Career Corner: Broken Promises

By Angela Copeland

For years, one of the hardest challenges I’ve seen with the job search is what I’ll call broken promises. These broken promises can happen anywhere along the job search journey. And honestly, they have the ability to be pretty upsetting to job seekers at every point of the process.

Let me give a few examples. Maybe you’ve submitted your resume and the hiring manager has promised you an interview. Then, they drop off the face of the earth. Or, you’ve had an interview and are told you’ll know something in a week and then radio silence. Or, perhaps you’ve gone through an interview or two, and you’ve been told you’re advancing to the next round. Then, poof! The company ghosts you. Or, you’ve gotten to the very last round of the entire process and you’ve been told you’re the one, and the company decides not to hire anyone. Or, perhaps they offer you a contract role when you interviewed for a full time job. Or, maybe they offer you a lower title or a different job than you interviewed for.

Unfortunately, most companies look at the process of hiring as a business transaction. It’s not personal. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. No big deal, right?

Wrong. If it’s been a while since you interviewed, you may have forgotten what a job seeker sacrifices to interview. They may give up money from their existing job when they miss work to come to your interviews. They may risk being fired if they’re found to be interviewing. Or, they may turn down other job interview opportunities to pursue yours. They’re making choices based on the feedback you’re giving them.

Job seeker, the best advice I have for you is this: until there’s a job offer on the table, there’s no offer. Don’t assume the company will move you forward. Don’t put your other searches on hold until you have something in writing. Don’t reorganize your life plans until you have a contract. I know this can be hard. When a company tells you they love you, they’re convincing. They may even be telling the truth. It’s not unusual for a company to love you and then have a reason they can’t hire someone new.

Hiring manager, I know, you can’t hire everyone. Lots of things happen that are outside of your control. Budgets change, timelines change, priorities change. But, there is something you can control: you can be transparent. You can let a candidate know directly when you’ve moved on. You can do it quickly, not months later. If the timeline changes, you can give the job seeker an update.

Job seekers care much less that they weren’t hired, if the rejection comes from a company that was honest and transparent. They may even apply again when a new opportunity comes along that’s a better fit. Now, that’s a positive business transaction!

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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