You wrap up an engaging interview at a company and come away feeling that this position would be a great fit for you. You have the impression that the hiring manager feels the same way about you. He walks you to the door, you shake hands, say goodbye…and you never hear from him again. Ever. Not only does he not call, he doesn’t respond to your follow-up calls or emails. You’ve been ghosted!
If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. Companies have been ghosting applicants for years, and it happens across many different industries. A recent survey by Recruiting Daily Advisor found that among applicants that have gotten ghosted, 23% were seeking jobs at business, finance and legal companies, and 22% were job seeking at advertising, marketing, PR and media companies. Many other industries also make the list, including healthcare, retail & hospitality, and tech.
Ghosting is a term that got its start in the world of dating
when one person suddenly quits returning the phone calls, emails or texts of
the other with no explanation because, you know, it’s too awkward to tell
someone that you’re just not that into them anymore. Instead you just pretend
that they don’t exist until they quit trying to contact you.
In the business world, the reasons behind getting ghosted are usually not so petty, but it’s equally painful – perhaps more so because, your ego notwithstanding, there are mouths to feed and bills to pay. How long should you hang in there waiting for signs of life?
Some people experience ghosting at the application stage. They
send a resume to company after company with no response. There are several
reasons for this:
First, maybe you’re not qualified for the job. According to Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer at The Barrett Group, the biggest mistake job candidates make is submitting an application that doesn’t have 100% of the “must have” job qualifications. It demonstrates two strikes against you: 1) You aren’t qualified, and 2) you didn’t follow instructions. In this case, applying is a waste of time.
If you are 100% qualified and your application still gets no traction, your resume might be to blame. Your resume should reflect ALL the job qualifications, and not just in the body of the resume, but also in the headline.
Most hiring managers handle huge numbers of resumes and only
read the top few lines of each one. If you’re applying to a position requiring “international
sales experience” and your resume headline reads “sales experience,” you won’t
get a response – even if your international experience is highlighted later.
At the same time, you should omit all skills outside the
scope of the job requirements. Many people include a laundry list of common
core competencies in their resumes, but this sometimes works against you.
Hiring managers might think you’re over-qualified, would become bored, or might
ask for too much money. It’s counter-intuitive, but if the requirement is for
20 years of managerial experience and you have 25 years of experience, write only
that you have 20 years of experience.
Lastly, if you’re applying as a stranger to a job posting, keep in mind that sometimes the job opportunities don’t actually exist. Companies often already have a #1 candidate in mind, perhaps through a referral or an internal promotion, but company policy requires that the job be posted publicly. If this seems unfair, don’t get mad; get a friend on the inside who can propel your candidacy.
How NOT to Get Ghosted
First and foremost is to avoid getting ghosted in the first place. How? By developing social ties and good communication.
Get on the Inside Track.
You should never apply as a total stranger to a company before exhausting all avenues to find a social connection. If you’re looking at $80K+ positions, you can be sure that the people who land these positions are not strangers to the company – they will have been recommended for the role. Find a friend to recommend you and you will have personal reputations and political clout to support you.
If that is easier said than done, don’t fret. Many successful professionals don’t know how to leverage networking to their advantage when they’re new to the job market. They’ve been on the giving, not the receiving, side of networking and may be out of practice with the slow, inconsistent process of building and expending social capital. But no one with 10-20 years of work experience, who has impacted people’s lives through hirings, promotions, and business deals, should have go into a job market cold. Always leverage your social capital first by asking your contacts how you might best proceed for a job.
Know Where You Stand.
When you’re in the screening process ask your counterpart (with a twinkle in your eye): “Do you think I’m a good fit for this opportunity?” Often, she will be honest and say, “Yes,” and tell you next steps. If the answer is “No,” it gives you the opportunity to offer more information about whatever reservations she might have.
As a general rule, the last item of discussion should always be a mutual agreement on next steps so you know the timeline for follow up communication. If they say, “We’ll get back to you by Monday,” and you don’t hear from them, wait one day and check in on Wednesday. If you haven’t nailed down a timeline, wait one week before reaching out to check in.
How to Handle Getting Ghosted at the Interview Stage
If you do get ghosted, there are several things you should keep in mind:
Be Patient and Courteous.
If you get no response to your check-in email, wait one week and call. If you get voice mail, leave your name, phone number and a short message saying, simply, that you’re checking in. Nothing more. DO NOT reference any other attempts to check in or offer reprobation about the lack of communication, lest it sound critical. Remember, this is the ONE person who can open a door for you. When all else fails, try to reach out to someone else at the company, preferably one with a social connection to you, who can advise you on how to proceed.
