We’re six months into the Covid-19 pandemic and millions of Americans are out of work or desperately worried that they’ll lose their jobs. Going through this ordeal is mentally, emotionally, financially and spiritually damaging.
To add insult to injury, instead of being empathetic, understanding and caring about people who are seeking out a new job and interviewing during this time, corporations and their representatives, according to the hundred-plus people I’ve spoken to, are indifferent and callous.
Here is what job seekers are saying about their experiences, as they look for a new job.
Juwairia Abbas was surprised and incensed when a recruiter first asked, “Are you a U.S. citizen? Do you need sponsorship?” Abbas said of the interaction, “Clearly, nothing prompts this question aside from my skin color and name.” A review of her résumé would have shown her experiences, including law school, were based in the United States.
Mary Lynn English, a marketing professional, is incredulous as to “why organizations don’t acknowledge receipt of an application or let applicants know they’ve not been selected, [especially because] there is technology available that makes this possible.” Another rude annoyance for English is that “ghosting after a pre-screen has been a common occurrence.” Similar to many other candidates out there, she feels that, during the interview process, “not getting back to an interviewee afterward is either thoughtlessness or symptomatic of disorganization and poor management.”
Ravi Shankar Adiga’s biggest perceived roadblock has been ageism. He believes companies think that if you have over 20 years of experience, recruiters equate “higher experience with bloated salary and egos, which is a huge generalization [to make].” Adiga also asserts that hiring managers maintain that “40-plus years of experience is equated with obsolete skill sets, which again is not true.”
Tim Gould is trying to pivot into a new career in human resources. He says that his challenge is not possessing the “right experience.” Gould related his recent experience with a recruiter. “I spoke with a recruiter last week and they said I had great adjacent experience and submitted me for the position.” According to the job description, the position was an entry-level role. Gould was open to taking steps backward to move forward in a new career that he’s excited about. Unfortunately, he shared, “They came back yesterday and said the client did not want to proceed with me with no feedback.” Gould followed up and asked for specific reasoning as to why his application was rejected. Although the role was for an entry-level person, “The recruiter came back and said they wanted someone with more HR experience.” Dejected and confused, Gould said, “I am at a loss that I am qualified for the position, yet I am still being passed over without an opportunity to gain any experience.”
Alan Ward is in the same boat as Gould. “What I have seen is jobs that are posted as ‘entry level,’ but will ask for at least five years of experience. I feel this is a tactic to justify a low-salary offering. I have already stepped away from one position due to the low offer and their refusal to negotiate based on experience,” Ward said. Brent Laning echoed Gould and Ward’s frustrations. Laning said, “It’s impossible to get a foot in the door without experience. The old Catch-22 is in play that you can’t get hired without experience, but you can’t get experience without being hired.”
Michael Fatta has seen a lot in his job search. He was an executive in the hospitality sector in Florida. That industry has been gravely impacted since the emergence of the coronavirus. Since then, Fatta has bumped into a number of roadblocks, like “getting through the applicant tracking system, with potentially hundreds of other people applying.” He would be under the impression that a company would like to move fast, then would not hear back after two-to-three interviews with no response after follow-up emails. Fatta expresses his concern, “I am viewed as overqualified, so there is skepticism in hiring me for some positions and [I] believe a sense of ageism prevails.” He also frustratingly sees old job postings for months that are not being taken down, but rather recirculated.
Michelle Dow also gets annoyed with the proliferation of stale jobs online. “Sometimes the jobs listed are no longer available because they are filled or put on hold, but job boards aren’t current. So, it’s a waste of time,” Dow says. Ally Girone agrees, “I know many jobs have been filled, but are still posted online. It’s not fair when employers don’t take them down after they have started the process. It’s so time consuming to apply. Even worse is that they auto repost leading applicants to believe they are new.”
Natia Kiria’s frustration lies in the lack of feedback. “They never come back [to you].” She wonders how she could improve upon her interviewing skills if no one offers feedback and constructive criticism that could be applied to the next interview?
Ater jumping through all of the hoops, without any meaningful feedback, it makes Kiria feel that she has just wasted her time. “I believe that businesses, and mostly the HR people who work there, need to think about social-responsibility issues. [People] need to be treated with respect and consideration.”
“It’s not enough to make statements on your websites about how good you are or doing all the right things that are fancy or obliged. In reality, there are huge failures—or we can say a big black hole between the statements and behaviors. Sad, but it’s true. To be honest, all these problems come from the wrong attitude. If you don’t love people, you should never go for HR roles.”
