Internal candidate

For the past two weeks, I was ready to throw in the towel. To absolutely give up on my job search.

I recently found out I need to have surgery, and it requires a six-week recovery period. I imagined getting a call for a job that I really wanted, then having to tell them I was about to go under the knife. And that I would be out of commission for about two months.

Say what you want about the legalities of the situation, I know employers just wouldn’t be anxious to make me an offer.

I started feeling hopeless, and wondered if I should just suspend my whole job search for a few months until I am fully recovered. That, on top of a 15-month fruitless job search, and I was ready to roll over.

But then I saw an intriguing job post … at the place I work!

Without giving away too much, this new job would be a significant shift for me … but would highlight skills that I hone outside of work. I have a hobby that utilizes the specific skill set required for this position. I still can’t believe it.

I should add, this would be a significant promotion.

To make things even better, the position reports directly to the company’s vice president. I feel comfortable saying we get a long quite nicely. We’re even Facebook friends, and she has a fondness for my pet pics.

The company has launched a national search, but I do know being an internal candidate would have distinct advantages … specifically having a keen understanding of the corporate culture and politics.

So after six weeks of not looking — I took an unexpected holiday break from sending out applications — I took the plunge and tossed my resume into the mix.

The posting remains open until about mid-February; after that I expect to be contacted for a interview. At the very least, this will be an opportunity for me to speak with the vice president about my aspirations with the company, and my hope for upward trajectory.

Of course, it would be incredibly ironic if I found a better, more challenging job at the same company that I wanted to leave because I felt left behind.

Crazier things have happened.

Changing landscape

Almost two months to the day that I interviewed for a job, I finally got an answer.

I saw the position was posted again on Indeed.com.

I blinked. Hard.

I checked my email.

Nothing.

The blood drained from my face, as I tried to make sense of it all. I had already made peace with the idea that I probably didn’t get the job. But I expected a call, or at least an email. Something to say, Thanks, but no thanks.

The whole situation made me realize how much the employment landscape had changed since the last time I looked for a job. But really, is it ever OK to let a candidate find out they didn’t get the job by simply advertising for the position again?

I found this cheap, and lazy. I had taken the interview seriously. After all, they made a big deal of contacting me within hours of receiving my resume, then bringing me in for an interview 24 hours later. I had to take a half-day off work at the last minute to make it all come together.

I gave them a spiffy portfolio, and followed up with a letter and additional information that they requested.

I should have known something was up when the hiring manager didn’t take my call on the day he asked me to follow up. I finally tracked him down through email four days later, and he replied with a terse: “Thanks. Still in the throws (sic) of first round interviews.  jb”

Nice. I won’t even point out that “first round” should be hyphenated. Oh. Sorry.

So I replied with something sweet, and ever-patient. Then I waited again. For a month. Then I saw the job posting.

I decided to send another email, and acted like I had not seen the job advertisement.

John,

I hope the holidays treated you well! Now that we are into the new year, I thought I would check in on the interview process for the editor position at (business name). The last time we spoke you said you were still in the midst of first-round interviews, which I assumed meant I was still in the running. A status update would be greatly appreciated.
 
I look forward to hearing from you and continuing on in the candidacy for this position.
 
Best,
(me)

At this point, two weeks have passed with no response. I’m not hopeful. My friends say I should keep emailing him until he gives me an answer. I know he’s out of line, but I don’t want to be a pill. It’s a fine line to walk.

Perhaps the landscape has changed enough that there’s no professionalism left in hiring. All I have is 25 years of experience, stellar references and a big ol’ wet fish to the face. It’s clear this guy had no respect for me, or the work that I do.

It’s probably for the better. I wouldn’t want to work for a schmuck like this anyway.

Holiday drought

The holidays can be a tough time of year, especially for those of us who are searching for a new job.

To make matters worse, the harsh reality is that some job opportunities simply fall through the cracks in this season.

I’m pretty sure that’s what happened with a recent job prospect. Shortly before Thanksgiving, I was brought in for an in-person interview. It went well. I followed up two weeks later, as requested, and it took almost a week to get a vague “you’re still in the queue” response. Fast forward to the Christmas holidays and I’m still treading water.

It’s not looking good.

For the most part, I’ve given up any hope of them contacting me again. Of course, that won’t stop me from obsessively refreshing my email for the first two weeks of January, hoping the hiring manager will reach out to offer a second interview.

This holiday drought is brutal.

If you have any doubts about things slowing down this time of year, check the job boards. Postings have dwindled in the last week, and I have not had any new listings in my searches for several days. In fact, I’ve applied to just two jobs in all of December. Both are senior-level positions that I am insanely qualified for.

I have yet to hear from either one.

The slowdown is understandable. And those of us who are looking this time of year have stumbled upon dumb luck. The big questions: Will they remember us once the new year arrives? Will our resumes rise to the top? Will our names ring familiar?

Time will tell.

That job looks great! Wait, it’s an internship?

Yesterday my boyfriend emailed me a job posting.

I saw a keyword that piqued my interest, and I dove directly into the job description.

My heart started beating faster. It was perfect. It described my current job, along with a list of other duties that I either knew how to do or could figure out easily. I was eager to send in an application, and scrolled to the top to reread the job title.

I couldn’t believe what I saw.

It was an internship. Unpaid, at that.

He sent it as a joke.

And the joke was on me.

Sometime in the economic downturn, corporations started hiring mountains of interns instead of paying for qualified, educated, experienced people to fill those jobs. The tradeoff is insurmountable.

