Employers you need to give a damn!

Employers give a damnI recently had the experience where I applied for a few interesting casual roles to supplement my work as a career coach.  I followed my usual advice of tailoring cover letters and resumes to ‘fit’ the roles and for one role actually called the person mentioned in the advertisement three times (twice leaving a brief voicemail) and sending a LinkedIn inMail with no response. A month has gone by and I can assume that their silence and lack of response means they are not interested in my candidature (despite being a good fit for what they were after).

Outside of my own personal experience with ‘rejection by silence’ I literally hear the same thing from my clients most days of the week.  They apply for a job, call a contact or follow up with someone only to be met with the sounds of silence. My usual advice is that ‘this is part of the frustrations of job search’ and that ‘during job search you develop a thick skin’…But should it be so? Absolutely not!

I’m not between jobs but yet I was still taken aback at the lack of professionalism and basic human courtesy to respond to my applications. I had taken the time and effort to express interest in their organisations, so surely there should be some reciprocation? Rather, there was a conscious decision to ignore me and others who apparently did not meet their requirements. Even more so as someone who’s unemployed, putting myself ‘out there’ to say ‘Mr Employer, you and your role sound really interesting and I have some great skills that I believe could be of use to you.  Here are my details and I look forward to hearing back.’ Silence, nothing, nada, zippo, cue the sounds of crickets chirping in the background…‘Rejection by silence’.  What you are saying, even if not intentional, is that you don’t recognise me or my background…I am knocking on your door and you ignore me. Can I ask  that if a potential customer reached out to you, would you also ignore them? Of course not and I may well be a potential customer one day! Based on one less than satisfactory experience with you, it’s understandable that I may take my business elsewhere.

Let’s call a spade a spade…Lack of response to job applicants is a poor reflection of you and your organisation and if you don’t have a system to manage unsuccessful job applicants appropriately, you should.

I would argue that it does not take much effort to return a phone call or to generate some sort of form email, automated response or text message that is sent to unsuccessful candidates. Yes, we’ll be disappointed we missed out on your job, but at least we’ve been told where we stand and can focus on other opportunities. In fact, such a response would be a novelty and would serve you and your organisational brand well. I knocked on your door, you answered, explained politely you were not interested and I continued down the street…Thank you!

Practically I get that corporate types are busy and time poor. I was one for 27 years.  I also recognise that many of these folks simply see job applicants as ‘strangers’ or one more resume on the pile.  What I reflect on though is that many of us charged with hiring staff have been through job loss and understand the heightened emotions experienced during this time. You would think this would be leverage enough to ensure the same sins are not repeated? Apparently not. To be blithely ignored despite our best efforts to make contact with someone during job search can be soul-destroying if it happens often enough.

So, Mr and Mrs Employer, give a damn to those of us applying to your fine organisations!  Let us know when we have failed to ‘make the cut’ in a timely manner but even better, let us know you’d like to meet us for an interview. We’d be happy to chat…

Have you had this experience during job search? I’d love to hear about it.

For any help with job search, see my website at www.thecareermedic.com or contact me directly by clicking here.  You may also be interested in my book, ‘Fired to Hired, The Guide to Effective Job Search for the Over 40s’ which was recently published and is full of practical, no-nonsense job search tips for mature workers.  You can purchase the book from this link  or directly from Amazon or Booktopia among others.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s


Reference checks that work

The following is an excerpt from my new book, ‘Fired to Hired, The Guide to Effective Job Search for the Over 40s’ which is currently available on Amazon, Booktopia and Fishpond among others.  ‘Fired to Hired’ is an easy-to-read, no-nonsense and practical guide to job search, written by someone who understands job loss and subsequent search.

Post-interview reference checks (Chapter 19, pages 160 – 162)

Reference checks are designed to provide interviewers with additional information about the candidate in order to make a hiring decision. Most references these days are obtained over the phone; however, it’s not uncommon for organisations to conduct reference checks via email where the referee is interstate or overseas in a different, and inconvenient, time zone.

