Q: Hi! I am frustrated and hope you can help...I was laid off 2 months ago from a toxic job, but still have not found employment. I have had a few interviews, but nothing has panned out. My most recent interview has me stumped - it went great (I thought), and at the end, the HR rep gave me her card, told me to call/email her any time for an update, and told me things about the 2nd interview. I sent her a thank you letter by email immediately. Then I received a rejection letter in the mail. Any ideas??
A: You raise a common situation that I think many of our readers have experienced during their job hunts. Let’s discuss the positives first.
• You are no longer in a “toxic” job.
• You have had a few interviews.
• There was some initial interest in bringing you back for a second interview.
• You understand the importance of sending a thank you note quickly.
What this tells me is that you are probably applying for appropriate jobs for which you are qualified. Your resume is also probably strong. You have an understanding of professional etiquette and have demonstrated that by emailing a thank you note quickly.
I don’t know what happened in your specific situation. I can offer several educated guesses but they are guesses and I can not be certain that any one of these reasons apply.
Some of the plausible reasons include:
• The employer hired someone else for the position. Another candidate could have been stronger. An internal candidate may have raised their hand during the selection process.
• The company did not fill the position. Or the employer has delayed the filling of the position.
• There was something about your thank you note that was not well received. Either the content or perhaps a glaring typo?
• Perhaps the qualifications or requirements of the job changed? After a hiring manager interviews several candidates, this can happen. After gathering intelligence from candidates, sometimes a different skill set is identified.
HR Reps sometimes have difficulty having these conversations with candidates. While there are candidates who welcome honest feedback, other candidates can become very defensive, even argumentative or belligerent.
Don't let this single outcome impede your search. Dust yourself off and keep swinging.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.