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Job seekers deserve follow-up

During the past several months, I've connected with nearly 200 companies. (Yes, I'm currently in the midst of a job search.)

For the most part, the people I've met with have been wonderful. They've provided information and followed up as they promised. Many provided new leads and resources, despite not being the right fit. And some even offered constructive input to help improve my presentation.

They've got the 'employer brand' concept down pat. They understand that how they treat anyone interested enough in their organization to submit a rŽsumŽ directly affects their reputation not only internally, but on the street. These are the companies I mention to other people as really positive environments to look into.

This, however, is the story of three organizations that could be great but instead are dropping the ball at the front door. They don't get it.

What they have in common with regard to the way they recruit people is a lack of understanding of employer brand.

Before I go on, I'll advocate for the human resources people out there. It's a buyer's market. HR departments are under siege anytime an opening is listed. It's completely acceptable not to follow up in person with everyone who sends in a rŽsumŽ. There's nothing wrong with a form letter or postcard. It sets expectations for both parties.

But I'm talking about when you've met with a candidate in person. Common courtesy and professionalism Ñ at least the way I was taught Ñ dictate that when you've met with a candidate, regular communication and following through on commitments with regard to dates and times are a given.

Even if that communication is 'We're not interested' or 'There's been no progress,' this is how professionals do it. They make a commitment to follow up and provide a relatively quick indication of interest or lack thereof. Neither party loses anything: The job seeker loses no time in moving on to other opportunities, and the hiring/rejecting organization loses no respect from the job seeker. It might even result in positive word of mouth for that organization!

On average, the three companies took no fewer than 75 days to render a decision Ñ and that only after having been virtually pried loose from it.

They consistently committed to responding within 'a day or two,' 'by next week' or 'very quickly.' Instead É 75 days! Contacts made countless commitments to personally call back with an update and failed to do so. They stated on voice mails that if I left a message, they would respond 'as soon as possible,' 'within 24 hours' or 'when I return to my desk.'

Now, I'm not so impressed with myself that I expect to be at the top of anyone's priorities. But I do expect common courtesy. I expect that when someone says he or she will call me back, it will happen within a reasonable time, even if it's not exactly when the person said it would be. If that commitment can't be delivered, it shouldn't be promised.

Maybe something along the lines of 'I'll return your call based on priority/need. If I don't call, please try me again in the next few days. Thank you,' would be a better voice message. It sets a realistic expectation, including the possibility that my call won't be returned. Life happens. Sometimes things come up. I understand that. But 75 days!

Based on my experiences with these three companies, I wonder how people inside these organizations are dealt with. Better, I hope.

The result of my experiences with these companies is that they've lost a valuable evangelist in the building of their employer brand. As things stand, if I were approached by someone and asked what I thought about these firms, my response wouldn't be flattering. If a friend told me he or she was considering a job offer with any of these companies, I'd tell him or her to turn it down and run, don't walk, toward the light.

Something as simple as offering respect and common courtesy shouldn't be a 'nice to have' quality in any organization. It should be a requirement.

Drew Zagorski is looking for a job in marketing; he attended the -Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. He lives in Beaverton.