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Mutual respect is missing during job search

By now most job seekers know some of the ways to apply for jobs. Conventional job boards like Monster, Dice and CareerBuilder, and job aggregators like Indeed and Simply Hired are a start as are corporate careers websites and using LinkedIn. These all should supplement, not be, your primary job search tools.
These days many job leads come from through family, friends, and through local networking contacts. Others may come from a few selected recruiters and agencies you know and trust – all can be considered part of the ‘hidden job market.’ These are jobs that don’t necessary get posted to websites – contacts rely on people they know and trust to fill these openings.
So far, so good…..However from my experience as a job support group facilitator, many recruiters don’t keep applicants updated on their candidacy for different positions they’ve applied to or have followed up on. As background there are different types of recruiters – many rely on a company’s VMS (Vendor Management System). Through a VMS, a job lead is sent from a company into the VMS database. From there, all vendors/recruiters that use that VMS can email that specific job to contacts these recruiters have in their own databases. In my cases, a person may receive that same job multiple times if they’re on different vendors’ database.
Other leads come from ‘preferred’ recruiters who work only with a specific company or companies. Less competition but it’s still not ideal.
No matter how you find out about a job, you apply for it and wait to hear next steps . But how often do you hear back; you may get a ‘thanks for applying’ email but nothing else, not even a ‘rejection email.’
Reasons may vary – a recruiter/vendor may not know themselves about the status of a job. Or they don’t want to share bad news with you. More likely they’re either too busy to follow-up or it’s a combination of all of these. As job seekers, you always should follow-up every two weeks or so (preferably by phone) with these recruiters and request an update on your candidacy. If you don’t hear back after two or three attempts it’s time to focus your job search energies with other recruiters and their agencies.
Let’s assume you get some good news – the recruiter has set up a phone screen (first step in the interview process). Once you interview ends, as a final question it’s not inappropriate to ask when a decision will be made to fill the position and when and who you should follow-up with. You’ll probably also send a ‘thanks for speaking with me’ email or hand-written letter and…..
Then, the waiting begins. Days, weeks and maybe months go by and you don’t get any feedback on how the interview went. Has the position been filled, has it been put on hold, or has the hiring manager decided they want to interview others. As the job seeker you don’t know which (if any of these) is the case; in many cases, neither does the recruiting or agency.
Let’s assume you get feedback (good or bad). Bad news – the recruiter and/or hiring manager tells you the position has been filled. In that case, you thank everyone for their time. Good news- the manager wants to meet with you in person.
Assuming the good news – you’re meeting in-person with someone from the company. Again as one of your final questions, you ask about follow-up and next steps. You hope all went well but you never know….Again the waiting begins. More cases than not, you won’t hear back either way.
This scenario plays itself out too often and it shows a lack of respect for everyone, differently, when it comes to job search. My time is just as valuable to me as it is to a recruiting or hiring manager. I’m interviewing the company as well to see if it makes sense for me to work there.
There may be some valid reasons for not supplying certain types of feedback. Also rejection whether it comes from a hiring manager or a recruiter isn’t something most people feel comfortable sharing. But I have more respect for those who are honest and willing to at least thank me for taking the time to interview with them.
Job search is no different than buying a home or making any similar large purchase – you have a buyer and a seller and the economic times determine which side has the edge. But it doesn’t have to be this way nor should it. It’s no wonder that many job seekers feel frustrated, even a bit betrayed by this process.
I’d love to hear from recruiters/HR professionals to share their thoughts and feedback with job seekers. Maybe I’m missing something as a job support group facilitator. My email is

