Recruiting has changed. In the September 27, 2016 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a job applicant responds to a posting and gets a call from the cops.

Is this recruiting?

recruiting-welcomeEmployers are so out of it that they’re not only putting up digital roadblocks against people they’re trying to attract — such as online application forms and video interviews — now they’re hiding in bunkers, barring the doors, and calling the cops on earnest job applicants.

A reader found this stunning episode on an Indeed discussion forum:

I recently applied to a job on Indeed and sent a follow up e-mail a few days later. About a week passed with no response, and I sent another e-mail, saying I would come by their office. They quickly sent a response saying they no longer had a position available. Twenty minutes later I got a phone call from the police. They complained that I threatened and harassed them. I denied it, and the cop said to not contact them again. The whole thing is almost unbelievable. I hate applying for jobs.


Why doesn’t this employer just keep an armed guard posted at the door?

When you find a job posting online, can you get arrested for showing up in person at a company to apply? I’m not a lawyer, and I won’t touch that question, but such conflicted behavior and mixed signals sent by employers reveal just how dysfunctional recruiting has become.

Applying through the front door

More than once, I walked into companies I wanted to work for and gave my resume to a receptionist. Sometimes a manager would come out to talk to me. Or a personnel clerk would appear briefly. When no one appeared, I’d chat up the receptionist, collect some company literature to educate myself, and go home. Worst case, I’d write the employer off. On to the next.

If employers are afraid of who comes in the front door, why are they recruiting? Why are they in business? What if a customer shows up unannounced? Does the sales department send in its dogs?

WTF, indeed. I know many people who have taken the time and trouble to go to an employer’s office to demonstrate how serious they are about getting a job. But recruiters have so dehumanized job applicants they’re trying to attract that they no longer know how to welcome them.

Hiding from the applicants

Employers solicit such staggering numbers of people that they’re are afraid of who appears. The only way to process the incoming rush is to dehumanize and render people into database morsels. (See “How HR optimizes rejection of millions of job applicants.”) And to hide.

recruiting-barricadeThis cannot be reconciled with the idea that an employer is trying to attract you. When you’re an abstraction in a database — a mess of keywords — the assumption is that you’re to be avoided and feared, either as a waste of time or, in this case, as a physical threat.

Lest someone suggest it’s inappropriate to show up at a company after submitting a resume, keep in mind that at some point you’ll be invited for an interview at a bricks-and-mortar office that has a front door. If the front door is a locked bunker, then the job applicant who posted that story would likely just walk away — probably disgruntled. But if the front door is open for business, then it’s no more inappropriate for a job applicant to show up than it is for a customer to show up to buy something.

Recruiting from the panic room

So what does this incident mean? We must assume the job applicant did nothing wrong or threatening. After all, this person was applying for a job. They want to impress the employer — not hurt anyone — hence the visit to the office. (On the flip side, does a job applicant assume a murderous psychopath has lured them to an interview?)

When an employer worries for its safety or fears who’s going to show up, that tells us there’s something fundamentally wrong with popular methods of recruiting. It’s pretty clear that the fear and worry stem from soliciting teeming hordes of applicants that employers don’t really want. Depersonalizing and demonizing them only adds to the distrust — we naturally fear the unknown.

This incident is perhaps the most stunning evidence that the online employment system companies rely on is inherently twisted and warped. (See “Employment In America: WTF is going on?”) This job seeker’s experience reveals a panic-room mentality, where employers huddle and hide behind locked doors and impenetrable applicant tracking systems. It highlights one recruiting perversion after another:

  • Advertise a healthy work environment — but reveal your company’s paranoid culture.
  • Proclaim a desire to find great people — but treat applicants like they’re psychopathic marauders.
  • Solicit job applicants — then tell them there’s no job.
  • Open your company to the talent — then call the cops when the talent arrives.
  • Talk about how people are your most important asset — but only let digital profiles and applications in the door.

The problem is not that a company called the cops on a job applicant it attracted. That’s merely a symptom. The problem is that the highly automated recruiting system our economy depends on can’t deal with people.

What kinds of contradictory messages have you gotten from employers? What’s the most bizarre experience you’ve had when applying for an advertised job?

: :

  1. Gotta wonder if the applicant should ask to see the police report. Assuming he/she did nothing wrong, the employer essentially filed a false police report. I’d be worried about this because the last thing I’d want is some false report on file that may come up later if I’m pulled over or somehow involved in an interaction with police. Prosecutor: “Why did you taser the suspect?” Cop: “We had a previous report that he made threats against a local employer, so we had reasonable suspicion that he was dangerous.”

    IANAL, but I’d definitely contact one to see if there is some way to either get this report expunged or at least get it on record that it’s contested.

    • Police will routinely try to politely de-fuse a situation without taking any official action. I doubt there’s any formal report on file, but that’s a guess. You can see more about what happened by clicking the Indeed forum link I provided.

      • This is nothing short of insane behavior AND why are the cops wasting their time??? Maybe this helps with their quota requirements to justify their existence. Who do we report employers’ bad behavior to? The same cop? This is a whole new realm of morons.

  2. “What kinds of contradictory messages have you gotten from employers?”

    The company which, at the interview, bragged about a flat structure…while showing an organization chart with six layers :D

  3. I’m irked that a private company gets to use the publicly funded police department as its private security force. Reminds me of recent public outrage at Walmart.

  4. Okay so… it was a crazy decision to call the cops but at the same time, it was not appropriate for the applicant to decide to go there in person. No one invited them to come in in person. If they wanted the applicant to show up in person then they would have contacted them and set up an interview.

    I have applied to several jobs with no response and followed up to no response as well, but I would not decide ‘They are ignoring me now so if I show up in person they will definitely notice me!!’ I know it hurts to receive no response but you have to accept it and move on. They are not interested and being there in person wouldn’t change that. And maybe it’s possible that this company has had a past experience with an aggressive, threatening applicant before and that’s what’s making them so scared.