Kristen Nolan Winsko wrote, “My biggest complaint is never hearing back from the recruiter, especially after things have progressed to an interview. Many candidates, myself included, are interested in knowing why they weren’t selected (and not some BS line, but the hard truth), so we can work on ourselves and improve our chances of getting selected ‘the next time.’ But I have felt that I submit my résumé, and most of the time, it feels like I am submitting it to a big black hole.” Winkso added, “Even when I have been contacted first, if I get an interview, most of the time I never hear anything until I see on LinkedIn that someone else was hired. And I call and email the recruiter, but I never hear back. It is very frustrating and has left me with a very cynical view of recruiters. Even if we didn’t get true feedback, having it confirmed that they are ‘passing’ on a candidate is nice to know.”
Chrys Lewis said, “It’s a never-ending search that includes countless forms that ask for the same information listed on a résumé. Filling out long, glitchy applications separately for each job posting takes time.” Lewis added, “I spend upward of four hours a day looking and applying to jobs with little-to-no feedback.” She noted, “Some job boards are not up to date, list non-existing jobs [or have been] listed in May and then relisted with reduced salaries today.” Additionally, she sees a trend in downgrading the salaries now that there is an oversupply of job seekers. “Jobs that only pay $40k per year are asking for masters or doctorate degrees.”
“I’ve applied to over 70 jobs in the last two months and have just a handful of rejection emails. I’m to the point that I actually get excited to see a rejection email because at least they responded and I can cross that possibility off my list.”
It also hurts when family and friends don’t understand or appreciate what the job seekers in their lives are going through. “What is most frustrating is this idea that we are just sitting at home not wanting to work. I would much rather have a job. I’m so upset at the lack of respect from those that have managed to hold on to their jobs and how they view and treat those that are not as lucky. I’ve worked hard every day of my life since I was 15 years old. I’m 59 and afraid for my future.”
Titus Minor loves being a recruiter and has been applying for recruiter roles with little success. Minor said, “I seem to always receive an email saying they are moving forward with other candidates or they are looking for an entry-level recruiter with five years of experience. It’s very frustrating when you have almost 10 years of recruiting experience and have always been able to land an opportunity before Covid-19. I’ve had several résumé-writing companies review my résumé, as well as my last leader. I really would like to know why I’m not getting phone-screen invites?”
Kelley Rios started her job search in late April. “As a training professional with 20-plus years, I thought my skills and experience would be sought after to help companies quickly move to online learning. So, while these skills are in high demand, it hasn’t been as straightforward as I thought it would be.”
Rios has encountered ageism, as most of the job postings list “entry level.” After being seen as overqualified, she said, “I have even tried removing some of my experience from my résumé to no avail. I’m afraid gray hair isn’t as easy to hide in your profile picture.”
Kyle Richman shared, “My biggest frustration is when my time is wasted. It takes a lot of time and energy to search and find jobs. Some applications can take an hour to fill out. They want a résumé, but won’t look at the résumé. So, you have to fill out every detail on their application, which is on the résumé.” He provides an example of how a company didn’t value his time and efforts to get to the interview.
“Last week, I drove three hours and stayed the night at a place for an early-morning interview, just to be told two-out-of-the-three people interviewing me will be out on vacation.” I got asked four typical HR questions and then was asked if I had any questions. I presented my questions and this person was not the one with the answers. It was a big waste of time and could have been a phone call or they could of looked at my résumé and had their questions answered. Preparation needs to be both ways from employers and job seekers.”
Willie Brown has been the victim of ghosting. A typical occurrence is when “the recruiter will contact you, schedule a telephone interview and then you don’t hear back from them, yay or nay. It’s obvious they already have an internal candidate in mind, but are just going through the process to eliminate EEOC concerns. Also, it’s been very difficult to get interviews. That may be because of the application, which forces you to put down the date of your high school graduation, college graduation and, in some cases, salary requirements. It doesn’t take a math major to figure out your approximate age.”
Alison Maddern wrote, “I’d have to say my biggest point of frustration is with the lack of replies. Whether it’s a standard ‘we received your application, but we’ve moved on with someone else’ or a one-line reply from a recruiter you’ve reached out to for advice/help or with hiring managers ghosting you after an interview. The lack of basic, professional etiquette and leaving people hanging during this incredibly stressful and overwhelming time has been disappointing. It always stings to hear you didn’t get the job or that someone can’t take you on as a client, but hearing back—even with bad news—is always better than no response at all. These aren’t usual or normal times; the way we work, communicate and how or when we get back to people shouldn’t be usual either.”
It’s sad to read these stories, especially since most of these issues could be easily fixed. Hopefully, if companies hear these complaints, they can take the appropriate measures to treat job seekers with respect and dignity during one of the worst job markets since the Great Depression.