New solutions needed to get unemployed back to work

Statistics. They’re great if used appropriately and if they’re understood. According to a recent U.S. government ‘statistic’ the inflation rate is about 1 percent. But anyone who buys anything knows that’s probably not a true portrayal of costs event though that rate is defined as ‘the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising.’
The same argument can be made for what the media, government and politics use when quoting the unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That rate refers to “the percentage of the total labor force that is unemployed but actively seeking employment and willing to work.’ But that rate is not an accurate portrayal of the percentage of Americans who want to work full-time but aren’t able to. The ’official’ rate doesn’t include those whose unemployment benefits have run out, those who are under-employed (e.g. working part-time when they’d rather work full-time) or others who choose for whatever reason not to file an unemployment claim. That’s one reason why I’m opposed to the decision to cut off federal unemployment benefits
By using the ‘official unemployment rate’ nearly 90,000 New Jersey residents will have their unemployment benefits cut off on 12/28 as Congress failed to vote on extending long-term benefits before going on recess until early next year. But even that number is a bit deceiving as it doesn’t include what I call the ‘forgotten unemployed’ – those who aren’t counted by the government.
I agree there needs to be a finite amount of time before a person’s unemployment benefits expire. But along with unemployment benefits, there needs a viable system in place to help train those that want to work in a field but don’t have the needed skills. This isn’t just about re-training someone to do a different type of job as much as it is to explain how to ‘network’ – that generic term meant to explain how to find jobs besides applying online to job boards and sending up your resume hundreds of times without hearing back. Teach how to connect with people, schedule ‘informational’ interviews, have resume review sessions and schedule job fairs which don’t just have customer service or sales jobs.
For those of us who are a specific ‘age’ we acknowledge there are many biases that hinder our individual job searches. Many employers won’t hire someone who’s out of work; others will find ways not hire an older person by questions they ask and by how they phrase a job description. Others assume we won’t work for a specific salary based on our job history. Let’s just say when I get called by a recruiter and their first question is whether I’m working and I say ‘no’ that conversation ends abruptly without any acknowledge or interest in my situation. I’ve learned to ‘dance’ around that question and others like it.
We all can agree to disagree on how we got into this situation – but pointing fingers and grandstanding isn’t going to change anything soon. Emotions run high and there are some simple ways that we can fix things as long as we acknowledge the system is broken and not point fingers and play the ‘blame game’
There needs to be an open discussion between hiring managers, recruiters, those out of work and those who are working. We need to leave government out of this equation as much as possible. I’ve said on more than one occasion that the government Healthcare website would’ve been up and running a bit easier if they let many of the IT and marketing people who are out of work, fix it. As well-meaning as some in government may be, a long-term (no pun intended) solution needs to come from a consortium of officials at Fortune 500 companies and other stakeholders.
There are many great job support groups that have sprung up out of necessity – the challenge is to integrate the best of each into one location. I’m calling on those who are in position to help me make this dream come true. I also facilitate several job support groups in northern NJ. I welcome LinkedIn connection requests –

Steps To Success teams with local job support group

Steps To Success will be partnering with Neighbors-helping-Neighbors USA, Inc. (NhN_USA), a cost-free, nationally recognized, successful Peer-led volunteer weekly job search support and networking group targeted to individuals who are actively looking for work and interested in reinvigorating their job search.

What advice would you give a college senior who will be entering the job market next year?

It’s never too soon for college seniors to start thinking about the 2013 job market. Most college seniors are extremely fluent in social media, but probably mainly on Facebook. LinkedIn should be considered the place where a college senior can truly differentiate himself or herself. In addition to looking for a paying job, the goal should be to also consider internships (paid or unpaid) in the college student’s field of choice.

To connect or not to connect on LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become a main networking location to connect with other job seekers, hiring managers, recruiters, business owners and others you feel will benefit you. But, as with everything, there is a certain protocol or etiquette to connecting and building a business relationship.

Time Management – Top Tips

As a small business owner and job seeker, managing your time and expectations are extremely important if you want to maintain the proper focus. I struggle with this issue and can be easily distracted by a phone call or a tendency to check my emails more often than is probably needed.

What do you think is an appropriate email greeting?

How do you open your emails to clients and/or a prospective employer? From my experience it seems that fewer people begin these notes with “Dear” and the tone seems more informal than I’d prefer in a business setting. I see ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ most often and these greetings seem a bit too friendly for me.