    But you know what? This goes to show you that companies should always respond to applicants. Not responding is rude, mean, and makes applicants feel like they are unnoticed. If the employer had responded to the applicant, the applicant would not have felt like showing up in person. They caused their own problem. Please don’t say you “don’t have time.” This is important; make it a priority.

    • Agreed 100%!

    • And actually, you don’t really need to have had a specific experience along those lines with an applicant. There are plenty of fields where stalking, threats and whatnot are a painful norm, especially for women. There are plenty of individuals that have been victims of this stuff in the past, and thus have their employers on high alert even tho there’s never been an incident in the office.

      To me, this feels a lot like any number of aggressive behaviors, especially against women; sure, you didn’t mean anything by it, but if you’re gonna do it, you shouldn’t be shocked when people assume the worst.

      • I didn’t read anything “threatening” or “stalkerish” in the OP’s letter. How sad that you interpret an applicant emailing you to say, “I haven’t heard from you re the status of my application: I’m going to be in the area and I’d like to drop in”. If you’d told him he wasn’t being considered for the job, he wouldn’t have emailed and called you!!!!!

        I think if you interpret following up threatening and stalking and violence after your negligence in getting back to applicants, then you’re in the wrong line of work.

        At my last job, I handled admissions for my graduate program. People had the option of applying online, and it was very common for applicants to telephone or email me (the program office) after they had applied as they were anxious about their applications. At the time, materials arrived from the Graduate School once per week, and I’d spend most of that day doing admissions. I’d write to the applicants, letting them know I received their applications and documents, as well as what was missing. They could also log in and check the status of their application with the Grad. School, but that system didn’t work because they wouldn’t see a change of status until Grad. Program Director and I made our decisions on their applications. The official letter indicating yea or nay came from the Grad. School. When you do admissions, you have to expect calls and emails; that’s part of the job. It would have been much worse if I didn’t do any follow up, and following up with them made my job (and the program) run more smoothly. Not to follow up would have unprofessional, rude, and unmannered.

        • I never interpreted applicants who called or emailed me re their applications as pushy or violent or stalking….

          • Marybeth: That’s because you are normal, as opposed to being a third wave man-hating feminist.

    • While you can argue what the applicant did was “inappropriate,” I don’t see how it’s illegal or how it violates any reasonable rule of business etiquette. It’s not much different from unsolicited sales calls. For example, pharma sales reps show up in doctors’ offices all the time. It’s a matter of balance and letting them know they’re disturbing the office – without offending them. Because you never know when you’ll need that person to sell you pharma products or to interview for a job.

      • Sounds like paranoia is a common opinion. If so, don’t run ads.

      • That’s a good analogy, Nick. There are many instances in which people drop in, and you’re right–it is simply a matter of balance and letting them know that now is not a good time—how about after the Dr.’s last patient is done?

  5. Eh, not every company is “open for business.” The last 3 companies I’ve worked for would bee very reticent to hire someone who just showed up; it shows an enormous disrespect for people’s time. If a company is interested, they will call you.

    It’s also worth noting, in my experience, that the most aggressive candidates are rarely, if ever, the strongest. Candidates know far less about the company and position than the company does; you have plenty of space your cover letter and resume to tell me why you’re great for the job. I don’t use keywords or algorithms our whatever to screen people out, and I don’t want randos showing up at my workplace like I don’t have anything else to do today than talk to everyone that replied to a job posting.

    • “If a company is interested, they will call you. ”

      The company invited in the first place, by putting out an ad. Then they went silent. The applicant was not agressive, only sent an email telling he would be popping by; only then did they bother to tell there was no position. Who is the jerk here?

    • I agree with Karsten. It’s important to roll back the assumptions. The company publicly advertised a job. That assumes they want applicants. Like I said, if the front door is not barricaded, the presumption should be that an applicant who shows up is doing due diligence to make sure the company is real, if not to submit an application in person. Unusual? Yes. Wrong? No.

    • Actually, he sent them an email saying he was coming over, and they replied the position was no longer available. No evidence he actually went over (would you bother)?

  6. Not trying to be contradictory, but LW did not actually visit the office. He said this “I sent another e-mail, saying I would come by their office”. This prompted the police follow-up.

    • Was this in response to me or to Jasmine? I think we were both responding to the overall idea that it’s cool to show up unannounced at an employer’s, not to OP’s specific circumstances.

      • @Kimberlee, just to the Peanut Gallery in general. The LW / OP, sent an email to the company. Many seem to have confused an email with a physical, in-person visit.

        Have a great day

  7. Well, I have a couple tings going through my head:

    1) Since when do police just call a phone to a ‘suspect’? Normally it is a visit and not that quick. I’d question the validity of the police officer (if s’he was really an officer or a just a coworker down the hall) and I’d also question the validity of the applicant claiming a cop called him.

    2) Businesses are private property and have a right to refuse any and all visitors. “Customers” get removed all the time from retail establishments. Though it may seem “haha, gotcha!” to slyly forewarn that you, as an applicant, are going to invite yourself to PRIVATE PROPERTY, it comes across as a bully and disrespectful to the daily or planned operations of the business and its workforce. One cannot expect a company to be free at the drop of a dime. Obviously an opening means they are not as staffed as they need to be.

    We need to respect managers. HR is holding back applicants, managers are slow to act because they are merely advanced specialists “thanked” by leadership for tenure and shoved into manager roles. Department managers hate recruiting and would rather a candidate fall in their lap (hence the perceived locked door).

    Also, no call-back means you aren’t marketable to them, if not other employers. Desperate maneuvers (like TELLING someone YOU are coming in whether they like it or not) speak volumes on the character, professionalism, and quality of the applicant.


    • (Sorry for the typos)

    • Rhetorical questions, that Nick has brought up several times, not just on this post….

      If we’re looking to “respect time,” how come we:

      Advertise our jobs to every career board in the known universe and get God knows how many applications that are only minimally looked at by human eyes, if that?

