Another note to HR… what part of ‘be nice to the unemployed’ did you not understand?

[Welcome to Ben’s second guest post. You may remember this talented yet unemployed media professional from his previous exploits in the job market. This article highlights some of his more recent experiences.]

Ben Breier, 23, was a reporter and web producer for the New York Observer’s Politicker.com, a political news network that suffered massive cutbacks last December. Prior to working in New York City, Ben covered climate change and energy-related issues at the federal policy level for Inside Washington Publishers, a trade publication network in Washington, DC. A graduate of Kent State University’s journalism program in 2007, Ben lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Ben can be reached at ben.breier[at]gmail[dot]com. His resume can be found here.

My last piece for Jobless and Less (Note to HR… be nice to the unemployed) detailed how two gigantic media companies are handling the hiring process during the recession. Although neither company hired me, Company Z was quick with their rejection, suggesting that I apply for another job, while Company Q dragged out the process for nearly three months, keeping me in the dark and filling me with false hope.

Moving forward, I was excited about my chances with Company Z. The HR department passed me along to a different representative, who was much younger and less experienced than the rep who handled me the first time around. She was incredibly professional in the interview (April 17). I’d hear back about a second interview by Wednesday of the following week.

So I waited in anticipation. The week went by surprisingly quickly. Not hearing anything by the promised date, I reached out to her on Thursday (April 23). She got back to me the following Monday, saying that they needed some more time. Given that Company Z actually asked for references, I just assumed that checking them was causing the delay.

Two weeks later, there was still no word about the job.  I reached out on a Monday (May 4), and the HR rep said I would “…know something within 48 hours.” That meant Wednesday or Thursday. Her precise timetable excited me. But 48 hours grew to 200+ hours. I was haunted with a familiar feeling; this felt like Company Q all over again.

The ultimate smack in the face happened came while poking around for other jobs on Company Z’s parent’s Web site. I noticed a function allowing the user to check the status of a job. The job I applied for at Company Z was closed April 28 (my birthday, coincidentally). That was almost a full week after the human resources representative told me I’d “…know something within 48 hours.” Our conversation on May 4th was just a front. They had already decided to reject me, but were likely holding out on the final “no” until the job was completely filled.

Even if the economy weren’t in shambles and prospective employees weren’t facing one of the toughest American job markets ever, this is a cruel practice. I understand the logic – Company Z wanted to keep all options open in case its lead candidate rejected the job offer. But it’s unreasonable for HR to inform candidates that they are moving forward with someone else. If I were rejected for a job and then the company came back to me later with the same job offer, I’d be ecstatic.

The lesson here? HR quality varies wildly not only from company to company, but from one HR person to another. A positive experience with an organization doesn’t guarantee another the next time around, especially dealing with a considerably less experienced rep.

I’ve yet to receive final word from Company Z.

Ben can be reached at ben.breier[at]gmail[dot]com. His resume can be found here.

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7 Comments

  1. underemployed wrote:

    There has been a shift to the “overqualified” conundrum as well… I have noticed that I am NOW being rejected by jobs that I am very well qualified to do in preference for candidates that were making 50k PLUS in their last job. I am at a entry level job NOW (I met my counterpart this week – no experience, no skills, no education, etc.). I have gone on about 10 interviews this year so far, and the candidates that are being hired are director, regional types OVERQUALIFIED FOR THAT POSITION. I am starting my career ALL over again. I am making way less than I was 10 years ago! Thats the reality of whats out there. I still cant afford my mortgage no matter how great I am at budgeting. I am paying all my bills but my mortgage because I am not at the income level I was approved for…thanks. EMPLOYEES ARE ON SALE WOOT! HALF PRICE.

    Friday, May 15, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink
  2. BigDaddyCool wrote:

    I’m starting to think that instead of trying to find work as an Admin Assist I should start looking at breaking into HR myself. From all of the horror stories I hear about how people are being treated I know I would be able to do a better job of treating an applicant with respect.

    Monday, May 18, 2009 at 7:32 pm | Permalink
  3. Barbara wrote:

    Hang in there! Love from me.

    Monday, May 18, 2009 at 10:28 pm | Permalink
  4. Ben wrote:

    @ BigDaddyCool – I’d love to break into HR. From a journalism perspective, the two jobs are actually somewhat similar, and contain a basis of developing miniature, independent relationships with people that only exist for a short period of time – unless they become constant sources.

    And, an update: Company Z rejected me. Did I get the no from them? Of course not – I had to ask a friend of mine who works in a same department if they had hired someone for the position.

    Her answer: “Yes, a week ago.”

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 10:07 am | Permalink
  5. retired at 24 wrote:

    Globalisation sucks !

    Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Permalink
  6. Frustrated wrote:

    Though I hate that these things are happening to others, I’m relieved to know that it’s not me! I have repeatedly been through these situations.
    One position I interviewed for never got back to me after some awesome feedback from the first interview. They said, I’d know in 14 days…again, in June… and just found out through LinkedIn post that the job was filled in.
    Another contract position has been in the works since February. Paper work signed and just waiting for SOW from whoever. They contacted me every week to make sure I’m still available – just in case they get the final sig. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, they stopped calling – no explanation, no apologies, nothing!

    Will someone tell these people that even the unemployed have feelings?

    Sunday, June 7, 2009 at 10:30 pm | Permalink
  7. blah wrote:

    Sometimes I feel that HR people are actually tools of satan who likes to play shits and giggles at our expense. I know how you feel. I’ve waited 3 months for this company to tell the final ‘no’.

    Friday, July 17, 2009 at 12:41 am | Permalink

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