Open Letter To Hiring Managers

June 23rd, 2017

Hi… candidate here.

Thanks for the opportunity to apply to a job at your company. And thanks for the invitation to interview with you. And thanks for the second invitation to interview with your team.  It was really quite fun… much more fun than applying to more jobs and not hearing back at all.  It was fun to talk about my skills, projects, background, experience, and be back in my comfort zone. It was fun to talk to professionals who have jobs and salaries and benefits and feel comfortable with their professional life.  It was fun to talk shop and feel like I could stay up with the conversation, even contribute.

I do have something I’d like to share with you, though. Some of the questions you asked were clearly based on some unfounded assumptions about me. I addressed those questions but I could tell from your body language that you already had created your own answer for me, and no matter what my answer was, you had already made judgement about me that I wasn’t going to be able to get around.

The whole process started to feel fake.  Why did you even bring me in? Why let me get this far?

The icing on the cake was the generic, soulless, impersonal “we’ve decided to go with someone else. We’ll keep your resume in our file…” rejection letter.

All the smiles, the warmth, the personal touch, and then BAM! Did I become the enemy?  Why go from personal and happy-to-see-me to “Ciao Prisoner two-four-six-oh-one!”?

I thought that perhaps we could have had a friendly, professional relationship. No, not BFFs. I’m not going to harass you, ask you to lunch too often, or even email you much. But if we met up at a networking meeting, I would come say hi and see how things are going. If I heard of something that would benefit you, I would want to share it with you. But that last goodbye showed me that really, I was just a number to you. None of the smiley stuff meant anything. You stopped caring about me, even though I was good enough to make it through a few interviews, once you picked one person (who will probably not be on your team in two years).

Oh well. I guess that’s the game. Pretend we are great buddies during this interview process, but if it doesn’t work out, then there’s an uncomfortable silent agreement between you and I that no, I’m not allowed to communicate with you. I certainly can’t ask you for feedback, which you won’t give.  I have to figure out that I, as a professional, just have to suck it up, pretend it never happened, and put on my best smile for the next interview. Fake, yes, but that’s the game. These are the rules you set up. And it sucks to be on this side.

I hope that when (not if) you are on this side you can see how stupid the rules are, and next time you are hiring, you can be humane and treat your “candidates” with dignity, even if you don’t choose to hire them.

I’m back to the search… signing off,

The Unchosen Candidate

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3 responses to “Open Letter To Hiring Managers”

  1. Darlene says:

    Formally, the author of Interview Chatter…AWESOME letter! I wonder how many organizations would change their approach to how candidates are handled if we used this open letter.

    In the day and age we seem to live in, probably most organizations would be unmoved. They would do nothing different. Especially given that it is an employee market right now. As challenging as it is to get a job these days, there are more jobs out there to be had. The challenge is working through the impersonal hiring process we established back when we moved from paper to the internet and web processing of applicants.

    Hiring managers are inundated with hundreds of resumes and applications. Navigating through them to find the right candidate can be overwhelming. We have lost the personal touch. How do we go back and recoup that personal touch? I am not sure we can.

    For candidates, your best bet is to keep your pipeline of potential opportunities open. Give yourself options so that when someone does say YES, it is more than one someone extending an offer. You are therefore in the drivers seat and you can make a decision about who you really want to work for. Every time you get an opportunity to sit in front of the “economic buyer” –
    the hiring manager, you must be about the business of differentiating yourself from the other candidates so that on the short list of candidates, they call you first and you get the offer.

  2. Vickey says:

    Oh, Jason, you nailed it!

    I had a half-day interview last week. They even asked me to stay an extra 45 minutes so they could speak longer with me. I felt really good about the connections I had made with the interviewers. I got up the next morning and composed 9 hand-written thank-you notes, and rushed them to the post office. I get back from the post office, open my email, and Bam! “We’ve decided to go with someone else”.

    Why did they bother to interview me? If I didn’t have the skills they were looking for, why didn’t they realize that when they read my resume? Or did they even read it?

    Never in a million years did I ever dream that finding a job would be this difficult.

  3. Jason Alba says:

    @Darlene, thanks for your comment. I agree with everything you wrote. The thing is, with my letter, I’m not talking about a hiring manager keeping in touch with the dozens or hundreds… but if you call me in for a second interview, I think it’s only right that perhaps we can be civil if you don’t choose me.

    @Vickey, that is a yucky feeling. I remember that from about eleven years ago… I knew I had the job, I even dreamed about my first day on the job, and made plans for what I would do while there to make an impact. Then, got a heartless generic email saying they chose someone else. My mind had gotten ahead of me, and it was one of the lowest points in my job search.

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