      Have redundant job applications – i.e. all of my information is in my resume, why do I have to cut and paste it into your forms? I know companies want to keep things in the same format – but it begs the question, if you didn’t solicit hundreds or thousands of applications, this point would be moot.

      99.9% of jobs I have ever applied to never even had any sort of closure. You’d think if someone took the time to automate the submission process, that more of the rejection process would be automated too. In other words, companies invite candidates basically to call them up and “harass” them.

  8. Considering how many walls have gone up over the years (unintelligible recruiters, postings to every job board in the know universe, lack of attendance at job fairs, “go to our website” instead of looking at a resume, no mention of where the job is, much less the manager) I’m not surprised.

    @Kev M: A brief look at the Labor Force Participation Rate seems to indicate that 37.2% of the labor force is either un- or under-employed. It’s not that a candidate is not “marketable to them, if not other employers”. It’s that companies can’t hire, or couldn’t select a candidate if one *did* actually fall out of the sky into their hands.

    Truthfully, with that 37.2%, one could form and run several fine companies in the United States with American workers.


    • Odd, my companies have usually managed to hire people despite not hiring people who come into our offices unannounced. As Kev M mentions below, not all industries are labor hungry. I am not looking for someone who can just do the job, I’m looking for someone who will be exceptional at the job. And in my experience, people who are aggressive with follow-up just aren’t as good of candidates as those who aren’t. If you approach every company assuming they’re shitty in their hiring practices, then you’re probably going to filter yourself out for companies that aren’t.

      • Kimberlee: Do your companies want people who “think out of the box?”

        • We sure do! And we get tons of them through our networks and online application process. I don’t think that walking into a building shows anything different about one’s thought process or ability to be creative. Cover letters, writing and work samples, and interviews cover that base a lot better than people who follow what I tend to see as outdated advice to bug hiring managers into giving you a job.

          • ‘We sure do get people who think out of the box!! But Cover letters, writing and work samples, and interviews cover that better than showing up out of the blue’

            Wow Kim u must be a purple squirrel hunting unicorn. Only magical and amazing recruiters can forsee work samples and interviews from cover letters and cv writing. Most of us are only mortal so try not to blame anyone pushing for a face to face.

            Maybe you should just give it a try. Feel free to enlighten us all on the results. If that’s to much of a stretch, no worries we all know where your coming from.

            Just go back to sleep and dream of perfect fits.

          • It’s not necessarily bugging them for a job or outdated.

            If you are not interested, just say so. The applicant took the time to reply to your job ad.

          • Kimberlee: I appreciate your candid comments as an employer. But don’t employers bear a big part of the responsibility when they post jobs and solicit from enormous — actually, unlimited — pools of people? You must expect that when you solicit anyone and everyone, you’re going to attract people who naturally try to stand out by taking actions to stand out. Like showing up.

            Is a person who shows up by definition a bad candidate?

  9. I think the applicant must have run into a recent new hire from college who spent much of their time in a “safe room” hiding from the world.

    I just spent 8 years as a recruiter with a mfg company. It was not unusual for people to walk in and apply unannounced. It goes with the territory. Yes, it usually is disruptive. Likewise those who called or emailed and said they were going to drop by, in which case, depending on interest, we’d either schedule a visit or tell them there’s no interest.

    But…we (we = both genders) would not be insulted, or feel intimidated. Why? Because someone expressed interest in working for the company? As to expressing a desire to visit? Both are examples of follow up, and followup is good sales. And for a company seriously recruiting, that’s a positive sign, not a negative sign, that merits follow through on our end.

    As to disrespecting our time…not really. First, not that many people ever follow up in any form. And very few would do so in person. Which means we’re not talking about a lot of time. And from our viewpoint the fact that they followed up makes them interesting. And keep in mind disrespect of time is a door that swings two ways. Companies that advertise jobs, which is a invitation to communicate and then totally ignore respondents in any way (mail, phone or face/face) are being disrespectful of applicant time.

    So our policy was those who follow up, move to the head of the line, & if you take the trouble to drop by, our take the trouble of adjusting my schedule. You may have to cool your heels for awhile or leave and come back, but your follow up will be respected. Done it dozens of times.

    When you recruit, you must deal with the whole range of emotions, from enthusiastic optimism to angry frustration. The same range of emotions that current employees present on a daily basis. So even if the email or call sounds edgy, you learn to deal with it…not by calling the cops or have someone call pretending to be such, but professionally.

    • For companies that aren’t labor-hungry as manufacturing is, we need to understand a walk-in applicant at an engineering firm is not seen in the same “you saved me effort” light. Do you have experience outside of manufacturing you could relate experiences to? I’m not a recruiter nor a department manager, so my view is outside their cloud.

    • Don: Thanks for reminding us that a professional recruiter can handle an applicant who shows up in person.

      The story within the story, to me, is that the employer/recruiter involved was a greenhorn.

      • I had to Google ‘greenhorn’. I’m gonna start using that term (I had never heard it used before).

        • Kev M: “Greenhorn” is a great word. Very descriptive. I probably use it too much when describing some of the HR people who are deployed to deal with job applicants.

          I see greenhorns most often when a company attends a job fair. They used to send hiring managers. Then, to save money, they sent HR people. When all HR did was tell attendees to go online and fill out an application, job fairs turned into silly cattle calls. It’s the low-cost way to recruit. Then they started sending inexperienced HR clerks — greenhorns. Now job fairs are totally worthless.

  10. I’d like to share this bit from another blog (topic wast fake jobs being posted so companies can sell applicants’ personal data to the highest bidder) referring to an ep of Dr. Phil (whom I absolutely detest) — “I saw an afternoon talk show the other day where the sanctimonious host lectured a frustrated job seeker who pointed this out: “Maaaybe it’s time to get seeeerious about this and think outside the box: after you fill out the application online why not stop by the company to introduce yourself and add that personal touch?”