Don’t take it personally. The most common reasons applicants are ghosted by companies is simply bureaucracy or inefficiencies in the hiring process. Candidate selection processes are often handled by lower-tiered people who are overwhelmed or inexperienced. Sometimes decision-makers aren’t available for interviews during the given timeline. Confidential corporate changes might be underway that hiring managers are prohibited from communicating to applicants. Or maybe the hiring manager just got hit by a bus. In other words, it’s them, not you.
Don’t Give Up.
Resendes tells a story of a client who came to The Barrett Group for career coaching six months after being ghosted by a company. Although he felt like he was a perfect fit during the interviews, he got no response to inquiries about his applicant status. He grew discouraged and gave up. His career coach convinced him he had little to lose in following up again, so he called the company and was greeted with a surprising exclamation: “Thank God you’ve called! We wanted to hire you but misplaced our hiring files and didn’t know how to reach you!” The client swore that the coaching fee was the best money he’d ever spent because he would not have called the company again on his own. The takeaway: If you are running short of options, you have no reason to stop following up.
If schadenfreude is your thing, you’ll be interested to
learn that ghosting now cuts both ways. The incidence of job applicants blowing
off scheduled interviews or even accepting jobs only to fail to show up for
work without notice or further contact is on the rise. The trend has been
reported not only by professional social network, LinkedIn
and many news organizations, but also by the
Undoubtedly, the tight labor market makes it easier for job applicants to give companies a taste of their own medicine, but resist the temptation to do so.
Even if a better opportunity surfaces, it never pays to burn bridges. Keep to the moral high ground and hope that companies will learn their lesson about ghosting!
Many factors affect hiring and recruitment. Some are internal to an organization, such as organizational culture, or company product releases. Some are external to an organization, like economic trends. Seasonality is definitely important. Naturally, industry fluctuations play a big role, too.
When you look at the larger picture, it’s clear that what influences hiring and recruitment is often cyclical or evolves over time. The better you understand these factors, the better you can take advantage of them to set yourself up for a successful career change.
Obviously, the economy is the paramount influence when it comes to hiring. A strong economy means a good job market. With the unemployment rate currently at 3.6%, a 50-year low, we are seeing a uniquely advantageous time to be job hunting. However, the situation is even more interesting.
It’s clear from the most recent data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that many aspects of the job market are in ground-breaking territory – much of it good news to job seekers.
Since hitting a low in July 2009, job openings have rocketed past the pre-recession peak of 5 million in 2014 to 7.4 million at the end of April 2019. Hiring increases have been even more impressive, surpassing pre-recession levels and peaking at 5.9 million hires, a series high.
What’s particularly notable about these figures is this: For most of the JOLTS history the number of hires (measured throughout the month) has exceeded the number of job openings (measured only on the last business day of the month). Since January 2015, however, this relationship has reversed, with job openings consistently outnumbering hires.
In other words, there are a LOT of open jobs.
In April, there were 1.5 million more job openings than there were newly hired
people. In fact, there are now more jobs available than there are unemployed
people! The ratio of unemployed persons per job opening was 0.8 in April
according to JOLTS.
Clearly, in this market, the onus is on companies to act quickly lest they lose out on hiring the best talent.
What Industry is Hot and What’s Not?
There is an unsettling truth to keep in perspective if you’re looking to change careers: One reason why there are so many more open jobs than there are unemployed people is because there is a skills gap. Many open jobs are in technical fields requiring skills that too few job seekers have. If you are in a position to do so, you can’t go wrong by improving your technical skills. Technical fields and technical industries are perennially hot when it comes to hiring.
But other industries are growing, too. According to a monthly analysis by LinkedIn, the industries with the most notable hiring shifts in May were Corporate Services (7.6%), Wellness & Fitness (7.4% higher), and Software & IT Services (6.7% higher).
Year to year, employment in professional and business services, and health care continue to trend up. The chart shows the yearly change in the hiring rate in several industries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Wondering which industries to shy away from? Answer: Mining and Logging, and export-producing goods industries, like Agriculture and Manufacturing – all of which are facing significant downturns in hiring.
A Season for Change
The granddaddy of all hiring cycles is the calendar. While some industries buck the historical trends, there are definitive hiring seasons during the year. Understanding the trends will help you choose the optimal times of the year to pursue a career change.
