Education Career Services

January 15, 2009

Students Prepare! Potential Employers Don’t Always Play Nice

Filed under: Career Cafe — EducationCS @ 7:54 pm
Tags: ,

Searching for a job is one of the most stressful events all have the pleasure in experiencing.  If only there was a way to make the memory even more traumatic—oh wait, there is…


In a time of extreme career competition, it has become obvious employers don’t always play nice.  As a matter of fact, according to “WEDDLE’s” Research (scheduled to be presented this month), many are downright rude.


In summary, the result of the survey question “What is the single worst thing that has happened to you in a job search?” is as follows:


·        45% – they submitted a resume and heard nothing back from the employerAntique telephone

·        24% – they received no information or feedback from the employer once they entered its recruiting process

·        19% – they had no serious negative experiences

·        07% – the hiring manager or recruiter who interviewed them was poorly prepared

·        05% – the hiring manager, recruiter, or an employee was rude or hostile to them during the process


While teaching college students, I held active (and oftentimes overly vocal) discussions regarding what to expect and what not to expect preceding and following résumé submissions.  Most students had no idea of proper protocol on the potential employer’s side.  The most common expectation from students was “I submit my résumé and will get a call within a few days to let me know I am scheduled for an interview or not scheduled for an interview.”  Was it my role to let the class know most employers don’t bother letting the candidate know they don’t match what they are looking for at this time?  


Is “push them out of the academic nest and let them fly on their own” the rule of the day?  If this is the modern approach, am I not as guilty in lowering the rudeness bar?  


What messages are employers sending students by saying nothing at all?  Is it professionally acceptable to ignore potential candidates in the hopes they simply will go away?  As a certified career coach, I receive complaints from both sides of the equation and now long to find answers.  Look at the percentages again, to me the most concerning figure is the 19% (those who had no serious negative experience).  Am I to believe four out of five DO engage in a serious negative experience?  If so, has it always been this way?


Now it’s time to ask ourselves, are students prepared to react professionally to the bad behavior they are about to encounter face to face?  In the tone of this article, I would love to hear your approach and a story or two directly related to potential employers and the encounter experienced.  Or, throw in a comment; remember saying nothing at all is considered rude in some circles.




  1. Danny,

    I have interviewed for numerous job listings and have come across the no call approach with many employers. What is a good way to approach an employer and ask if the position has been filled. Also, what is the time frame before the phone call can be made.

    I found this site to be very helpful in my job search. Keep them coming.


    Comment by Elaine — January 15, 2009 @ 11:25 pm

  2. Thanks for the questions and let me take each separately:

    1. An effective approach to ask an employer if a position has been filled has gone electronic! With Internet and e-mail communication taking over, most employers prefer questions of this capacity to be done electronically as opposed to the phone. Take the employers perspective for a moment, many do not want to be the bearer of uncomfortable news – an e-mail takes the person out of the equation. Sounds rather cold in a way but is the reality of the world—perhaps this explains why so many applications are ignored to begin with? For those wishing to call, oftentimes all you will receive is a voice message or a receptionist told not to direct calls to the hiring manager. What one does not want to do is become a stalker…refer to the interview blunders in our earlier blog segment for a real-life experience.
    2. The proper time frame between sending in an application and making direct contact can vary per circumstance. According to the top three career management associations in the US, it is recommended for the applicant to wait until the second day. In other words, do not call and e-mail the same day of your submission. You do not want to leave an impression of desperation and calling too soon can be construed as such.

    I appreciate your questions and look forward to more; remember, this is a forum for all to share and your questions do not have to be limited to the topic at hand. Just keep it career minded so we all can benefit.


    Comment by careersi — January 16, 2009 @ 12:02 am

  3. Danny,
    I have interviewed for several positions and have been in the same situation: unsure of when and how to contact the employer appropriately. I will apply your advice! I do have another question, though. How should I respond (and when) to an employer that has expressed interest in bringing me on but does not have a time frame for a potential start date? Maybe a better question is what does that really mean as far as my chances are concerned?

    Comment by Steve — January 16, 2009 @ 7:11 am

  4. Steve,
    Your question, “how should you respond and when to an employer that has expressed interest in bringing me on but does not have a time frame for a potential start date?” seems to have become more and more common over the past few months. This is also a tricky question where one answer does not fit all scenarios and sound judgment may be the best resolve.

    If an individual is given a verbal offer and acceptance, waiting in silence for more than three (3) business days is not generally acceptable. In most cases, once a verbal offer has been made, the request will go immediately to the human resources department to formalize any issues. This process typically will be completed within one business day and a hard copy offer will be placed in the mail immediately thereafter. If you have not received any information within these initial three days, I recommend placing a call to your hiring executive or to the human resources representative directly. Do not hound or panic at this time, it is not uncommon for the paperwork process to take up to a week. If, after a week, of silence, I suggest e-mailing the individual you interviewed with and ask for a status update. If silence continues, there is a possibility the position had been placed on hold and was left in the dark. Again, the key is not to stalk the company with too many calls or e-mails…common sense is the best sense.

    Regarding your chances of employment after a substantial amount of silence? Unfortunately, the longer the wait, the chances of you being the candidate of choice diminishes. Hate to be the bearer of such news but I am not here to sugar-coat answers. Ending on a positive note and personal note, upon accepting a teaching position, I waited three months until a formal contract was finally delivered.

    Thanks for the question and good luck!


    Comment by careersi — January 16, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

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