The No. 1 complaint I hear from job seekers (other than what a tyrant their former boss is) concerns the “black hole” of employer communication regarding applications. They don’t receive an acknowledgment that their application was received. They don’t hear anything if they don’t land an interview. Often, even if they interview, they don’t receive a notification if they are not hired. Most candidates consider this the epitome of rudeness.
Employers have the same set of grievances. Applicants don’t make their job targets clear. Interviewees don’t keep appointments and don’t call to cancel. Candidates don’t answer requests for information promptly or at all. Most employers decide these people are not serious about landing a position and are angry their time was wasted.
Both sides say they’re too busy.
Let’s get that out of the way right now. Excuses don’t work on either side. Everyone is busy. Everyone is struggling to balance work and life. If you make a communication mistake, the worst thing you can say is you were too busy to be considerate. It’s makes the other party feel like they aren’t worth your time, and that wrecks a relationship. Don’t do it.
Miscommunicating during a job search can result in a failed candidacy. During a job search, an applicant is scrutinized and compared for just about everything. First, consider the mistake may have cost you the job and learn from the mistake.
Then, apologize. It may or may not be too late, but it’s the right thing to do in any case. Even if it does not save your candidacy, it may save the relationship. It’s probably not the last time this employer will hire. If you conduct yourself with grace, you will leave a good impression, despite a mistake.
If communication is still happening, but you realize you or the other person has made an erroneous assumption, immediately clarify or ask for clarification. If you got it wrong, say so. Transparency is essential because it breeds trust, and that is your ultimate goal.
If you’ve waited too long to respond, you can try to rescue the communication and relationship by apologizing and picking up the conversation. Offer to go an extra mile by asking what the other party needs from you. Make sure your intentions are honest and your communication style crystal clear. It may already be too late for this job, but you may revive the relationship for another day.
Better than repairing miscommunication is to practice clear and reliable communication every day. Here are some tips to support that process:
Answer every message: Common courtesy demands that we answer every message that contains a request. Go a step beyond and answer absolutely every message in your job search. Let the other person know you received and appreciate their message. It will prevent confusion and let the employer know you are paying close attention to your conversation.
Be brief: Unless you are answering a list of questions from the other side, keep your phone and email messages brief. If you have a lot of information to convey on the phone, leave a message outlining the topics and ask to schedule a live call. Other emails can be broken up into topics.
Be clear: Don’t assume the recipient knows what you are talking about. All of us talk to a lot of people about a lot of things every day. Mention the topic and last bit of communication before giving your answer or next piece of information. If there is any doubt, ask for clarification.
Be nice: In everyday life, this is necessary, and in a job search, it is imperative. Even if there is miscommunication or conflict, conduct yourself with the utmost cordiality. Give the other person a break. Ask more than you tell. Assume the best about someone until you are able to obtain the facts. People want to hire people they like.
Be considerate: Think about your recipient’s availability and preferred communication tool. If the recruiter has been emailing you consistently, they probably prefer that mode to a phone call or text. Follow their lead. Don’t send an email at 4:50 pm on Friday and expect an answer the same day.
Be reliable: Keep your commitments. If you said you’d call Tuesday at 2:30 pm, first put it on your calendar and then do it.
Realize the limits of technology: Email is a wonderful invention, but it’s not foolproof. Some emails just disappear. Make a note to yourself to follow up on an email if you haven’t received a response in a reasonable amount of time. You can also use Boomerang, Sidekick, or other apps to schedule and track important communications.
If you feel like your job search is not connecting with the employers you want to attract, contact me right away so we can discuss what is happening and get you back on track.
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- Job Search Communication: Listen
- Job Search Communication: Improve your speaking style
- Job Search Communication: Improve your writing
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