As a rule of thumb, the best referees are individuals you have worked with or known within the last five to eight years. Currency of information is critical in evaluating candidates. Referees usually come from the following categories:

  • Managers you have worked for
  • Stakeholders within the business you have worked with or supported
  • Employees who have worked for you
  • Vendors, suppliers or customers outside the company you have had dealings with (especially if your job entails significant liaison with such groups)

It’s very important to note that you should ask for your referees’ permission to use them as referees at the beginning of your job search. You can lock them in later when you need their assistance for a specific reference check, but be sure to contact your referees before the recruiter or hiring organisation contacts them. Once you have established that a referee will speak on your behalf, ask them to let you know when the reference check occurs.

Given the opportunity to act as referees, some people like to string you along a little when providing feedback, but saying something like ‘I told them what a ratbag you are and not to employ you in a million years’ is not at all helpful. Once they are over channeling their inner comedian, hopefully they will give you a quick rundown on the questions asked, and any particular intelligence or feedback they gathered from the discussion.

While rare, during my early HR days I did have a couple of instances where the referee was surprised by my call and had not been approached by the candidate to act as a referee on their behalf. Needless to say, such oversights don’t reflect well on the candidate and any inference can only be negative. When you do contact your referees, take the time to tell them about the role you have applied for. This will give them the context they need when the hiring organisation contacts them.

Ensure your referee shares some key information or points you would like them to convey. If the job you have applied for has a high requirement for effective stakeholder management, make sure your referee mentions this in the reference check and perhaps details a specific situation where you did well. There might not be a specific question on this topic, but there could be a catchall question at the end of the reference check asking if there is anything else they would like to mention about the applicant’s suitability for the role. If you have prepared your referee well, this will assure the hiring company that they have covered everything, they will volunteer further information that could be enough to get you across the line when it comes to comparing candidates and deciding who gets the job.

When organisations ask for referees, they don’t usually specify who they would like to speak to, but will generally ask for someone you’ve worked for, which means that you can offer referees on your terms. If you’ve worked for someone that you don’t feel would represent your interests in applying for another job appropriately, don’t put their name forward. Most people have experienced working for someone with a manager’s title who may not provide a ringing endorsement of their professional background. You want to put forward someone who will speak highly of you in relation to the job you are applying for, and confirm that you’re a good match for the required skills, knowledge and experience.

Thanks for reading about reference checks!  If you liked this information, there are many more tips and hints on effective job search for mature job seekers in the book.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s


Don’t just sit there, say something!


During a recent discussion with an experienced recruiter, she explained to me that she often experiences an unusual occurrence when fielding calls for advertised roles…

The issue is that many of those who call, simply call and say something like: “Hi, My name is Paul and I am calling about the job…”.  Then silence.  Yes, silence!  Presumably, the individual calling about the job then wants the recruiter to explain more about the job while they sit back and take it easy. Needless to say, such poor introductions don’t get these applicants very far…

A much better strategy is as follows:

  1. Preparation – What are you going to say?  What questions do you want to ask?  Spend a few minutes jotting down some notes about the things you want to cover during the call.
  2. Make the call and when answered, introduce yourself by saying something like: “Good morning David, my name is Paul and I am calling about the XYZ job.  Do you have a few minutes for me to introduce myself and to ask a few questions?”
  3. Give an effective overview of who you are and what value you bring.  For example, “I am a (position/title), with experience in (industries/companies).  I have expertise in (your vocational or professional skills/strengths) and my strengths (your broad leadership or employee strengths) are…”
  4. Ask your questions and take note of the responses.
  5. Thank the individual for their time and if appropriate express your interest in the role and finish by repeating your name and saying goodbye.

Don’t be surprised that if you do this well enough, the recruiter may even extend the discussion because you have piqued their interest or even invite you in for an interview.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely!

For all your career and job search advice, contact The Career Medic by clicking here.