Unhappy man holding three heavy suitcases in hand. Travel light.

Over the course of three posts, we’re exposing three disturbing trends you need to know about if you’re thinking about a job search. Our first post covers Scams–Fake jobs, phony postings and false promises, all offering you nothing for something. (“Welcome to the Job Search Follies: Starring Scam, Sham & Scram”). The second post features Shams–real jobs that are posted but that you have no hope of landing. (“Job Search Follies, Part 2: Sham: Now you see it, now you don’t”) Today’s star, Scrams, is a reminder that in terms of your job search, no news is bad news.

You did it! You finally landed an interview! Your motto is Be Prepared, so you reviewed all your accomplishment stories, practiced the sound bites in your elevator speech and crafted answers to “tough” interview questions. Armed and dangerous, you enter the interview arena.

The first event is Screening–a brief call with the internal or external Recruiter. If you pass muster, you move on to event #2, the HR interview, usually over Zoom. So far so good! You are scheduled for an in-person interview with the Hiring Manager and that goes well. Oh joy, oh rapture! Now for a series of meeting with the HM’s boss and some member of the team. HR reaches out about compensation and start date. You are so close, you can taste it! Then…

Crickets.

They said they’d get back to you “soon” but does that mean hours, days or weeks? You reach out, “just checking in” and get back nothing. Nada, Zip.

Now you’re confused. You got right up to the finish line, but then it evaporated. What gives?

Welcome to the Scram, the (unspoken) message of “Please go away” you’re supposed to magically infer from silence. You reach out to HR and get one of 3 responses:

  1. The Let Down call: This is a “sincere” and regretful call from the Recruiter/HR that conveys the message “So sorry! Clearly, you’re qualified. As a matter of fact, you’re overqualified. We wish you well.” Why would an organization keep a candidate who’s got more than what they’re looking for on the line, only to blow them off at the last minute? Wouldn’t it make sense to hire for talent ready for development? In theory, yes. In practice, hiring is time consuming and expensive. If an organization hires you when you are clearly overqualified, what’s the (mostly correct) assumption? That you’ll leave as soon as something more suitable comes along.
  2. Other than dumbing down your resume (depressing), not much you can do about this. Very, very rarely have I seen a candidate convince the organization to hire them by offering to sign an employment contract with stiff penalties including the commitment to develop a subordinate for an eventual move into the role so the candidate can make a higher level of contribution. It may be worth a shot, but it takes vison on the part of the organization.

  3. The Kiss-off Email: Less personal than a call, this usually terse missive conveys the decision and reason.; “Thank you for your interest, but we’re moving ahead with other candidates/putting the search on hold/promoting an internal candidate (see the “HBR Tip recommending this approach to Hiring Managers”). Sometimes it’s “continuing to make do with the AH currently in the role because he’s the CEO’s brother-in-law” but hey, we won’t say that part out loud.”
  4. It’s worth keeping an eye on these situations, because things can change. This is where the counter intuitive, ”Thank you for rejecting me,” note can come in handy. Being a gracious loser leaves the door open should things not work out with whatever DF they do hire. Even if that hire sticks, you can see where the successful candidate came from, as that represents a potential vacancy you might be able to fill.

  5. The Ghosting: Ghosting is defined as “abruptly ending communication with someone without explanation.” While the concept arose with respect to romantic relationships, it can also describe disappearances in the job search. Why would an employer do this? Usually, it’s indicative of a SNAFU in the hiring process, one so prolonged and messy that the Recruiter just gives up and backs slowly out of the room. Fine for them, but you’re left with nothing and no recourse. “Anyone? Bueller?”
  6. This is not a purposeful strategy dreamed up by sadistic Recruiters or evil HR reps. Bottom line– everyone who is working is overemployed, too busy to get their jobs done, and when you’re that tired and fed up, sometimes it’s just easier to say nothing and hope the candidate Just Goes Away.

So how do you deal with these 3 forms of “Scram”? Notice the pre-condition for all of them: you are just a applicant, not a real person in this equation. Blowing you off, writing you off, ghosting you is easy because you don’t matter to anyone. You are candidate fodder, not anyone of consequence. Your only resource is to Stop Playing Their Game.

Imagine this alternate scenario: you have been referred to the Recruiter by some senior member of the organization. They’ve been told to make sure your application floats to the top and that you get scheduled directly for an interview with the decision maker. If the referral in comes from the CWO (Chief Whatever Officer), HR is not going to toss you aside, nor is the Hiring Manager. Your candidacy will receive the full attention of everyone in the hiring chain.

If for some reason, you are not the Chosen One, you will receive personal communication, useful feedback, and due consideration for other opportunities as they arise–often before they’re posted. From the one who referred you, you may also get additional referrals and introductions to other decision makers because you matter. So stop lining up at the front door along with everyone else. Find a way into the kitchen and your chances of being hired improve 3-fold. LinkedIn career columnist J.T. O’Donnell calls it “back-channeling.” “Why Applying Online Is a Waste of Time (And How Backchanneling Can Help)”. Remember: 75% of all hires are a direct result of or influenced by a personal connection.

Oh no–not Networking again?! Yup. Networking is not only where the jobs are, it’s also where the good jobs are. After all, why go though the whole rigmarole if you can identify the best candidate from your own pool of contacts or those recommended by someone you trust? Is this “fair?” Not in the least, but it’s how hiring happens so make the stats work for you and avoid the song and dance. If you need help, we’re here.



Schedule time with me!

