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Ask the Headhunter: Why employers can afford to be rude to you

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Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


Question: I applied for a position in May. I had one phone interview and two interviews in person over the summer. The employer sounded eager and acted like they wanted to hire me on the spot. It’s a very good job for me. The position was removed from the job boards, and during the Independence Day holiday I learned my references were called. They even sent me benefits info.

Since then, no word at all. I emailed and called the recruiting assistant to see if there was anything else I could provide since he was my main point of contact. I got no response even after he returned from vacation. Then I called the director to whom the position would report, who said in a quick call that it’s taking longer than expected and that they need more time. I told him okay, but it’s weird that he gave me no timeframe to follow up. That was almost a month ago, and two months since my references were called.

I’m still interviewing for other jobs. I know nothing is final until the offer letter, and that HR can be very flakey, but this takes the cake. Your thoughts? Thanks!

Nick Corcodilos: One of the most important things I’ve learned from readers after all these years is that, no matter how much a person thinks they’re a good fit for a job or how much they want it, control rests with the employer.

READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: 5 tips for avoiding terrible employers

Here’s what else I’ve learned: Employers are terrible at interviewing and hiring. They drop the ball. They delay.

They tell you how much they want you. Then they delay some more. Most of the time, you never hear from them again.

Please read this carefully: Most job opportunities go south. Every job seeker must bear this in mind while managing their job search. Don’t fall prey to wishful thinking. Don’t stop looking for other jobs while you wait for one employer who sounds eager and says they’re ready to hire you.

While I understand the vicissitudes of business, and that situations and employers’ needs change, there is no excuse for the abject rudeness and unprofessionalism of employers, managers and HR departments. (See ”Rude Employers: Slam-bam-thank-you-mam.”)

Consider the rules of engagement that HR managers and career advisors drill into job seekers’ heads:

  • Be polite.
  • Be professional.
  • Be patient.
  • Be forthcoming.
  • Act responsibly.
  • Be respectful.

But the same rules and standards apply to employers. What you’re seeing is not just a delay. It’s an ill-mannered company with a double standard. (How would employers react if the shoe were on the other foot? See “Why employers should pay to interview you.”)

When an employer disrespects you like this, don’t make excuses for them or wonder what’s up. It’s obvious. They don’t care about you or about how they portray themselves. Imagine how they treat their customers and how that bodes for you if you were to take a job there.

How can employers afford to be so rude to you when they’re trying to fill jobs? It’s simple. The employment system — job boards, applicant tracking systems, LinkedIn — has convinced employers there are plenty of candidates available all the time. That is, job applicants are free, so why waste time being nice to them? Why rush to fill a job when there’s a better candidate out there for a lower salary?

READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: What can I do after my job offer was rescinded?

The best thing to do is forget about this company and “opportunity” and move on. If they ever come back to you, I’d make them jump through one or two hoops before re-engaging with them. Make them prove themselves just as they expect job applicants to prove themselves.

Don’t let yourself believe this kind of behavior is excusable. It’s not.

When you encounter a company that does this right, you’ll know it immediately. That’s who to focus your attention on.

Dear Readers: Is this type of employer behavior normal? Is it defensible? How long do you give a company to make a hiring decision? What’s the worst you’ve seen from employers that enthusiastically pursue then ignore job candidates? What’s the best? How would you advise this job applicant?


Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

Copyright © 2016 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

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