    As the blogger pointed out, many companies don’t have traditional reception areas anymore. You’re usually greeted by a security officer who will promptly ask whom you are here to meet and demand your driver’s license. If you don’t have an appointment, you’re shown the door. Yet, everyone continues to preach this “pay them a visit” advice; I even heard it at my local unemployment office — “you gotta stand out from the crowd! show initiative!”

    What a contradictory world in which we live.

    (Nick, I’d love to see you go on Dr. Phil and give him a dose of reality. It drives me buggers every time he yells that “GET A JOB!” nonsense…)

    • If I applied to a company in my locale whose name I didn’t recognize, and it was easy to drive over to check it out, I’d absolutely do that. It’s just prudent due diligence. I find the fuss astonishing. A company advertises a job and there’s something wrong with an applicant who shows up to check things out?

      Me, I’d invite them in to talk!

      • Maybe they aren’t looking for a motivated applicant.

      • Well, I’ll take that even farther.

        My former employer was in an office park. Also in the office park was a recruiting agency, that mainly did technology recruiting.

        Let’s just say that this company used Indian call centers to do the preliminary reach out to people/screening. Instead of having your lackey’s call me, I could literally take the elevator to your office.

    • Sighmaster, that’s true re many companies not having traditional reception areas any longer. In 1998, I worked for a large insurance company in Northern Connecticut. They didn’t have a receptionist, though there was a switchboard, but you really had to know who you were calling. The site was so big that they employed private security; when I went for my interview, I was stopped by security, who asked me why I was there and who I was meeting. They called the woman I was to meet, who confirmed that I was there fore legit. reasons, and they sent me on my way. She had to meet me in a general lounge area as I would have never found her cubicle, not without asking people and leaving a trail of breadcrumbs so I could find my way out. I was hired, and after a while the security guys recognized me (or my car). But others often needed to get in–delivery men, clients, etc. Delivery men just drop in–there’s no schedule, and they deliver your orders when they’re ready. If someone has a medical emergency and 991 is called, they don’t have appointments either. If there’s a fire, the same…I know that my examples are not exactly on point, but even when companies generally don’t take drop-ins, there are still exceptions.

      I do see your point, but I still think the employer got paranoid over nothing and over reacted.

      • Oh, I know they did, I was only pointing out the whole “damned if you do / damned if you don’t” way of things these days. Common sense and good salesmanship tell you to go “pound the pavement” and do what the OP almost did. My experience tells me that I won’t get past the security guards. (The Dr. Phil bit ticked me off because according to him at the end of the day it’s always the job seeker’s fault for not getting hired.)

        • Sighmaster, I stopped watching Dr. Phil long ago when started competing with Jerry Springer for the crazies to get viewers and ratings. I think it is very easy to be critical and blame the job seeker for not getting hired when you’re employed. Usually it takes facing some adversity to develop some empathy for others re job hunting.

    • “Most companies… have security to show you the door” – the employer landscape is not just corporate, large companies, etc. It’s a chaos of large and small and in between. There are many without all the formal barricades, with reception areas, and without. Point is, don’t be the sort who sits at home believing all the “you can’t do that” messages. Many recruiters will have you believe they are the only golden highway to the employer’s golden throne. And they will often treat you with disdain no matter what. But yes lives in the land of no.

  11. I’m female and I do not understand this shock and fear over a job applicant stopping into a presumably private building open to the public. I would welcome the chance to informally face-to-face evaluate a potential applicant personally or through a receptionist if I was busy. I always ask for receptionist impressions of applicants. Stopping in shows a level of interest beyond being able to click a mouse button one extra time to send one extra resume out.

    And if it was a bad time, or if visitors are not welcome, why not just email back? I’m highly skeptical that police would respond so promptly and via a phone call.

    This applicant dodged a bullet, not the other way around. There’s nothing wrong with stopping in to a private business that has a reception function. In that situation, you can’t expect to speak to hiring manager at the drop of a hat, but you can make an inquiry, gather literature, evaluate the “face” of the company and see how visitors are welcomed. And just maybe the manager will have a minute.

  12. As far as “What kinds of contradictory messages have you gotten from employers? What’s the most bizarre experience you’ve had when applying for an advertised job?” goes, many years ago I interviewed with a national firm for an Electrical Engineer position. It started out in the usual fashion, with a woman from HR explaining the benefits package and background. Then she began to ask very technical questions, which I found odd. Eventually it dawned on me that I wasn’t going to meet the hiring manager, and that the technical interview would be conducted by a person who had no knowledge of the skills required. I immediately wrote off the interview in my mind, but stayed to the end to see how it would go.

    At one point she asked, “What do you think of your present company as a whole?”

    I responded, “I couldn’t agree more.” (You might have to say that one out loud.)

    She looked very puzzled for a moment, then went on with the questions. A few minutes later, she burst into laughter, and said, “Oh, I get it!”

    I have to thank the company for letting me know right there at the interview it was not a place to work. And I’m left with my favorite interview story that I’ve told many times.

  13. In my experience, attorneys or the “esq” by someone’s name, really dislike when clients or job applicants come to the office uninvited. So the poster who wrote not to show up uninvited doesn’t surprise me. Lots of years working for attorneys here! They make the receptionist lie that they are out of the office or in a meeting. The worst interviews I have ever had involve attorneys. One grilled me about my degree and work experience in a hauty manner like I was lacking in every way but then told me he was replacing his newest hire at her 90 day mark cause it was mutual decision to terminate her. That told me all I need to know!! Another told me he can’t understand why the help calls in sick all the time, was late, etc. and the pay was $10 an hour. I decided in the interview I didn’t want either of these jobs!!!!

  14. In regards to the comments about someone dropping by, isn’t that part of what a good sales person does?

    I’ve had sales people literally show up unannounced. It’s no big deal. Most times, they’re going to be able to do nothing more than drop off some literature and a card. Maybe someone will have a few minutes to talk in the lobby. Maybe (just maybe) the sales person will be in the right place at the right time, and someone will invite the sales person in. Most of the time, nothing will happen beyond the literature drop. But good sales people are grown up boys and girls and know how to handle rejection.

