Candidates: How to Avoid the “Maybe” File

Career Blog

HR officer searching resume in stack of papers, preparing documents for meetingRecruiters get flooded with applicants even during times of low unemployment. To keep up, many organizations have implemented applicant tracking systems that enable frantic HR staff to at least issue form letter rejections to those candidates who clearly miss the mark. Receiving one can be disheartening, but at least you know where you stand. Perhaps a more frustrating predicament is when a company goes radio silent.

Timing is often the rationale for the delay. For example, you may have applied after the initial round of interviews started and thus, you’ll only get a call if the first batch of applicants flop. Other reasons for your resume entering the abyss of the maybe file include:

  1. Your salary requirements call for a budget stretch the hiring manager is not yet ready to request.
  2. You’re missing a key skill that would require additional training.
  3. An internal candidate emerged, and company culture dictates they consider that person before moving to external options.
  4. The organization is experiencing an unforeseen change in structure, leadership, budget, etc. that causes a hiring freeze.

Intellectually candidates would understand these and other explanations…assuming they were actually provided, but most staffing professionals have neither the time nor authority to provide that level of transparency. Too often organizations sacrifice their talent brand on the altar of confidentiality, increasing candidate anxiety in the process.

While you may never know for sure why you’re not hearing back, you can take steps to investigate the issue. LinkedIn has it made it easier to connect with second line contacts who may know the score and you can always try going direct to the hiring manager. Just make sure your persistence doesn’t cross the line into stalking.

Of course, the best strategy for avoiding the purgatory of maybe land is to only chase roles that legitimately match your skills and experience. With any luck you’ll earn a handful of offers and can create little maybe file of your own.

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