There’s no denying college interns bring with them an intoxicating energy and drive. And internships can provide an important part of the educational experience. But replacing full-time employees with interns is simply bad business. Leaning on them is dangerous, given the atrocious learning curve, high turnover and lack of institutional knowledge.

This morning I came across a job posting in my field that targeted interns. It listed no less than 34 (!!!) bulleted job duties. Clearly, some were intern-oriented skills (like setting up tables at job fairs) but others clearly were not.

My current place of employment relies heavily upon interns. My observation is that it takes a while to get them all up to speed, then we lose them (and their knowledge) at the end of the term. I’d much rather trade four or five interns for a full-time employee (or even a talented part-time one at that).

In the meantime, I may consider going back to school.

I hear the internship opportunities are amazing.

Upward trajectory

So, I love my job.

It’s secure, great benefits and even better pay. I even like my coworkers.

Also my boss is quite possibly the best and most nurturing manager of my 25-year career.

The question is obvious. Why am I looking?

I’ve been in the same position for almost eight years, and at this point I could do my job perfectly while watching “Housewives of Atlanta” reruns. The greater problem is that there’s no upward trajectory. And believe me, I’ve tried.

There’s currently no opportunities in my division. Also, in the last year I’ve applied to five departments at my company, and didn’t even receive a courtesy interview. I’ve given this much thought, and I believe even though my reputation is sterling (accompanied by sparkling annual reviews), that my job title is not perceived as high-ranking enough.

So if I can’t move up from within, I must look to outside employment.

It’s been weird. Containing my excitement when I get an interview offer. Slowly introducing new interview outfits to my work clothing repertoire. Reminding myself I’m a short-timer when the shit occasionally does hit the fan at the office.

I’m ready for a change. And in my mid-40s, I’m convinced this is the time to pounce.

I really don’t want to get pigeon-holed into my current position, and become that “65-year-old lady who’s been in that same mid-level job for 30 years.”

I have aspirations. I have dreams. And most importantly, I’m ready to move on.

To do this, I must leave the comfort of my nest.

Bait and switch

While conducting my daily stroll through internet job boards, I saw the financial industry job I interviewed for was posted again.

The company was fast and furious about talking with me, then in a sudden turn of events decided there were other candidates with the specific experience they were seeking. Apparently those candidates didn’t have what they were looking for either.

What really caught my eye about the reposting is that it was through a headhunting company that solicits resumes from poor schleps who actually pay for the opportunity to submit an application. This kills me. Instead of charging the corporation that most likely has the money to pay for the search, it requires applicants, some of whom are unemployed, to shell out cash for the honor of sending in a resume.

You pay for the right to be fast-tracked to the hiring managers, but it seems like it takes money from people who may not have the extra cash … all for a chance at an interview that most likely won’t ever come.

I know because I applied to a job through this company about six months ago. In exchange for a $5 fee (paltry to some, but a meal for me) I was guaranteed a personal candidate manager, direct contact from the company’s hiring manager and the illusion of a real chance at getting the job providing that my resume was accurate. It even boasted a $1,000 hiring bonus.

It sounded like a great deal. But the reality was more like this: A barrage of emails asking nonsensical questions like “Have you been hired yet?” Hmm. I don’t know. You’re the recruiter. You tell me!! “Has anyone from the hiring company contacted you?” No. Did they say they wanted to meet with me? Does this mean I have an interview?

Carrots like this were endlessly dangled in front of my hungry eyes. I started to get frustrated. I told the recruiter I felt like the setup was a bait and switch, and she assured me that the hiring company would be in touch soon.

This went on for weeks.

Finally I received this message:

Hi XXX,

I hope you are doing well and the move is going well! Thank you so much for being an active part of the (headhunter company name) community! I just spoke with my account manager and I’m sorry to tell you that the (hiring company) has decided to pursue other candidates. They didn’t give a reason otherwise I’d share it with you.

Please continue to use (headhunter company name.com) as your go to job platform! Let me know if there is anything I can help you with.

Best,
Susan

I was shocked to receive this email for many reasons. First, I was supremely qualified for this position, and was amazed I didn’t even get a look-see. Second, I wasn’t moving. Did she send this note to the wrong person?

It ends up I was right. There was a second candidate who also had my name.

The bottom line was easy to read: I still didn’t have the job.

Reckoning day?

After two-and-a-half weeks, the day of reckoning had arrived.

I would finally call the hiring manager, as he requested, to see if I would move on in the interview process.

I debated the perfect time to call. I thought 9 a.m. might come across as too needy. 3 p.m.? No sense of urgency. After consulting with my boyfriend, I settled upon 9:30 a.m.

When my reminder alarm went off (like I would actually forget!!!) I moved to a quiet spot and dialed the number. I got voicemail.

Not knowing the right thing to do, I quickly hung up, and went back to work. I waited an hour, then dialed once more. Voicemail again.

I didn’t know if he was notified of missed calls, so I didn’t want to risk leaving a long electronic trail of hang-ups. I had to make a decision. So I called back and left him a message saying I was calling as he had requested, and that he could reach me on my cell.

It was busy at work, and the day had flown by before I realized the hiring manager never called.

Of course this happened on a Friday, leading into a true weekend cliff-hanger.

I tried to divine what all of this meant. Did this reflect a change in the job-seeking industry? Did he decide I made a fatal flaw during the interview process? Did he ever plan on contacting me, or was he going to wish I would quickly fade away?

I’m holding onto the hope that he was called out of the office on Friday, and will sheepishly call Monday, begging for forgiveness as he offers a second interview.

It could happen.