    So, what type of sales person do you want working for your company? One who’s out there respectfully knocking on doors or one who just sits at a desk, sends out emails, and says, “Well, no one emailed me back so I guess I’m done for the day”? What type of employee in any position do you want working for you? One who makes the effort to get stuff done, or one who just fires off emails or reports and calls it a day?

    If someone says he or she will drop by and you don’t want that, just say so. “Thanks, but there is no need for you to drop by. We have your resume/application on file and will let you know if we’ll move forward with you on the position.” No need to call the police. And if the person does show up, repeat what you said and be done with it. If the person doesn’t leave then, then you can call the police.

    • Not every position is client-facing or sales. Some employers (like mine) have Federal contracts that do not allow the general public to just enter.
      It is OKAY for an employer to be standoffish about a stranger saying they will just come in because their application hasn’t been responded to within a week.

      • This! There’s a reason that salespeople are stereotyped as being the most irritating, pushy people in the world. If it’s not a sales postion, then that is absolutely not the kind of person I want filling it (and, frankly, I think that there’s something wrong in the sales profession that it selects for traits that many find to be pushy, aggressive, irritating, and worse. Having dealt with too many salespeople who have lied to my face to close, I don’t typically buy goods or services from people who start with anything other than kindness, transparency and, preferably, an email.)

        • Isn’t easy enough to say to the surprise visitor, respectfully, “Thanks for visiting, but I’m afraid we don’t interview people without an appointment. But I’d be glad to take your resume and give you an application form to fill out.”

          Why this presumption that the visitor is aggressive, pushy or irritating? There’s no evidence in the OP’s story to suggest this.

        • Here’s the reason that attorneys are stereotyped as being the most irritating, pushy people in the world. If it’s a sales postion, then that is absolutely the kind of person I want filling it (and, frankly, I think that there’s something wrong in the legal profession that it selects for traits that many find to be pushy, aggressive, irritating, and worse. Having dealt with too many attorneys who have lied to my face for no other reason than to dominate a conversation, I don’t pay much respect to people who start with anything other than kindness, truth and transparency.)

          Kimberly, your prose needs work.
          This version reads better. Resubmit please.

          • Bingo!

          • Are you trying to take a clever jab at me by spelling my name wrong and assuming I’m an attorney or work in law? Because both are fails on your part.

      • The job candidate wasn’t going to show up unannounced in this case, so that is a non sequitur.

        The reason people follow up the way they do, sometimes to the point of being an annoyance, is that they get no answer.

  15. What a sad, pathetic country we are turning into, if companies that are purportedly open for business, freak out if someone actually stops by–and a job applicant, at that! What if a customer stops by, arrest them? Is the mailman frisked? What the hell do they sell or do?

    All the more reason to meet people in person, any way you can. I hate to start assuming employers are screwed up (instead of just incompetent at hiring), but….

    • I think the greater number of readers here already assume “if a company has screwed up, difficult or just ugly hiring practices, the company itself is screwed up”.

      For me, this starts at “if confronted with an ATS, the company itself is screwed up”. It may be a leap, but not a large one.

  16. From the limited information presented in the OP, I suspect the cop was not a cop.

    Glassdoor is anonymous, so you get what you pay for there, but I don’t know of any other place where people can talk about the company’s failings. Poor treatment of candidates should be included in the ratings.

    It seems most companies that don’t deal directly with the public don’t have actual receptionists any more. It is, as noted, usually a security officer who greets visitors and contacts the person with whom the visitor has the appointment. I usually chat with the s.o. because I have worked in contract security a couple of times.

    Which brings up a point off topic: If you haven’t already, please develop at least a first-name acquaintance with the security staff at your company. They are often wonderful people to get to know. Many are college students, trying to work their way through rather than relying solely on student loans. Many are retirees with years of experience. Most are contract employees who don’t know if the contract will be renewed next year and if they will still have a job. The vast majority are people with a highly professional attitude who like to help others.

  17. I wrote a lengthy treatise here. I was incensed by some of the comments.

    Now that I have calmed down, I’ll say this,

    “Some of the best and most enjoyable jobs I’ve had were a direct result of human interaction with someone at the front door.”

    “Some of the worst and most awful jobs I’ve had were a direct result of online recruiting and representation by an agency.”

    Seriously, imagine a customer showing up at the front door, are they gonna do that “All American” thing a bust a cap in their ass?

    • Not all businesses have customers; or at least, not customers that it would be reasonable to expect at the door randomly. My current company would have no “customers” in this sense. Not everyone works in sales, not every company has direct customers.

      This thread is doing an awful lot of taking narrow experiences in one industry and either assuming that those experiences apply to every industry, or assuming that they *should.* The same issue, actually, that most internet job advice has. There are norms in rural America that would be considered bunk in NYC, and vice versa. There are things that are done in nonprofits that manufacturing would sneer at. Can we all just live with the idea that no one industry or area or company is doing it in a way that would be “right” for everyone?

      • If a business doesn’t have a customer, who provides the revenue?

        • I believe her point was that not every business has a storefront or that their customers are more virtual rather than “walk-in”.
          Have you ever walked in to Microsoft’s headquarters to buy Windows? No? But would they serve you, the customer, if you walked in? No? ***The reason why is important for many on here to grasp***

          • I’ve been in Microsoft’s headquarters, and yes, you can buy a copy of Windows there. But I bought an XBox controller.

            I don’t see your point.

          • Oops, bad example (never been to MS HQ). I assumed they’d be locked down like Target’s C-Suite.

        • There are plenty of businesses that make revenue without the expectation that anyone off the street could walk in. Plenty of nonprofits and law offices are selective about the clients they take on. Media companies don’t let every reader in off the street to tour the office (and threats to journalists are a very real, even daily occurrence). As someone else mentioned, defense contractors or other federal contracting agencies who have to keep security on lockdown. There are tons of categories of companies that this restriction might apply to.

