“Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
I’m not sure anyone but the most insensitive recruiter would ever actually say those exact words to someone, but we all certainly think them from time to time, don’t we? We spend our advertising dollars trying to get as many prospects as possible into our databases so we can cherry-pick them for our clients, knowing all the while that many, if not the majority, won’t make it in front of our desks, much less onto payroll. We want our prospects gift-wrapped, with nice bows on top, and, callous as this may sound, because of time constraints we generally don’t want to hear from them unless they are a match for a job we have.
But the job seekers we don’t call back do want to know something, something that can be summed up in five simple words…
“Why won’t you call me?”
It’s the cry of jilted, love-struck teenagers and twenty-somethings everywhere, except there’s more at stake because when you need a job, nothing else matters. We feel for them, we really do, but if we don’t make our clients happy we won’t have a job ourselves. So, what’s the answer?
In a perfect world we could talk to everyone, let everyone know exactly what is on our minds. In a perfect world people would be able to take our feedback and improve for the next opportunity. But, sadly, it’s not a perfect world. While we try to help when and whom we can, for a variety of reasons we simply aren’t able to give everyone the proper feedback they deserve – “You just aren’t a good fit for anything we have at this point,” or “Your background check came back with more dings than Lindsey Lohan,” or even, “Sorry Bud, you just straight-up creeped me out and I can’t do that to my clients.”
But, the good news is, although this article is directed at people in the staffing/recruiting industry, if you are a job-seeker you can read this and know if these are some areas you need to work on without us having to personally embarrass you or hurt your feelings. So, listen closely, because if any of these ‘types’ describe you, you can be dead-level sure that’s why we’re not calling you back.
Kids of ‘Helicopter Parents’
You know the type – teenage or twenty-something kid strolls into your office and plops in your interview chair. For a second you resolve to try to overlook his disheveled appearance, sad attempt at facial hair, and severe need of a haircut… until his mother peeks her head in, smiles awkwardly, then, without permission, comes on in and sits in the chair beside Johnny. (I suppose it’s your fault for having two interview chairs, but the office wouldn’t look symmetrical with just one.) Johnny takes a peek at his cell phone while Mom introduces herself to you, firm handshake and all. She then gives her little darling a glare that causes him to put away his phone and at least make an attempt at shaking your hand and introducing himself. You can barely hear his name, but thankfully you don’t have to ask twice with his resume (and his mother) right in front of you. You want to tell her to leave. You want to ask her if she will be coming along on Johnny’s job assignment to help him clock in, make widgets, and go to the bathroom, except that Johnny won’t ever be getting a job through you, so why bother. The sad part is it’s probably, ultimately, not his fault.
What’s that god-awful high-pitched screeching noise coming from the lobby all of a sudden? For a second you think a wild hyena snuck out of the zoo and into the office but no, it’s your next interview’s two-year-old, who, during Mommy’s interview, only stops shrieking long enough to clear a toddler-arm’s length of space around the entire circumference (and I do mean entire circumference) of your desk. Needless to say, this interview goes along as quickly as humanly possible. Besides, you need to get them out before Little Precious discovers your chocolate stash and it gets ugly.
Now, please don't get me wrong—as a father of four little ones myself, I'm sympathetic to the plight of parents with children who need to work and the abundance or absence of children isn't a question we would ever ask or take into account in our hiring decision. If absolutely no alternative is available (and yes, there truly may be no other alternative), it's certainly better to bring your children into the office than to leave them in the car! However, the necessity of bringing small children along on your interview does beg the question - if you can't arrange enough childcare for a half-hour long interview to land a job, how in the world, at least in a county where child-labor has been abolished, are you supposed to manage to actually work a job yourself? There are answers to that question, of course, but you should probably consider answering it because we probably won't ask.
Finally, one that doesn’t involve bringing other people to job interviews! This one, we’ll call him John, interviews OK, talks a pretty good game, even has a reference or two that checks out. He seems friendly and capable enough. You place his file to the side of your desk (Little Precious has already cleared a space for it), fully intending to place him after you’ve finished your other appointments. You get through another interview or two and your phone buzzes – it’s the receptionist telling you that John is on the phone. When you pick up, he asks you if you’ve ‘found anything for him yet.’
“No,” you say, “It’s been five minutes. I do have a few things in mind so hang tight and I’ll get back to you.” It’s odd, but you don’t think much else of it until that afternoon, when John calls back again. Slightly annoyed, you have him sent to voicemail, where he leaves a message asking you the same question he asked two hours earlier. The next morning, John is at the door before the office opens, asking to speak with you. Whether you speak with John or not (some staffers will, some won’t), he has, at that point, crossed the line from eager-beaver to stalker, and has probably crossed his own name off of your list. It’s a shame, because you really do have job orders to fill and you could’ve used him.
“Why won’t you call me?” It’s a question everyone who doesn’t get called wants to know the answer to. There are probably dozens more examples, but these three are as good a place to start as any. Avoid them and maybe, just maybe, we will call you!