For several reasons, a New Year means new jobs. Companies have new hiring budgets and sales forecasts to act on at this time. Recruitment managers are refreshed after a holiday vacation and eager to start filling newly created positions. Moreover, many workers resolve at this time of year to make a career change, which creates opportunities in newly vacated positions. For all these reasons, the January-February time-frame is the springboard of a hiring season that continues throughout the spring.
The 2nd Quarter is also a good time to job search, although the later you wait, the fewer job options you might have. The ranks of new hires towards the end of this quarter tend to be filled out by newly minted college graduates. But hiring for many industries peaks in the spring, especially Construction, Tourism and Hospitality. It’s also common to find, at this time, many hiring managers scrambling to fill open spots before the office empties for the summer months.
Not surprisingly, hiring surges for seasonal industries like Tourism, and Outdoor & Leisure are typical during the summer months. Education also sees a big boost, as school districts seek to replace non-returning teachers. Professional industries, however, tend to experience a hiring lull. To the extent that companies are hiring, the available jobs are more likely to be seasonal or lower-level positions. After all, it’s hard to set up interviews and streamline the hiring process when people are on vacation.
Back-to-school season is also a “back-to-work” season, with hiring bumping up again. Rejuvenated once again from their summer vacations, hiring managers are keen to fill available spots in their departments during September and October. They are often motivated by a “use it, or lose it” mentality because whatever funds might remain in their hiring budget at the end of the year will disappear. In November and December, however, hiring falls of a cliff. The glut of major holidays and depleted budgets puts hiring on hold for many industries.
The chart on the left tells the basic story of hiring during the year, but remember that not every industry falls neatly into this pattern.
Hiring in Retail, Warehousing, Transportation and Customer Service, for example, surges during the end-of-the-year holiday season.
Likewise, because January to April is peak business season for Tax and Accounting professionals, hiring in these industries tends to happen outside these busy months.
Regardless of the season, you should never be doing nothing if you’re a job seeker. Slow times are ideal times to be researching new options, developing new skills and, most importantly, networking.
All of these tasks take time and are incredibly important in positioning you to act quickly when the right opportunity presents itself.
If you are trying to figure out the best time to start a career change, familiarizing yourself with cycles and trends that influence hiring and recruitment is a useful place to start. But careers begin and end regardless of whatever economic trends, seasonal cycles, and industry changes are doing. So, when you’re trying to decide the best time to start your career change, the answer is NOW.
The most important influences on your recruitment by a future employer are the ones that you create for yourself.
That means that you should keep abreast of what is going on at your target companies, watch for news announcements that may identify an optimal time for you to make your move. Some hiring managers budget for positions early, so plan ahead and be prepared to send a resume at anytime.
The best time to get a new job is always whenever the right job comes along. The timing of that might be unique – completely outside typical hiring cycles. It could be NOW.
So, continue to network regularly, build relationships, develop new skills for yourself, and prepare to move quickly when the right opportunity comes along.
The job market is hot! Job openings are at a record high. If ever there was a time to consider changing jobs, now is it. But if you haven’t switched jobs in a few years, make sure you understand what is new, because job searching in the digital age is different from just a few years ago.
Talk About Competition!
For one thing, technology has led to an explosion of the pool of candidates available to employers. Not only is it easier for candidates to apply for jobs, it is also easier for businesses to find qualified candidates. No longer are you competing with just the local talent – you are potentially competing with job contenders from around the globe. Moreover, technology now enables workers to work remotely with increasing frequency. That means that geography is becoming less of a factor in recruitment when it comes to finding someone with the right skill set for a job.
Who Uses Paper Anymore?
Paper resumes are a relic of a bygone era. Virtually all job communications today, including sending resumes, happens electronically. And if you apply for jobs online, you will encounter ATS, or Applicant Tracking Systems. ATS software has become increasingly popular over the past several years because it enables hiring managers to quickly scan thousands of resumes for keywords that match the job description. If your resume doesn’t include the right keywords, it may never be seen by human eyes. This means that it is as important to craft an ATS-safe resume as it is to make it eye-catching to real people.
It is also important to tailor your resume for every job, structured according to what the company’s known needs are. The success of your application might hinge on one word. Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer of the Barrett Group, recounts one client who was the highest-ranking tech person at his company. Although he reported directly to the COO, his title was “Director of Technology,” not “CIO,” and his resume reflected as much. His efforts to find a new position as a CIO continually came up short until he finally added that one word to his resume. Before long, he landed a position as a CIO.