          There’s also the whole other category of company that doesn’t get any walk-in revenue, doesn’t want it, and doesn’t want their already-stretched-too-thin admins having to deal with randos off the street. Like I’ve said, I’ve never found an applicant who did this kind of “follow-up” (via phone or in-person) to be a particularly desirable candidate; the evidence suggests to me that people who do this are people I don’t want to hire.

          • having to deal with randos off the street. I’ve never found an applicant who did this kind of “follow-up” (via phone or in-person) to be a particularly desirable candidate;

            Hi Kim

            Not trolling here but – eh technically if you hav a cv and application from the person then he she can’t be a “rando”. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but you already have a lot of personal and professional detail. Or are you saying you really don’t need any of that because your “systems” handle that for you?

          • And plenty of law offices willingly talk to and take walk-ins. I don’t know where you are or what kind of law offices you’ve worked in, but this bunker or siege mentality won’t help you in the long run. The law offices I’ve worked in were general practices, and the attorneys took whatever cases walked in the door (literally). It was their livelihood, and taking those cases meant fees (earning a living). There were times when the attorneys were in court, or were meeting with other clients, or taking depositions, and then the remedy was very simple. If there was no one available to talk with prospective clients, then the sec’y/receptionist scheduled an appointment after trying to get some basic info from the visitor, mostly so prospective client could meet with the right attorney. There was no point having him to talk to the attorney who did wills and trusts when he had been in a car accident, or vice versa.

            Maybe if you’re Skadden you don’t talk to prospective clients, but for most of us in the real world, you’re not going to turn someone away so quickly. And you never know how the way you treat someone (try treating people with basic courtesy, good manners, politeness) will come back to you. A friend of mine is an attorney. She’d had someone drop in the office one day who was looking for a job. She was busy, but remembered how hard it was to get started, so she took him up on his offer to buy her a coffee and chatted with him about law, practicing it in this area, gave him some tips. Her good deed wasn’t rewarded immediately, but she said years later, when she was on her own and scrabbling for clients and cases, an attorney was always willing to throw work that he didn’t have time for her way. It turned out to be the newly licensed attorney she’d been willing to chat with years later. He was working for a much bigger firm that routinely farmed out cases, he remembered her kindness to him, and paid her back.

            People will understand if “now” isn’t a good time, but then MAKE the time. And yes, I do understand that not all companies are open to people dropping in, but unless you’re in a secure area that requires top secret security clearance or are working on the Manhattan Project II, then why not meet with him?

            OP’s tale of the company’s response, and yours, tells me something is very, very screwed up with hiring.

      • …and yet, in every comment you make, you assume that showing up at the front door is inherently wrong! BTW, you do have customers, even if you call them clients.

        • Thanks for trying to explain my profession to me as though you even know what it is (you’re not correct, I don’t have clients). And I don’t think showing up at the door is inherently wrong. I just think it is bad advice to flatly give jobseekers that if they do it, there’s no downside and potential upside. I’m far from being the only person who will take points off an application for people showing up, or saying they will show up, without invitation (just go check the Ask a Manager comments for evidence of that). If your industry loves that, by all means, keep doing it! But you’re doing a disservice to jobseekers if you tell them that it’s an unqualified good tactic.

          • You take points off for people wanting to a) show initiative, and b) see the place? Seriously, you sound like someone that needs to detox from the digital, and spend some time in the analog, world.

  18. I worked in HR back when humans actually vetted resumes and conducted professional interviews. All of that has changed. Now, applicants are expected to put up with nonsense and endure an extremely unfriendly job hunting environment. Applicants used to be able to walk into most any business and fill out an application which would be kept on file until a position opened. It is stunning to see today’s job application process. Computers will never be able to do everything that humans do, and so called progress is not always progress. The business world needs to understand this.

    The most ridiculous job application I ever saw was one which demanded applicants sign on the line next to a statement saying company representatives would make unannounced visits to their employees’ homes to make sure the employees were leading lifestyles the company deemed appropriate. Astounding times indeed!

    • Deb: Thanks for that! HR shows up at the applicant’s house! Now we have the counter-example that supports the OP’s desire to visit.

    • Hmmm… HR house calls! As horrible as that sounds, would such an action be deemed “human touch, let’s absolutely let them in!” as an applicant would want to expect an inviting nature of a future employer?

      Some companies need/should be welcoming. Others, like mine, have security reasons where showing up would be seen as counter to the wishes of the power plants (our customers) we service.

      • It’s my possibly incorrect understanding that facilities like you are referring to already have policy for people who show up either announced or unannounced. I’m assuming the later would just be turned away at some point, much like other places.

    • Sounds like something from the late 19th or early 20th century. Was that an antique application?

  19. “…such conflicted behavior and mixed signals sent by employers reveal just how dysfunctional recruiting has become.”


    Calling the police took more time and involved more peopel than simply ignoring (as many companies usually do) the prospect or telling them “Thanks, but no thanks”.

    Go figure…

    Being proactive is now defined as “aggressive”. Simply following up is now deemed “stalking.”

    Attorneys LOVE this New World Order where everyone that perseveres is now considered a “threat” requring a Protective Order. Worse yet, we all know that HR defers to the “legal” department that uniformally issues “we can’t comment on that” cookie cutter responses covering their cowardly conduct. Hey, “Business as usual”.

    I self-represented in a case that statute required I personally deliver a particular document to opposing counsel. Having done research on said counsel I brought a digital camera and filmed my quick and simple document drop-off. That very day opposing counsel faxed me a “trespass” warning !?!??

    Of all people, you’d figure the police and attorneys would be versed on the law – innocent until proven guilty. But I see that such objective thinking is not “progressive” enough for liberalized America.

    So, whether it be your local paranoid HR office, bullying police dept. or typical egotistical attorney, know one thing:

    Ya can’t fix stupid.

