In this economy, a number of job seekers are experiencing a known affect mostly experienced post the job interview, that of when the employer stops communicating and goes cold. This comes as a surprise to many job seekers, who feel that not only had they made progress with this job application to a great point in the employment process, but that after what they thought was a great job interview they are wondering where the offer letter is?
As a recruiter, I know this situation is increasing. The market is flooded with good candidates, and employers can negotiate some great deals at present from employees they thought that they would never gain access to. But what I also know, is that job applicants could have either predicted this situation occurring earlier in the job application process, or have mitigated the problem.
Employment is a process
The first thing to state, is that employment is a process. Firstly you have job application, which is most successfully approached through a combination of techniques combining direct application to selected employers (push marketing), personal branding (pull marketing), and responding to adverts (reactive job application). The second stage is employment, and with so much regulation around these days that is always run to a process. This process will differ from company to company, and reflect both that companies culture and the country in which they operate. But it will always run to a process.
The process will differ between companies, but generally for corporates expect a more sterile and remote type approach, while for small employers expect a great deal of change and people innovation in what may not be a well developed or regularly used process. When half of all private sector jobs are sourced from what are termed SME employers, this type of under developed and not recently used process can lead to the greatest number of cases where the prospective employer stops communicating.
Where did you find the job?
A key issue in employment time scales is noting where you sourced the job from. Processes which create a distance between job applicant and hiring manager allow for an easy non-communicative exclusion from the employment process. Hence your likely hood of suffering non-communication increases where you sourced the job either via a jobs board or a recruiter (people who are used to dealing with rejecting job applicants regularly). Direct application to the employer or jobs sourced by networking make such a situation without due cause and hence explanation very unlikely. Your employment process
Your understanding of an employers hiring process starts from the moment you decide that you might want to apply for a job there. While corporate employers will mostly have either a section of their corporate website or a dedicated standalone website where potential job applicants can read about the company and their processes, SME employers might not be so generous. In all cases, I would recommend reading governmental websites which guide job seekers about employment and the law, particularly direct.gov.uk
In summary, aside from legislation which outlaws discrimination on many grounds including age, ability and race, there are few pieces of legislation which cover the process of going from job applicant to employee. Those that are regularly used generally cover the accuracy and legality of the job advert, and they are enforced by your local trading standards office. Hence, unless a job adverts suggests an ideal start date, there is no formal time scale over which the employment process can last.
Telephone interview questions
However, this leads to the opportunity for the job seeker. As no legislation exists, one of the questions that every job seeker should hence ask in the employment process, at latest in their initial telephone interview, is:
- What is your employment process?
- Please outline the process and time scales that you intend to follow in placing the right candidate in your advertised job
- Who is involved in the process?
The questions you are looking to note down in these early stages are the time scales, and who is involved: names, titles and functions. Any employment process will involve at minimum three people: the hiring manager; someone from HR, or who handles the employment contract; the hiring managers boss.
It is important in any job application that to improve your chances of getting that job, that you known the name and title of the hiring manager at the earliest possible stage. However, in the overall employment process, the names and functions of others involved are as key in the stages after getting the hiring managers approval.
In small firms, the HR process may be handled by a third party outsourcing firm, or the companies legal representatives. If you find yourself engaged with a company who do use their legal representative to draft employment contracts, ask for a copy to be available at the job interview, as these arrangements cans often greatly extend employment time scales.
Secondly, there is always a hiring managers boss around somewhere, who is involved in the decision making process. This is even the case when you are being hired by the owner or managing director, as they will consult other directors or employees, external consultants or their social partners. You may not on occasions get a formal name for this person, but be sure you will meet them.
Employment time scale
The key information that you have now collected should now tell you two things.
Firstly, it should tell you your chances of being hired. Busy people who need to hire extra people to help them out will allow employment time scales to slip, as they are busy focused on doing the work over managing the job. This means that they sometimes also get inventive, and hence rather than employing a new person directly may find it easier to employ a contractor or buy in an automated service to reduce their workload. If you are not sure of the “why” the hiring manager needs this position fulfilled, then your chances of employment will always be weak.
Secondly, you should know the outline time scale of both the defined process and the start date. Now through the employment process, you can handle situations when time scales and dates slip by asking how this fits into the process outlined at your telephone interview, and are the time scales now changed or just slipped? Often in big companies, the individual dates of the process will slip, while the start date of employment will stay solid. This is not a problem, as long as you remain aware of any notice period you need to give an existing employer. If you point this out too late in the process, then you could be rejected simply for someone who is available right now.
The final issue to point out is what every sales person knows as Death Valley, the point after you have made the bid application and the customer is in internal decision making mode. While in the case of employment both employer and job applicant are key joint decision makers, each needs to come independently to their own decision. However, on the side of the job seeker, this period can be tense, nervous and often concluding in the though that “they are employing someone else, aren’t they?” The key sales person strategy to over coming Death Valley is pre-agreed communications points, when both parties agree that they should communicate by a certain date or within a certain number of days. At each point in the employment process, you should check the process and time scales moving forward, but particularly after the job interview. If you don’t, then expect an unhappy emotional experience in Death Valley. If you agree the time scales, then when a non communication period occurs you know that on or around the agreed date you are entitled to pick up the telephone with the simple reason that you were just checking that all was proceeding to the agreed time scale.
Employer non-communication is not always a confirmation of your not getting that job, and its handling can make your job seeking experience a lot easier and quicker. Some simple understanding at the start of the employment process, and knowledge of time scales and who is involved, should enable you to get the job you want.