and then was told to go home as the Director of Nursing was busy. 3 other interviews for a total of 140 miles. They were called interviews…but they were really an in person resume drop off. A lot of time and money . I had my lights shut off last week and when the freezer is empty I will have nothing. I give up. I will be living in my care before long…no one appreciates the stress of not having a job….I give up.

  47. Joanie*

    I am a computer programmer and what really baffles me is that in this day and age with online application systems, it should be dead simple to
    1) send a response saying application received,
    2) when x number of candidates are selected for interviews, send automated emails to the remaining candidates that they did not make the selection. This should be as simple as a checkbox in front of each candidate. On submit, if checkbox is not checked, send automated rejection email

  48. suzie30*

    Ha . This website actually makes me feel better.

    I had a couple bad experiences too. Honestly I think it is rude.

    The thing that makes it worse is that I experienced this with companies that claim on their website to be extremely professional and non bureaucratic.

    1. An employer actually asked me to call them for a second interview and then when I called them they were avoiding me and refused to tell me why until I wrote to the Director of the company.

    2. An employer told me he was going to make me an offer and then two days later he tells me he is not going to make me an offer for a number of reasons which never came up as issues in prior interviews. Also he didn’t want to say exactly what the reasons were. Which adds insult to injury.

    Some people are just lacking in class. They are just rude. That is life. You just have to not take it personal.

    At the end of the day, most corporations do not care about you. You are just a slave.

    Obviously if they treat you like you guys described above it means they are not worth working for. It is better to find out before than after you sign the contract.

    I think the whole corporate world is a joke.

    It is split between the companies that pretend to like you and those that make it clear they don’t really give a damn unless you would make a good slave.

    I am quite privileged at the moment in that I do not have to work but I would like to go back to work. I however am becoming less and less motivated to do so when I think of all the reasons why I left my former jobs. It was always because of something that I hated relating to the corporate world.

    Good luck to all of you.

    Slavery was never abolished it just no longer relates to a particular race and you actually get paid nowadays. However the attitude towards the slave has not changed. Think about it.

    It is a business contract , not a personal relationship. You have to learn to just ignore it and get over it.


  49. Jamie*

    I agree. Job Hunting first of all is a job. People are so….rude. They just don’t care. It was alot easier to get a job 15 years ago. I resent being interviewed by someone who is 24 years old. They are judging us to see if we are qualified. I prefer to be interviewed by a Vice President of Human Resources. They get it. In addition, HR people are unbelievable. When you follow up after having three interviews and there isn’t a response, I never understood this. We make the time to go and meet everyone. Even if we are not getting the job, we do want closure one way or another. They shouldn’t do to people what they wouldn’t want done to themselves.. I wonder if they have been unemployed.

  50. Ryan Davis*

    Employers will always find people desperate people just hoping to feed themselves and prey upon it knowing that people like Ms. Green here will rationalize the behavior as part of everyday business.

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