Advice for Employers Who Never Respond
The job market is going through the annual influx of new college graduates. It happens every year at the same time. There are no surprises.
As the President of a college I hear from the recent graduates as they seek fame and fortune in that first job. The process is exciting at first. The technology allows for an incredible inventory of possibilities. Go to any really large company website and it will show hundreds, maybe thousands of openings for a recent graduate. Go to any big job site and enter any keyword like recent graduate or trainee or associate or entry-level or start-up and thousands more openings will pop up. Wow.
As the newly minted graduate, you may not know exactly what kind of work you want to do so you do a little trolling. You aced both art history and marketing so why not try a few different things? And it looks like there are lots of positions for which you are perfectly suited. The “send” button is hot from all the connections being made with employers. Sure, there is lots of competition for the right spots but you worked hard. Applying for lots of positions is not like playing the lottery. It’s more like placing a hat in the ring for consideration. The possibilities can put you in a mild state of arousal. Until the silence. Total silence.
The silence creates frustration. It is a huge frustration when applicants don’t hear back from places where they’ve applied. Not a word. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. Aaaargh. The arousal previously mentioned doesn’t last long. How hard can it be to send even a little acknowledgment?
I don’t get it. Everyone understands that a thoughtful response is impossible with so many applicants. There also isn’t a need for a false hope message to be delivered. All that is required is a polite acknowledgment. “Polite” is the operative word here.
Come on employers, you can do better. I know you can. You have technologies that can scrape key words off of resumes. You have sophisticated CRM systems. You have cloud computing and big data available. You have apps, 3D printers, GPS, optical scanners, flux capacitors and talent managers. You can do better. Employers, you know that no reply to someone who pours their soul into an application is a little rude. The least you can do is respond with a returned note. In the spirit of making things easier for you, I offer the following response suggestions. None of them will burden your computing capability. None are more than seven words.
First response: “Got it. Stay tuned.” Meaning that at least the resume is in the system.
Second response: “Unfortunately.” It may be the cruelest word in the job hunt process but everyone knows what words will follow.
Or another second response: “Looks good. Come in for an interview.” Yipee. Get the interview clothes ready.
Yes, I know there are millions of resumes that fly around every day. And I know that many job seekers flood the applicant pool even though the qualifications fall short. No matter.
Just a few words in an honest response would go along way towards helping the new graduate understand the prospects. Even a “no thanks” is better than never hearing.
The text flashed while I was sitting at the coffee shop. “I’m running a little late, “ she said. She was already five minutes late so that was not a surprise. “No worries”, I texted back. “How late will you be?” The text reply was “@45 minutes”.
Argh – that is really, really late. Late enough that if I waited, my day would be totally disrupted. So we rescheduled for several weeks out. And it was her loss because she was the one who wanted the meeting.
Each of us has dealt with the late person. Sure it’s annoying since no one wants to be left at the altar or the blueberry muffin counter. At the moment we realize our business “date” will be late we have two choices.
- You can let it ruin your day. You can be out of sorts, kick your metaphorical dog and be mean to the person who is late, regardless of the excuse. Or,
- You can take a sigh and use the time productively. Enjoy the latte you bought, check out the news and catch up on those emails you need to get to.
I recommend number two.
Most of us don’t plan to be late and don’t enjoy being late, but it happens. And when it does, the real question becomes – how late is late? Let’s start with being late is never a good thing. Almost always, for the one who is tardy there is stress, a bursting bladder and a dead cell phone. Being late is never fun for the offender.
In a day when business casual could mean shorts and flip flops and dogs hang around at the office what does late mean? It means not on time. (According to some, not being fifteen minutes early is late.) Five minutes late is within a reasonable range and worthy of the good effort grade. Fifteen minutes late is pushing it on the forgiveness scale. And any thing after that is just rude and requires a big apology and the offender to pick up the check. Thirty minutes late will have you wondering why you scheduled the meeting in the first place because it probably won’t start out well.
Excuses and reasons why one is late sort of don’t matter. You are still late. Traffic is no longer a good excuse because there is always traffic. You need to bake that into plans and schedules. Good excuses do exist and they usually involve blood or children.
Late means the same thing on both ends of the business equation whether it be a lunch date or a job interviewer. A late interviewer is just as rude as a late job candidate. A late customer is just as rude as a late sales rep.
For the latecomers, here are some traps to avoid:
- Don’t overbook yourself. It will guarantee that you are always behind schedule and always late.
- Don’t be known as the one who is always late. It will brand you in a disorganized and not happy way.
- Don’t assume that travel will ever go as planned. It never does and you need to bake in lots of time for problems.
- Don’t arrange a meeting without the cell number of the person you are meeting. Just in case there is a big issue you can contact your date.
- Unlike so many other rules in business that are morphing and changing the late rule has not changed. Late is late.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, “better an hour too soon than a minute too late.”
Certain phrases that are part of the workplace are just too good not to use. Certain phrases capture the essence of what’s going on in the organization so perfectly, that further explanation is never needed. The best phrases don’t come out of the CEO’s office, or from consultants or off of the framed vision statement on the wall. The best phrases come out of the bowels of the organization. Management may not even know they exist.
The most creative and cut-to-the-heart-of-the-matter phrases all seem to have something to do with getting things done. Call it implementation, call it execution, call it program management or change management – the name doesn’t matter. The lack of things getting done generates good phrases.
Here are four of my favorites, all from people who do real work.
- Rotating bald tires – Or, wow, this is hard work but all this effort will go nowhere and nothing will change. When you rotate bald tires, you still have four bald tires.
- Building our own coffin. This phrase means we are doing a lot of work and the result will be we are out of a job. This phrase usually comes from project teams involved in cost cutting.
- Same old horses, same old glue. Or, the same people will always generate the same result. Always applies when cost cutting means all the low paid people are eliminated but no one whose photo is on the org chart is.
- And my favorite, “where the rubber meets the air”. Meaning the wheel never hits the ground – the opposite of “where the rubber meets the road”. All the talk is good but nothing will ever get implemented.
Lots of other phrases circulate through a workplace but most are not suitable for publication. With so much going on in the workplace, why does the lack of getting things done generate so much creativity in the catchphrase department? The answer is simple – FRUSTRATION. Nothing will make a team or an individual more frustrated than the sense of working on something that will never get implemented, that nothing will ever change.
Execution of a plan is the most difficult activity of any organization. Strategies and plans can be copied. Who cares? Effective implementation is the secret sauce in any organization and requires discipline and making hard decisions. It’s difficult because it requires changing behaviors – which most people don’t want to do. It requires changing out people – it depends on which side of that change you are on, but most people don’t want to see change in this regard. It also requires making difficult decisions that are by their nature tough to do. Implementation requires courage, which can be hard to come by in some leadership ranks.
I do know that where there is effective implementation, phrases are not necessary because results don’t require phrases. And people generally like their jobs more.
Be alert to the phrase du jour at work, it may tell you more than you think.
What phrase captures daily activity in your organization?