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How Do You Cope with Employer Mistakes in Your Job Search

Posted by Patra Frame

Lately there have been a spate of blog posts and articles on common job search mistakes. A quick search will show you lots of good lists. And yes, otherwise smart people make some silly, even stupid mistakes…but so do employers. How do you cope with employer mistakes?

1. You submit a resume following the employer’s instructions and hear nothing.

The dirty little secret of most employers is their applicant tracking systems (ATS) which is where your resume goes when you submit it as directed. You might be a great candidate. But if the job specs are even slightly differently stated, the ATS only knows what is programmed in — and your resume will never come to light. So yes, do use the current keywords of your field.

But also work your networks for a contact at the employer. Get yourself an introduction. Best is to find someone in the department you want to work in, but any employee can be a good way to learn more. Build a connection with that person. Then ask for their help in getting an introduction to the appropriate hiring manager. Ask them to assist you in referring your resume to the best matches. It’s your career – are you going to let an app stop you?

2. ‘We’ll get back to you in two weeks.”

OK, so the person you talked to was on auto-pilot. And they maybe really hoped to do so. But you have not heard. And you really are interested.

Don’t be shy.

If it has been 3-4 days beyond the timeframe discussed, pick up the phone and call! You did get their phone number and email address, didn’t you? Be positive. Be prepared to leave a smart message, recruiters and hiring managers aren’t sitting by their phones. You want to:

  • Remind them of your name and the position you discussed
  • Say you understand that there has been a delay but you are very interested and following up
  • Ask if there is any additional information they need from you
  • Thank them for their time

You can do this a second time if you do not get a response. Or your second contact can be by email. Don’t turn into a stalker, but do realize that recruiters and hiring managers have a lot going on, and stuff happens. Keep it positive, keep it professional – and it will be seen as that valuable attribute: persistence. Plus you might just get a great job!

3. The application and hiring process takes forever, some people are not very professional, or you keep getting delays or added steps.

Most organizations’ hiring process is a good window into the way the place actually works. Obviously, one stupid mistake – a distracted interviewer, a long wait at an appointment, even an illegal question – is not the reason to drop the employer from your target list. And a poor process in a small firm is not the same level of ‘red flag’ it is in a large firm.

But a pattern of issues becomes a good reason to re-evaluate. Don’t let your desire for a job or for that particular employer blind you.

Stop and think about the process so far – what does it tell you about the organization? How does it match up to what you learned in your research? Does it indicate a culture that will help you succeed or make your work far more difficult?

4. The hiring manager said you were a great candidate and he wanted to hire you but then….nothing.

Talk is cheap. Sadly, too many hiring managers say this to nearly every candidate. And sometimes we ‘hear’ more than what was actually said.

Don’t count on a job offer until you actually receive one, with all the details.

What you should do:

Remember to restate a couple of relevant top qualifications in your thank you notes.

Follow-up after one-two weeks if you have not heard anything – see the telephone conversation outline in #2 above for ‘how-to’.

Keep your active job search going until you have an offer letter, have accepted the job, AND have started it!

Still need some ideas on common job-search mistakes?

This entry was posted on Monday, August 01, 2011 9:04 am

3 thoughts on “How Do You Cope with Employer Mistakes in Your Job Search”

  1. I have found that process large companies use is completely broken. SAIC is certainly the worst- they never, ever, get back to you even if you follow up with phone calls. Raytheon has a ATS which is a mess and if you are blessed enough to speak with someone there, they will freely admit it.

    The best bet is look for the subcontractors, the SBIRs, and the little guys- they will at least get back to you.

  2. I have found that many of the larger employers have many of the better opportunities in the market today. Most are the prime contractors on projects so they have more hiring needs than their subs. SAIC and Raytheon are two of the companies I have found to be responsive to my job submissions. I am sure that they have their process issues like many large companies, but I haven’t found a perfect company yet. A positive attitude in the job search has gotten me some really great contracting positions.

  3. Thank you both for your commentary on the recruiting process at SAIC. We certainly value your feedback, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative, and take it seriously. We just implemented a new Talent Community tool that makes it easy for you to stay updated on new job openings. We’re in the process of also implementing a new Applicant Tracking System that will also improve the recruiting process for candidates. If you’d like to join our Talent Community please visit http://jobs.saic.com/talentcommunity/subscribe/. Thanks again for your feedback.

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