Monday, June 22, 2015

Where has professionalism gone?

No matter where you attend college, professionalism is aways pounded into your head. "You must always be professional!" and "Always be aware of how you are presenting yourself" and "Treat others how you hope to be treated." 

As you progress through your career, you still want to remain professional but it includes much more -- you must remember to be ethical and courteous and to remember you are always representing more than just yourself. 

It all makes sense. It seems like common sense, at least to me it does. If you are ambitious and serious about your career, being professional and ethical should be second nature. 

With all of that said and done, it seems the concept of professionalism is changing in the job hunting word. Personally, I believe it started with the recession of 2008. People were scrambling for employment. Instead of the traditional 20 applicants for a specific job, there were now hundreds. And professionalism on behalf of those hiring began to fly out the window. Applicants still sent thank you notes and followed up. Potential employers stopped sending rejection emails to those who didn't even qualify for an interview. 

That is reasonable. Although some, to the delight of job seekers, arranged for a standard boilerplate rejection email to be sent. Job applicants can understand never hearing back from the potential employer if they weren't selected for an interview. 

What is now happening though, gives me great concern. After speaking with a job applicant, employers are not following up -- even to reject the candidate. Here are two examples of recent experiences: 

Example 1: 
The candidate submitted their resume for a job opening via email. The employer contacted them and arranged a phone interview. The phone interview took place, the applicant believed it was successful enough to call for a face-to-face interview. Before the interview ended, the applicant asked what the next steps were in the hiring process. The employer informed the candidate they would hear back within a week or week and a half. In the evening, the applicant sent a thank you note via email since all communication had been via email and phone. The week and a half went by. Two weeks after the interview the applicant emailed to follow up with the understanding schedules change and other things come up. The applicant reiterated the interest in the position and desire to meet face-to-face to discuss it and their skills more in-depth. The applicant never heard a response from the follow up email. The original interview was at the end of April. It is now towards the end of June and nothing. 

Example 2: 
This candidate submitted their resume for a different job opening via LinkedIn. A representative from the potential employer contacted the applicant and requested additional items which the applicant submitted. The following week the representative contacted the applicant to schedule a face-to-face interview which took place the following week on Thursday. The interviewer had mentioned they were the initial interview, a "get to know you" interview. The interviewer also mentioned if they passed the applicant's name on for the next stage and they couldn't "imagine not passing your name along," the applicant would be meeting with several other people before and if that meeting went well, they would then make it to the third stage of the process to interview with the president of the organization. The interviewer also informed the applicant no timeline had been established but they assumed they would be moving at a rapid pace because there was so much to do. Before leaving, the applicant asked the interviewer if they had any concerns about their resume. The interviewer responded they had none, that the resume was outstanding, the applicant was quite qualified.  
The applicant felt great about the interview and believed they truly connected with the interviewer and became excited about the possibility of the position and all it entailed. After leaving the interview, the applicant wrote a thank you card and stopped at the post office to mail it to make sure it would arrive potentially on Friday but definitely by Monday. The applicant never heard from the organization. A little over two weeks from the initial interview, the applicant sent an email to their point of contact inquiring about the position and reaffirming their interest in the position. The applicant never heard a thing from the point of contact. The interview took place in early May. It is now late June. 

So what gives? Where has basic professionalism gone? Again, job applicants can understand never learning of their rejection if there has never been communication between the applicant and employer. But if there is communication between the two parties, specifically when there is an interview, shouldn't the employer feel obligated to inform the applicant if they have been rejected? 

What could the employers reasoning be for never responding to the applicant's inquiry? The applicant is limited to how often they can contact the employer without being a pest, although I recently read an article stating they should contact them weekly (uh, say what). 

When did basic professionalism disappear? Will it ever return? 

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