“When an employer gets 10,000 applications and someone needs to find the five best ones, they’re trying to quickly whittle down the list,” said Resendes.
Success Starts with Social Networking
Networking has always been a great way to get a leg up on the competition when it comes to job hunting. In the digital age, it’s crucial. One reason why is that jobs are often posted on job boards as a matter of formality after someone has already been earmarked for that position.
“If you’re responding to job boards, you’re coming late to the party,” says Resendes.
Professional connections enable you to learn about potential opportunities before they even become available. And sometimes a connection is reason enough for a company to create an opportunity. If you offer a skill set that is attractive to a hiring manager, she will find a way to bring you onboard.
Employers often encourage their current employees to leverage their networks and refer their friends. According to a report by software company iCIMS, which designs ATS and recruiting software, 60% of employers believe that referrals bring in candidates that are a better fit for the company. They have good reason to think so. The report finds that 70% of referred employees surveyed have not changed positions since being hired, which means that employers can expect higher retention rates from referral hires.
While a business lunch is still a perfectly acceptable way to network, social media is the best way to build and maintain the informal relationships that are most useful in job hunting. If you’re a professional, the most important one is LinkedIn. The iCIMS report found that, when it comes to job research, 56% of workers use LinkedIn – more than any other social media.
Unlike other social network websites, LinkedIn is uniquely designed for professional networking. Members design a profile page that is structured like an online resume. You can summarize your career and education and highlight certain skills and expertise. You make connections by inviting people to join your network, which enables you to see their connections and even the connections of those connections. This visual web of professional connections enables you to develop new ones at the companies or industries that interest you.
Members in your network can also endorse you for skills, which increases your professional value in the eyes of other members of your network. According to Dan Resendes, your goal should be to get endorsements from 99+ people in your network. How? The easiest way is to endorse people in your network, yourself. People will often return the favor. What’s more, the activity might also lead to a phone call in which you verbally reconnect, catch up and possibly learn about upcoming opportunities – all from endorsing one person.
Did you know that savvy LinkedIn members can tweak their URL to boost hits on search engines? Say that you are a career auditor but want to transition into operations. You can add certain keywords to the URL of your profile to highlight skills that recruiters might be seeking.
Mistakes to Avoid
The number one mistake a job seeker can make is to prepare his cover letter and resume and immediately apply for a job, says Resendes. The first thing should ALWAYS be to ask yourself: Do I have social capital that connects me to that company? Would the person that can connect me to that company advocate on my behalf? Leveraging social connections should always be the first action.
The second big mistake is to customize just the cover letter of an application. It bears repeating that a resume should always be tailored to the position. And don’t worry about the length. Workers of a certain age remember well the one-page resume. But, nowadays, the length can be as long as necessary to show employers that you offer tremendous value. Still, your resume should not necessarily list ALL of your qualifications. Senior people sometimes list everything, thinking it will help them. But doing so can sometimes make you seem overqualified. The trick is to list only what is necessary to appear like the perfect fit.
You will be Googled! Most seasoned professionals did all their embarrassing, youthful antics before the digital age. But remember: whatever information might be on the Internet about you – both good and bad – is there forever. The best way to make sure your digital footprint best represents you is to post new information – articles, posts, etc. Search engines highlight new information over old.
Some hiring managers may ask you to interview by video. If so, be aware of good video etiquette. That means, be aware of your backdrop, confine your movements to the camera frame, avoid barking dogs and other background noise – and, above all, know how to use video technology!
Job seekers should keep in mind that an effective job search cuts both ways. Workers should always research a company before accepting a job offer. Thanks to technology, they have much better means at their disposal than ever before to do so. According to iCIMS, nearly one in three full-time working Americans – and 47% of millennials – have declined a job offer primarily because the company had negative online employer reviews.
A quick internet search of a company or its leaders will yield a trove of useful information to get started. Job seekers can then find online reviews and salary information about companies at Glassdoor. Finally, they can glean a lot of information about company culture by simply following corporate executives on Twitter or other social media.
Technology has changed the landscape of the job search. Embracing these changes could mean new opportunities for you.
Are you in a midlife career change? Are you changing careers at 30, 40 or 50 years of age? Do you need a new career? If you are currently experiencing difficulty in your job search, we’re here to help. Please send a message with your information or call.