Over a long career, I have worked in 26 different enterprises (I have been laid off 4x) and I always wondered about the protocol re employers response to prospective candidates. I feel that if there is an ongoing communication; application, 2-3 phone interviews then I think the candidate has a right to expect a call/email back regarding their candidacy. What is the generally accepted protocol?
A. Job search behavior, and work behavior do carry some generally accepted protocol on both the part of the applicant or employee, and the employer. For example, most people know to provide at least two weeks notice if they leave a job, or to call their manager if they will be late. Employers know to put offers in writing, and to try and accommodate employees work schedules if they are interviewing.
But expectations, and protocol often change based on reality and the reality is, the volume of candidate inquiry for jobs has become overwhelming to recruiters and human resources staff. Technology has helped give applicants the ability to apply for many more jobs than they might otherwise, and that same technology can be used to acknowledge applications, discourage them, and screen people in or out. Most organizations do want to treat people well in the interview process, and maintain a positive employer brand, all minimizing interaction at early stages as much as possible.
However – if you want the job, dispense with protocol, and don't wait for potential employers to call or email you. Rather, make it easy for an employer to hire you, communicate with you, and assess your interest by proactively sharing that with them. People expect job search communication to include taking turns. But most job search activity is not conducted like a tennis match where the applicant lobs a great resume over the net, and the recruiter makes the return shot by calling back to schedule an interview. The most effective applicants realize they are playing both sides of the net. At the risk of being “pesky”, candidates send resumes, call and confirm receipt, email to affirm their interest, and get a network contact to help them arrange a meeting.
If a candidate has a phone interview, protocol says they should get a call to let them know their status, but a stronger candidate will close the call by asking when the next conversation will be, and arranging a time to follow up. If the call doesn’t happen, the candidate will follow up by phone and email, without pointing out they haven’t received the call they were expecting.
After an in person meeting, candidates send a thank you, and expect to hear what the next steps will be, so they wait for the company representative to take his/her turn. The stronger candidate knows it’s still the candidates turn, and follows up to determine next steps and time frame. They show their eagerness to help move this large project forward. When there is no response from the company, another note or message follows with the same degree of enthusiasm that each and every call will have.
Smart candidates recognize that there are other demands hiring managers face, and in the most positive way keep their candidacy top of mind. Make it easy to get the invite back in. Don’t stand on protocol; play both sides of the net .
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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 Senior Vice President and Partner 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.