Understanding the New New Job Market and What Not to Expect from HR

I returned from Kenya on the 22 of December 2009.  In a very brief period of time I was able to access my computer, update my resume and LinkedIn Profile and begin applying for jobs.

Initially I had high hopes as who wouldn’t want some one who recently worked abroad, has a graduate degree, did Peace Corps, has an impressive array of work experience and volunteering. It seemed reasonable anyone would want to hire a competent, enthusiastic about life, educated person.  I have been keeping up the positive attitude as I know it will get me further then actually sharing the sadness and demoraliztion I feel both over being unemployed and the craziness of the job market.

In talking to a few friends, I realized I was not alone in having difficulty reading the tea leaves of current corporate speak.  It is somewhere between we know we need to hire some one, maybe you, maybe not you, but some one like you and until we actually decide what we want to do, can you just hang out (you have nothing else to do as no one is knocking on your door to come work) AND look, we have spent all this money doing a mega-hiring campaign so we better get our monies worth and we are going to drag this process out until the cows (and chickens and most likely ground hogs) come home.  Get it – no one is making decisions nor are they being professional.

Cases in point of my own and then I will relate some of what my friends are going through:

(1) Applied for job in February 2010.  Had first interview on 26 February. Second interview with another person was two days later.  Nothing happens for 10 days except I am offered another job, which I am then unoffered (I don’t even understand) but in between I check in with the people I have interviewed with as I might want to take the now unoffered job.  Suddenly reference checks are done.  Interview three is to be for somewhere around the week of 15 March but nothing specific. Interview three occurs as I am walking into the library, completely catching me off guard and I fumble, but not badly.  Interview three leads to interview four, which was really a check in to make sure I knew what job I was applying for and what was going on. It was essentially a Skype (sight and sound live call) call.   I was then informed there would be an interview five. That was 10 days ago. Interview five has not happened – not sure why, tried to find out as I am scheduling other things around the possibility of interview five. Not only has there been no interview five, when I sent a check in e-mail stating that I am guessing no one is able to make a decision at this time, however, would it be possible to continue accessing the website past the ten day free trial (so I can review all of it in  case I am offered the job), there has been no response.  There continues to be no response so I posed the question on an HR group website I belong to through LinkedIn to see what the professionals would have done. Thus far, the professionals have stated it would have been valuable for the potential employer to keep in contact and tell me what was going on.  Since I don’t want to assume it was only the potential employer, I put out a phone call to ask for information regarding what it was I did which prevented me from both interview five and obtaining the job. I stated it was a matter of house cleaning and I wanted to know for future reference so I did not repeat the mistake. Upshot? No response.  Would I be able to reasonably state this company is one a teacher should use for a resource??? Are you kidding….they can not communicate.

Monday morning quarterbacking with friends was something like this – it is probably between you and one or two other people and maybe there is an internal struggle within the company so the decision makers are deliberating.  I asked if it seemed reasonable that some one would tell me at this point if another person was selected and that does seem reasonable. Still don’t know.  Position was to be filled by end of March 2010. That leaves until Wednesday and after that I am not sure how company functions but feeling this does not bode well for their future.

(2) Applied for job with temp agency. Sent all of the relevant paperwork via .pdf files on e-mail, filled out on line application.  The people at the temp agency contacted me for an interview and told me what to bring to the interview the following week.  I show up for the interview a little over 1 hour early as there is always paperwork to fill out and tests to be taken. Person in office is truly upset that I came early – it seemed to ruin their morning. When they get ready to conduct interview with me, they can not find the paperwork, which I confirmed with the employee who made the appointment. Apparently this company has a protocol and procedure for intake and some one did not follow it.   I dig around on my iPhone, find the file and forward. Sending from an iPhone is not as efficient as sending from a computer so there was a time delay.  The person who was to interview me was somewhat upset that I expected their office to print out the necessary documents they originally asked me for in the e-mail – which I would have understood if they had not asked for the documents and told me to send via snail mail the copies or bring them with me and if the person who made the appointment had not confirmed each and every item.  The fact that this violated the protocol was very upsetting to the person who was to interview me. The interview happens, the person received the I-9 documents and a copy of something else in their hand.  Today I get called they can not find the documents I put in their hand during the interview, might I know where they are.  Meanwhile, they contacted one of my references and then thought maybe they could do some marketing with my reference. Fortunately my reference was smart enough to ask me what was going on.   Temp agency found the documents after I asked them to go back through the file. They now have everything they need.  Of course, this was all my fault because I was organized and on time. Follow up – I asked for the on line tests to take for typing speed, MS Software, etc.  Finally received that Friday afternoon, ten days after original request but who is counting or trying to be professional.

I have talked with a couple friends. The Monday morning quarterbacking is this – maybe the temp agency needs a new person at the front desk. Grin and bear it, get a temp job to have cash flow.  Under no circumstances do I accept the job of the office assistant as apparently they have created a bonafide mess and the other person is covering for them. Don’t get caught having to clean up the mess, even though you are highly qualified for the job and would turn the whole business around.

(3)  Blind ads from local charter schools being run. The ad states what the charter school needs, which is lengthy and does not say anything about pay, location, whether they are a small school within a school district or a bona fide charter school (these are two different phenomena).   If this were a job in Silicon Valley, surely I would send off a resume – people in Silicon Valley are always on the search for talent and run blind ads to see who is looking and determine if they have enough venture capital to pay persons X, Y, Z.  Schools have a set budget.  There is no mystery that schools are looking for talent, or in the case of charter schools, generally people who can work 14 hour days, need no sleep and eat belly button fuzz.  A public school not being forthright about naming themselves borders on sketchy. If they are proud of what they do, why do they need to do the fog and mirrors?

(4) This one is from a friend. Applies for ad which is run on Craigslist.  Receives a call saying the resume is great but would they be interested in job Y, not X, which they applied for. Sure, no problem.  Receives call for interview. Goes to interview. Asks if they would be interested in job Q, not the Y they applied for or job X that they came to this interview for. Sure, no problem.  Has interview for job Q the following week.  Has round two interview for job Q.  Doesn’t hear anything for two weeks.  Get’s call they are being offered the job as soon as back ground check and health clearance done.  Length of process – four weeks.

(5) Another friend applied for a job in December 2009.  Interviewed in January. Had second and then third interview in February (two different cities, two different offices).  Has been told they will know something in a week (repeatedly for the last three weeks).  Again, no indication person does not have job or some one else was hired.

All I am trying to figure out is where did these HR people go to school and who taught them to vett potential employees by driving them nuts?  Is it unreasonable to expect the same level of professionalism on the otherside of the interview desk?  I keep reminding myself of the saying that you will see everyone on your way up and you had better be nice in case you need to see them on the way down.

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