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Tough Times

July 8, 2009
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It’s been a little rough these last few months.  Several of my friends and family members have lost jobs and are now in the ranks of the unemployed or underemployed.  I have been doing what I can to help out and with my HR background, I’ve been resume writer, career coach/counselor, headhunter and interview coach for some of these folks.  It’s nice, feeling like you’re able to contribute a little bit to help out.

But in the course of helping out, I’m hearing some employment search horror stories.  Lots of them.  From the trials of the unemployment office to the long lines at career fairs.  But I expected these stories.  What I did not expect to hear were so many HR horror stories.  You know the ones: 

“I applied online but I feel like I just sent my resume into a black hole.” 

“I’ve called and tried to follow-up with the HR Manager but they won’t return my calls.” 

“I interviewed three weeks ago and haven’t heard back yet.  And I’ve followed-up twice.”

 I’ve tried to counsel these folks on how to get in the door with their company of choice.  There are lots of different ways to navigate these water, and for every position, it may be a little different.  Candidates can find a ton of tips on the web about how to approach the job search. Laurie Ruettimann, of Punk Rock HR, just did a post asking for advice for job seekers and received some really good advice in the comments.  Check it out here.   

 I’ve also tried to take up for my fellow HR professionals by explaining the internal process that we go through when we have an open position to fill. Every company is different but I bet that the process is pretty similar.  It takes time to review all of the resumes that come in, go through the screening process, get the interviews scheduled, get feedback from the interviews and get a decision made on the hire.  It’s time consuming.  So I’ve asked, time and time again, for my friends to be patient. 

But I have to say, to watch a friend who lost their job and severance is running out try to be patient, is heartbreaking.  Especially when it seems like they’ve done all of the right things. 

 A recent tweet from Kris Dunn, on something he heard at one of the SHRM09 conference sessions hit home for me. It said #SHRM09 – Eskenazi nails the candidate closure burden. Any candidate that interviews face to face gets the phone call rather than email….”

 I totally agree.  Frankly, if I’m interested in a candidate, that candidate will know.  I will do what I can to keep the process moving and to keep them updated on the status.   The other side of the equation is a little tougher but when you’re not interested in someone, you still have to have the conversation, especially if the communication process has started.   For me, if I start the communication process, I believe that I have to close the communication process.  If I know after the pre-screen that the candidate is not a fit, I let them know.   If after the interview they’re not a fit, I let them know.  And I try to let them know as soon as possible.   It’s a hard conversation to have but it has to be done. 

It doesn’t always happen as quickly as I would like.  I’m not perfect and I’ve made my mistakes.  And sometimes, things happen.  We get busy.  And sometimes it just takes a little time to work through the feedback/next steps process with the hiring manager.  But I have the conversation.  Keeping someone on hold for weeks without any feedback isn’t good. 

Times are tough right now.  And anything that I can do to make it easier, I’m going to try.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 8, 2009 12:55 pm

    Great post Crystal. While people understand that the hiring process takes time it doesn’t take long to get discouraged if they’re not treated appropriately. Proper customer service should not be suspended just because organizations are in the drivers seat, recruitment-wise.

  2. July 8, 2009 4:11 pm

    crystal, congrats on your blog. and what a great inaugural post. times are tough, and i’m sure that’s true for every HR office out there. they’re also dealing with pressure, fewer resources, and on and on. even so, as one of the front-facing groups for potential hires, HR really needs to step up. if it may take 3 weeks to hear back, make sure the candidate knows. if the close-out process for those not getting called back is a letter or email, make sure the candidate knows. the more the candidate knows about what to expect, the less anxious and dissatisfied he or she will feel.

    again, congrats! looking forward to reading more, f

  3. July 8, 2009 4:45 pm

    Crystal-
    Love the new blog. I know you’ll bring so much to the HR blog arena and I’m excited to watch your blog grow. It’s a shame that candidates are not getting the follow up they desire. As HR pros have more on their plates it becomes harder to add that “personal touch” but we need to strive to provide it. Even if the candidate is not “right” for now, they may be the right fit in the future.

  4. July 8, 2009 4:45 pm

    welcome to the blogosphere, crystal! looking forward to subsequent posts.

    JL

  5. July 8, 2009 5:26 pm

    Great job Crystal! Welcome to the club, and best of luck with the blog, I am adding you to my Google Reader for sure.

  6. Crystal Peterson permalink
    July 8, 2009 9:06 pm

    Thanks everyone for stopping by!
    @Victorio – We don’t want discouraged candidates talking about our brand, right?
    @Fran – Yep, it’s all about managing expectations.
    @hrringleader – so true, the candidate may not be right now, but could be later
    @jessicalee – thanks for the welcome!
    Thanks @Steve! Your Google Reader? Ahhh, the pressure 🙂

  7. Walter Graham permalink
    July 12, 2009 8:16 pm

    Great blog, looking forward to reading more. Big Brother

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