It’s a daily occurrence in our profession that people don’t call us back when we’ve been trying to help them. I’m not complaining about it, because I would’ve gotten out of this profession 48 years ago if it really bothered me that much. It’s sadder than it is anything else. And it’s kind of a shame that we treat each other that way.

The biggest issue regarding courtesy is hiring or interviewing authorities returning calls from candidates to let them know that they are no longer being considered for the position, or that someone else was hired, or nothing happened at all. This is probably one of the most frustrating, if not, the most frustrating experiences that, especially candidates, as well as hiring authorities (recruiters also), go through. Us recruiters get used to it and don’t take it personally. We realize that as Teilhard de Chardin writes, we’re all “spiritual beings acting human.”

I’m not trying to make excuses for this kind of lack of courtesy. But how much effort does it take for an interviewing or hiring authority to pick up the phone and, at least, leave a message that their call was appreciated, but the organization is going to go in another direction? It’s so very easy to do. It doesn’t take much of an investment, and certainly doesn’t take much time.

Ninety eight percent of the time interviewing or hiring authorities just plain don’t return calls or emails or texts to candidates they are not going to hire. I’ve never quite figured out why it’s so hard to do and why people don’t do it. The vast majority of the time, job seekers are already experiencing emotional distress. Looking for a job, even if you have one, is an emotional strain. And then to be “rejected” by simply being ignored is simply discourteous.

Interviewing and hiring authorities aren’t the only people that do this kind of thing. I can’t tell you the number of candidates that I’ve interviewed over the years, gotten them an interview within one or two days of when they visited with me, call them numerous times, only to have them never call me back (until, of course, they need me again). I realize that we are in the kind of business that when people need us, they really need us, and when they don’t, they just don’t. Okay, fine! But how hard is it to pick up the phone or write an email or text me and simply state that you don’t need me anymore. No problem.

This is more of an observation that it is a complaint. Complaining about this won’t do any good. I’m also convinced that making an observation about it isn’t going to change the fact that most people are going to continue to do what they do. I’m not sure that this lack of courtesy is intentional. In fact, if you ask most people, “do you like being rude?”, very few people would tell you that they do. And wouldn’t it be nice if we all did everything we were supposed to do. We are not talking about saving the whales here. We’re simply talking about courtesy of informing a hopeful job candidate who thinks he or she has done well on an interview and is being considered for a job that they are no longer in consideration. It doesn’t even need to be a phone call. It could be a text or an email. But simply ignoring people and not responding to them in any way, just is not very nice.

A number of years ago, I presented a candidate…a rather perfect candidate…  to a prospective employer. It was a vice presidency’s position and carried a $200,000 base salary. My candidate had been one of my clients and had lost his job due to a restructuring. VP jobs are not easy to find and he had been out of work for about three months. On paper, he was absolutely perfect for the job. When I presented him to the hiring Executive Vice President, he started laughing. He explained to me that he wouldn’t hire my candidate if he was the last candidate on earth. After a pregnant pause, he explained to me that a few years earlier, the roles were reversed. My client had been looking for a job, interviewed with the fellow who was now my candidate, and claimed that he had been totally ignored. The now hiring authority claimed he called my candidate numerous times, emailed him a few times and never heard anything from my candidate. According to the now hiring authority,  this took place after a seemingly splendid two-hour interview where the now Executive Vice President was told he was a “perfect” candidate and that he should expect to hear from my now, candidate’s company immediately. And then nothing!

I know that I don’t return every call to everyone who I work with… especially candidates.  But I try to make it clear to everyone that I work with in the beginning that I won’t be able to return every call. All it means is that I haven’t found them an interview. But I am sure that there are lots of candidates out there with whom I did not make that clear. For that, I apologize.

Again, getting upset about this kind of thing that goes on does not do any good. But if a gentle reminder to be courteous nudges just one person to return a call, this was worth writing.