  20. I have never seen as much bad reading ability shown in ATH as here. The candidate did not walk into the office unannounced – he sent an email saying he wanted to come, and I assume that after being told there was no job would have dropped it even if the “police” did not call.
    Companies have receptionists for a reason. 40 years ago I had a summer job where I popped into offices all over Manhattan, and never once found a bunker. I’m not surprised that Nick could buy Windows at Microsoft. Intel HQ has a museum open to the public, and there is no problem talking to a receptionist. Oracle software is a bit pricey to buy from a store, but you can walk in and buy shirts if you want.
    I guess this company is not planning on having any other openings ever. I guess HR has forgotten that “Human” is in its name.
    There are overly aggressive and obnoxious candidates. The writer here was not one of them.

    • Scott: “I have never seen as much bad reading ability shown in ATH as here. The candidate did not walk into the office unannounced – he sent an email saying he wanted to come”

      Maybe you and I had the same English Lit professor in college… where did you go to school? :-). Walter Bezanson (a Melville scholar) taught us to write our papers using the text of the book we were writing about as our starting point. That is, read carefully and exactly.

      It’s a lesson that has helped me with everything I do – especially with contracts and business documents. It’s very easy to finish reading something and then to remember it with assumptions inserted. In cognitive psychology, this is called “constructive memory.” It’s natural. People do it. The thing is to realize you do it and to account for it.

      I don’t think people mis-read the OP’s story intentionally or thoughtlessly. I think they just remembered it in a way that supports their own view of the world. It makes for interesting reading in the Comments section!

      There is no evidence the job applicant ever visited the employer. In fact, if you go to the Indeed forum where this actually appeared, the OP makes it clear there was no visit.

  21. I have a different take:

    About a week passed with no response…

    Yeah, by that time I’ve already moved on to my next prospect. I don’t care if a company can’t be bothered to respond; it just means *I* won’t be helping them improve their efficiencies, save money and increase their capacities.

    Instead, I’ll be doing all of the above at their competition, and they’ll still be there, cowering in their bunkers. No loss.

    • Bryan: This is perhaps the biggest lesson here. If an employer demonstrates poor business practices, don’t try to find another way in the door. Be grateful for the tip-off. On to the next. And consider that tomorrow the employer will look in the mirror and see there’s no change in the face they see. It’s still there. That’s their comeuppance.

  22. I had to read this week’s Q&A twice to make sure that I wasn’t in the twilight zone. What is the matter with people? Had HR responded to the applicant in a timely manner, this never would have happened. Or, if the company wished, they could have programmed their ATS to send out an automatic reject email when applicants don’t meet their minimum number of key words.

    Then, when an applicant does the common sense thing and follows up because he hasn’t heard from the company, they interpret it as “stalking”, him as a weirdo (because apparently in their world only weirdos follow up) and treat him as a threat when he shows up by calling the police! WTF indeed.

    Back in the dark ages (the 1980’s), when I was looking for jobs, there were no online applications, no ATSes. I was in college and I went door to door with a résumé but often companies also wanted me to fill out applications. There was no problem, and many a time the manager would come out to chat. Sometimes it resulted in interviews, sometimes not. Sometimes, after talking to the manager, I had second thoughts and decided not to apply.

    Even in 2001, I had applied for a job by going down in person, résumé in hand. This company had a receptionist, and there was no problem talking to her, either. If anyone working for the company was willing to talk to me, that was a plus to me and always gave me a more favorable impression of the company.

    In this week’s LW’s case, there was no need to panic. And yes, the company had invited him in by posting a job vacancy and taking online applications. The simplest remedy, if they didn’t want to meet him, would have been to say “I’m sorry, but Mr. Muckety-Muck is out of town” or better still, just tell him that he didn’t make it through the landmine ATS and they weren’t interested in him, and wish him luck in his future endeavors. No need to panic, no need to call the cops.

    But LW’s question reminded me of a boss I had at my last job (running an online master’s program at a large university). I could count the number of “local” students I had in my program on one hand and have fingers left over; the students were scattered across the country and we had some overseas. One of the students wanted to come to campus for a visit, to meet me, to meet some of his professors, to see the campus. My response to him was “of course you can come!!! Let me know when you plan to be here so I can let your professors know.” Not all of the faculty were local either, but those who were gladly said they’d come to meet him. I didn’t have a problem with this, nor did the faculty, but my boss did, and she couldn’t understand why he wanted to come. He was a student in a distance-ed program and wanted to put faces to the names and talk with people one on one. He wasn’t a weirdo or a stalker or a threat; he said he had a great visit, and meet us made the whole thing more real. I remember telling my boss that if a student wants to make the effort to come to campus, then the least I can do is make the visit a good one, and spend some time with the student. My theory was the same–we invited him by offering the program, accepting his application, admitting him and enrolling him.

    • Ahhh, thank you, Marybeth – voice of reason. :)

    • HR doesn’t have time to respond.

      And what does that tell us?

  23. Surprised to see you on Indeed’s forum, Nick. Any value there for job seekers?

    • I’m not Nick, but I browse the Indeed forum and I participated in the Indeed forum thread that started this discussion. While there are some honest questions asked there and thoughtful answers given, it says a lot that the largest single thread on Indeed (32,000 responses, until it apparently broke the entire Career Advice forum category) was the “Frustrated Job Seekers Rant.” There’s a lot more ranting than discussion.

      • Well, to be fair (I’ve followed the forum since the “Beth from Plano” era), if getting a job was just a matter of simply following advice, then nobody would be unemployed (and I really can’t imagine what new advice is left out there to share). At the end of the day many of us are faced with the fact that we’ve followed all the advice out there and still find ourselves being shipped off to the “glue factory of minimum wage retail” (quote from another thread there). I myself have accepted I’ll never work again, that doesn’t mean I don’t get sad about it and occasionally need someplace to, well, rant with others in the same situation, it helps to know it’s not my fault.