Day Merrill

Day Merrill

2BDetermined Partner Day Merrill

Day Merrill, M.A.
Founder & Principal
2BDetermined Inc.
Office: 416.725.2947
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Unhappy man holding three heavy suitcases in hand. Travel light.

Over the course of three posts, we’re exposing three disturbing trends you need to know about if you’re thinking about a job search. Our first post covers Scams–Fake jobs, phony postings and false promises, all offering you nothing for something. (“Welcome to the Job Search Follies: Starring Scam, Sham & Scram”). The second post features Shams–real jobs that are posted but that you have no hope of landing. (“Job Search Follies, Part 2: Sham: Now you see it, now you don’t”) Today’s star, Scrams, is a reminder that in terms of your job search, no news is bad news.

You did it! You finally landed an interview! Your motto is Be Prepared, so you reviewed all your accomplishment stories, practiced the sound bites in your elevator speech and crafted answers to “tough” interview questions. Armed and dangerous, you enter the interview arena.

The first event is Screening–a brief call with the internal or external Recruiter. If you pass muster, you move on to event #2, the HR interview, usually over Zoom. So far so good! You are scheduled for an in-person interview with the Hiring Manager and that goes well. Oh joy, oh rapture! Now for a series of meeting with the HM’s boss and some member of the team. HR reaches out about compensation and start date. You are so close, you can taste it! Then…

Crickets.

They said they’d get back to you “soon” but does that mean hours, days or weeks? You reach out, “just checking in” and get back nothing. Nada, Zip.

Now you’re confused. You got right up to the finish line, but then it evaporated. What gives?

Welcome to the Scram, the (unspoken) message of “Please go away” you’re supposed to magically infer from silence. You reach out to HR and get one of 3 responses:

  1. The Let Down call: This is a “sincere” and regretful call from the Recruiter/HR that conveys the message “So sorry! Clearly, you’re qualified. As a matter of fact, you’re overqualified. We wish you well.” Why would an organization keep a candidate who’s got more than what they’re looking for on the line, only to blow them off at the last minute? Wouldn’t it make sense to hire for talent ready for development? In theory, yes. In practice, hiring is time consuming and expensive. If an organization hires you when you are clearly overqualified, what’s the (mostly correct) assumption? That you’ll leave as soon as something more suitable comes along.
  2. Other than dumbing down your resume (depressing), not much you can do about this. Very, very rarely have I seen a candidate convince the organization to hire them by offering to sign an employment contract with stiff penalties including the commitment to develop a subordinate for an eventual move into the role so the candidate can make a higher level of contribution. It may be worth a shot, but it takes vison on the part of the organization.

  3. The Kiss-off Email: Less personal than a call, this usually terse missive conveys the decision and reason.; “Thank you for your interest, but we’re moving ahead with other candidates/putting the search on hold/promoting an internal candidate (see the “HBR Tip recommending this approach to Hiring Managers”). Sometimes it’s “continuing to make do with the AH currently in the role because he’s the CEO’s brother-in-law” but hey, we won’t say that part out loud.”
  4. It’s worth keeping an eye on these situations, because things can change. This is where the counter intuitive, ”Thank you for rejecting me,” note can come in handy. Being a gracious loser leaves the door open should things not work out with whatever DF they do hire. Even if that hire sticks, you can see where the successful candidate came from, as that represents a potential vacancy you might be able to fill.

  5. The Ghosting: Ghosting is defined as “abruptly ending communication with someone without explanation.” While the concept arose with respect to romantic relationships, it can also describe disappearances in the job search. Why would an employer do this? Usually, it’s indicative of a SNAFU in the hiring process, one so prolonged and messy that the Recruiter just gives up and backs slowly out of the room. Fine for them, but you’re left with nothing and no recourse. “Anyone? Bueller?”
  6. This is not a purposeful strategy dreamed up by sadistic Recruiters or evil HR reps. Bottom line– everyone who is working is overemployed, too busy to get their jobs done, and when you’re that tired and fed up, sometimes it’s just easier to say nothing and hope the candidate Just Goes Away.

So how do you deal with these 3 forms of “Scram”? Notice the pre-condition for all of them: you are just a applicant, not a real person in this equation. Blowing you off, writing you off, ghosting you is easy because you don’t matter to anyone. You are candidate fodder, not anyone of consequence. Your only resource is to Stop Playing Their Game.

Imagine this alternate scenario: you have been referred to the Recruiter by some senior member of the organization. They’ve been told to make sure your application floats to the top and that you get scheduled directly for an interview with the decision maker. If the referral in comes from the CWO (Chief Whatever Officer), HR is not going to toss you aside, nor is the Hiring Manager. Your candidacy will receive the full attention of everyone in the hiring chain.

If for some reason, you are not the Chosen One, you will receive personal communication, useful feedback, and due consideration for other opportunities as they arise–often before they’re posted. From the one who referred you, you may also get additional referrals and introductions to other decision makers because you matter. So stop lining up at the front door along with everyone else. Find a way into the kitchen and your chances of being hired improve 3-fold. LinkedIn career columnist J.T. O’Donnell calls it “back-channeling.” “Why Applying Online Is a Waste of Time (And How Backchanneling Can Help)”. Remember: 75% of all hires are a direct result of or influenced by a personal connection.

Oh no–not Networking again?! Yup. Networking is not only where the jobs are, it’s also where the good jobs are. After all, why go though the whole rigmarole if you can identify the best candidate from your own pool of contacts or those recommended by someone you trust? Is this “fair?” Not in the least, but it’s how hiring happens so make the stats work for you and avoid the song and dance. If you need help, we’re here.



Schedule time with me!