Lost in a Crowd of Job Candidates?

by The HeadHunter on January 9, 2010

Cartoon Crowd

The first interview was a week ago. 
It’s the job you want. 
You’re anxious. 

You emailed a “Thank You”. 
You reiterated your interest. 
You’ve received no response to your “Thank You” email(s) and no call to set up a next step.
The silence is unsettling.
You want to do something but you’re not sure what to do.

What’s the likely PROBLEM? 
You’re already lost in the crowd, in the process, in the time crunch.

You don’t know for sure but there’s a good chance your problem is related to the crowd factor.  If you weren’t marked as a first choice candidate after the first interview, chances are they won’t reconnect with you.   At least, not any time soon.  They may have received hundreds of resumes for the position.  Scores of interviews may be underway.  They’re trying to determine who the best candidate for the position will be. 

How do you find out where you stand?
Maybe you think the interview went well but the communication shut-out has you thinking that you haven’t been selected.  You may be thinking you could have provided better answers to a couple of questions you weren’t expecting.  Is it possible that you could have an opportunity to clarify some answers and have another chance to demonstrate that you’re the best candidate?  How can you determine your status as a candidate?

You’re tempted to press for feedback.

Don’t press for feedback
It’s not likely that you will receive specific interview feedback.  Pressing for it is more likely to hurt your cause than help it.

If you’re a serious professional, don’t send multiple emails or make repeated calls requesting feedback.  Sending messages and pushing for answers with statements like “…this is my third email…”, “… I haven’t received a reply…”, “…I would like to know where I stand…”, “… Have you hired someone for the position…?” is wipe out proposition. 

Gain a realistic perspective on the process.  Like it or not, they won’t respond to everyone.  Never been done in the history of recruiting-selection-hiring by a corporate entity.  Ever.  Even if they claim differently.  They don’t have the time.  

Don’t concern yourself with the interviewer’s failure to meet your expectations.  Take an approach that fits with the realities of the process.  Forget about getting feedback.  Stop waiting and wondering.  Find a positive, creative way to renew your visibility.

The invisibility of same-ness
Applicants, interviewees, and others vying for the attention of interviewers generally do the same things (like a “Thank You” follow-up)  and say the same things in almost exactly the same way (like using email and snail mail), at about the same time (day of interview or next day initially, then one week later or so) using the same words (“Thank you…”, “I really appreciate…”, “..your time…”, “I am very interested…”) in the same format (style, font, standard stock, store bought “Thank You” cards, etc.).  

Doing and saying the same things the same way at the same time as everyone else just smooths you into the crowd that much more.

Stand out in the crowd
There are thousands of bits of advice out there related to post interview follow up.  My purpose here isn’t to inspire you with a magical technique guaranteed to land you a second interview.  Instead, I’ll offer a reality check, some basic logic and a few ideas to help you gain visibility.

In no particular order:

  1. Do something.  In case you were wondering, it’s better to do something than nothing when you’re faced with interview process hang-time.  Time isn’t working to your advantage.  The employer is interviewing other candidates.   After one week, you’re probably a vague recollection in the interviewer’s mind.  Take action.
  2. Stop obsessing.  Just a friendly reminder not to let your overwhelming desire for the “perfect” job  interfere with your full-out job search.  Maintain your active pursuit of every right-fit opportunity out there. 
  3. “Thank You” emails  typically get no response.  Of course it was the right thing to do but “everyone” does it.   Maybe you mailed a “Thank You” card too.   Again, the right thing to do but standard ”Thank You” emails and letters aren’t going to get you anywhere.   Drop your expectation for a reply.
  4. “Thank You” or “Follow-Up” phone calls typically get no response.  “Hi Jim, Bob Smith here.  Say,  I just wanted to thank you again for our conversation last Thursday and get an update on the status of…”  [That's probably about where your voice message was deleted - and there is nothing negative about that - it's just interview process reality.]  Again, you did the right thing by calling, but almost everyone does the same thing.  Are you really expecting a call back?
  5. Let go of your expectation of return calls and emails.  A return call or email isn’t likely to happen unless you’re already recognized as a leading candidate or you’ve said or written (or done)  something creative and attention grabbing enough to be worthy of a response.  They’re receiving dozens if not hundreds of combined emails/calls each day.  The messages all look and sound about the same.  They’re predisposed to “no reply” and the ”delete” key as a practical workload balance and focus measure.
  6. Don’t think and act as if you are the customer.  If you’re waiting for service in the form of interview feedback, an email or voicemail reply then you’re approach is really upside down.  Have you said something like this to yourself or others:  “I wouldn’t want to work for a company that doesn’t follow up?”  If so, add yourself to the ranks of frustrated  job searchers who use the “I did this… but they didn’t do that” excuse.  The healthiest, most productive view to take is the employer is your customer.  You make the next moves.  They’ll buy, or not.
  7. Understand that you’ve had only one interview.  This may have been with a hiring manager or a “screener”; a recruiter or other process agent/influencer handling the front gate.  If you think it went well, it probably did.   Was it just another one of many first interviews that “went well” in their mind.  Is there a “I liked him, but…” in the interview notes? 
  8. Negatives may have been detected since your interview.  They may have googled you and found something they didn’t like.   Make sure your personal and professional online presence is solid.
  9. Send a video email.  Why?  Because it’s likely that no other candidate will do it.  Because video is powerful if done well.  Because it’s interesting and your recipient will probably watch it.  Because when they do, they are thinking about you for the job.  Don’t know how?  Learn.  Say “thanks again”, reiterate your interest in the work to be done (not in “getting the job”), restate your value proposition and relay that you’re looking forward to next steps.   This has to be very well done.  If you’re creepy or inauthentic, a video can be disastrous.  Don’t ask for anything.   If your video is more than 1 minute long, don’t send it.   30-40 seconds may be best.
  10. Send a unique document summarizing your perspectives and ideas on the work that needs to be done.  This can be a Word doc or a PowerPoint presentation.  Engage a work-in-progress conversation.  Stand out from the crowd by focusing your attention and interests on the work that needs to be done rather than on getting the job.
  11. Make sure your resume, a link to your online resume, a link to your blog page or to a professional profile is on every communication.  This will invite a convenient second look at your qualifications.  This will help your cause much more than asking a question or making a request for return communication. 
  12. In all conversations and messages, be highly professional, personable, engaging, authentic, energetic

If you want to stand out in the crowd don’t expect the ordinary to work.  Be open to interview process realities and be willing to try something different.  Don’t wait.  Do it now.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Heather Coleman January 12, 2010 at 10:29 am

This is a very well-written post filled with current, savvy information for the career seeker. I’m Twittering this out right now, and posting it to our Ferndale Career Center and Career Savvy FB Pages. Thank you!


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