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Answers to Four of the Most Frustrating Job Search Issues

Job hunting is usually a hugely frustrating process, requiring tremendous effort and persistence often with little or no reward for months. Below are some explanations, and suggestions for overcoming the frustration that can sap your energy and lead to despondency and getting stuck. 

1. “I’ve sent out dozens, if not hundreds of resumes and have only received acknowledgment from a handful of organizations to which I’ve applied. Why am I not hearing back from the vast majority? Should I follow up to make sure the resume was received?”

If you are applying online (through an organization or job website) for low to mid-level jobs your resume is probably one out of fifty or a hundred or five hundred received. While common courtesy would suggest that a message be sent to you acknowledging receipt, as was the practice as recently as a few years ago, this is no longer the case for most organizations. Here’s a revealing tidbit: a research organization prepared a tailored resume for a fictional job seeker, "Charles Brown," and submitted it to open positions at every company on Fortune's 2012 list of the Best Companies to Work For. It found that only 28 percent of the companies even bothered to notify Brown that he didn't get the job. And that's the record of the BEST companies. While not excusing the poor judgment that this exhibits, hiring managers are very firmly ensconced in the driver’s seat post-Great Recession and are simply not very concerned with turning applicants off, as there are so many to choose from. 

In addition, if you've applied for a job without meeting all of the required qualifications it could be reasonably argued that you don'e "deserve" a response (although a truly customer-focused organization would send one anyway).

I would suggest that you not waste your time with a follow-up, unless you can do so through a personal connection. But of course if you have that personal connection you would have been well advised to submit the resume through him/her rather than online. It's disheartening not to hear back from a potential employer, so in order to avoid further disappointment let the matter drop.

2. "I've been told, after an interviewing process that went on for weeks, that I am the ideal candidate for the position, and that an offer will be forthcoming 'by the end of the week.' But I then hear nothing, and none of my emails or phone calls are returned. What's up with that, and what can I do about it?"

Inexcusable behavior, but I am amazed at how often I hear this kind of story. Often the position wound up being filled internally (perhaps for less money), or as a result of the selection process the organization wound up rethinking the position, or there may be some political reason (protecting internal organizational fiefdoms, employee rivalries), or the budget for the position may have disappeared, or the proper top management clearances were not secured prior to the interviewing process. Furthermore, HR or the individual who told you that you'd be receiving an offer is in an awkward spot, and may not have the cojones to "'fess up."Whichever may be the case, you have been led on and badly mistreated. If you've made several unsuccessful attempts to connect with no response, drop it. If the organzation was ready to hire you they would have. If you're in the mood to exact some revenge, you might think about posting about the way you were treated on glassdoor.com. Might that disqualify you from later consideration by the firm for another position? Probably. But you should think long and hard about going to work for an organization that treats people in such a disrespectful manner.

3. “Why is there no salary range on so many job postings? How can I get that information“

When there is no salary information in a job description it suggests that the organization is doing some “fishing,” hoping to find a qualified candidate at the lowest possible cost. Again, the surfeit of applicants encourages this behavior. As soon as you are able to communicate with someone at that organization who is involved in the hiring process, ask for the salary range. You may then encounter the question “How much did you earn at your last job?” Don’t answer it. Respond instead with “My salary requirement is from _____ to ______, and once I'm hired I will demonstrate to you that I am worth even more." Also, don't overlook Glassdoor.com and Salary.com, where salaries for positions at various firms are often indicated.

4.”I’m not having any luck with this job hunting process. I’ve contacted several recruiters and temp agencies asking for assistance in my search but I’m not finding anyone who is willing to take me on. Why is that?“

Again, it’s a buyer’s market. Other than positions at the top of the organizational chart, or positions that require an unusual combination of qualities or skills (e.g. a top secret clearance with fluency in Russian), it’s simply not worth it for a recruiter or temp agency to expend effort trying to find a slot for you, since with so many applicants to choose from, an organization is not going to want to pay a 30% to a recruiter or temp agency fee to identify candidates.

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