        • Thank you, too. I was just curious what kind of forum it is. If it’s mostly commiserating with other disaffected job seekers, I have no judgment. Everyone needs an outlet.

          I’m not just polishing the teacher’s apple by saying this, but I do think Nick’s methods are best. My problem is finding companies that are worth the effort and work that Nick’s methods require.

      • Thank you, Scott.

  24. Clearly, the company acted like a jerk: first asking for an application, then going silent, then calling the cops when the applicant said he would pop by. After all, the applicant did not threaten anyone, and did not go there after the cmpany said the position was gone.

    But, Kimberlee does point towards important issues: When is it appropriate to visit a company unsolicited, and when is it fruitful? It is a balance between showing perseverance and being pushy. Job hunting is selling yourself; but nobody likes a pushy salesman.

    Obviously, the first rule is to be qualified and do the home work. I have myself received unsolicited visits at work, from people who are obviously unqualified, but probably had read some career avice that knocking on the door shows perseverance. In such case, we politely told them, sorry no openings planned (true), but we can take your resume (and bury it…).

    Just showing up could be a way around HR, but has the risk that Ms Manager is in a meeting and not available (true or white lie). After all, managers are often busy. In most cases, I think it is better do do the homework and find a way to the manager to talk shop, rather than a walkn-cold-call.

    • Agreed. The company didn’t initially respond, that was bad on their part. Calling the cops was ridiculous, especially since the company had already responded to the candidate to tell him/her not to visit. (Interesting theory in the responses that this was possibly a security officer posing as a cop.)

      I also agree that, extending out the circumstances, Kimberlee has a point. In-person, unannounced visits (again, not what this person did, but we’re extending the circumstances) might not always be fruitful or appropriate, depending on the company.

      At the same time, if you show some initiative and take a chance, it might be helpful. And if the in-person visit doesn’t help, what have you lost but a bit of time?

    • There’s no question that visiting an employer unannounced is a judgment call. Showing up might get you rejected out of hand. Having the cops called on you might get the employer rejected out of hand. It cuts both ways.

      The OP never disclosed the name of the employer. But does anyone think the OP has not told many people about the employer by name? That costs the employer.

      No one did anything illegal on either side. But both sides must accept the consequences of their choices. So the question is, which party lost the most in this transaction?

  25. We can only go on what the OP has told us, so I don’t know the nature of the reply he sent them. However, I would’ve thought you would seek their permission to drop by to talk about the potential position, rather than just telling them you were intending to drop by – or actually dropping by on the off chance someone can talk to you. I agree the company appears to have over reacted here; but I have no information on the history or hiring practices of that company, so I can’t comment on why they reacted the way they did. However, if I was crafting my interview list I would be a touch miffed if someone told me they were “dropping by to chat”; especially if I wasn’t interested in interviewing them. I think the real problem here is the lack of communication to candidates from the company. A prompt email follow up to give a status on selection, especially if a candidate is no longer in the running, should be high priority in the company. Courtesy should be shown by all parties involved.

  26. One thing that I think might be lost in all this: OP applied, then a couple of days later followed up, then followed up again a week later. That’s a *super* short time frame. Normally, if I’m posting a job, I don’t even look at the pool for at least a week, so I have a couple to look at when I sit down to focus on that posting. That’s part of why OP seems so pushy to me; that is a super short period of follow-up, and frankly when you tell me “I’m coming to the office,” you’re forcing me to take time that I had budgeted for something else and look at your application, so I can be sure I want to reject you to get you out of my hair. Because I absolutely do not want you showing up at my office without my having set time aside from other high-priority tasks just because you’re impatient.

    And I think that’s the important thing for jobseekers to remember: this isn’t something where the worst you can lose is a bit of time. If you’re a mid-range candidate for the position (as most, almost by definition, are), you might have made it to the next stage in my process if you’d given me a chance to evaluate you in the time I’ve set aside to do so, in the manner I’d prefer to do so. When I dig up your application to keep you from coming to my office, I’m looking for reasons to reject you, because you’ve interrupted my workflow. You’ve told me that you demand my time, right now, or else you’ll demand it randomly in person. So, yeah, unless I look at your application and am like “huh, actually, this person is really good,” you’ll get exactly what OP got, which is a flat rejection. And as I’ve mentioned, I’ve *never* in my memory thought a candidate that made me do this was good enough to bring in on their demand.

    Again, if you only want to work for companies that will give a friendly face to every person that walks into the building, that’s your prerogative. But I would be careful before advising that showing up at the office, or saying you’re planning to show up at the office, is a totally harmless thing to do with no downside. There is a very real downside that depends a lot on the field and company you’re talking about.

    • Kimberlee – thank you for being persistent in showing another side to this issue. There’s the way people want the hiring process to happen and there’s the reality of what actually happens. We ought to be aware of both.

    • Really not trolling you Kim,

      But here’s a novel idea. Put aside 20 min per day in your v busy schedule for exceptions (call it high performance time). If your systems are good then you will have all the required data to hand in 2 min.

      Review the case. Set the meet and give honest feedback. That’s all no drama required.

      After a year let us know your results.


    • Kimberlee, et al.

      I find that I am quoting myself, because the hiring practices of corporate American have gotten no better since I joined this blog. Certainly not since :

      Back when HR was “wages and benefits”, management made darn sure there were hoards of fresh-faced stenographers and typists to crank out correspondence of all types, including but not limited to “We thank you for your interest in XYZ Company, and will have a decision by Friday next.”

      Fast forward: Now we have HR, no steno pool, and everyone is a typist. Apply for a position, get an interview (or not!) and the next sound you hear is utter, complete, rude, deafening silence.

      Were companies better citizens then? I don’t know. I do know that, at least from a potential employee’s perspective, their “corporate culture” is so blatantly demeaning that it is beyond comprehension why anyone would care to work there.

      (Edited because spelling & grammar matter, and punctuation saves lives.)

      • I feel like a lot of people are comparing the present to times of yore when, yeah, ATSs weren’t crappy because there were no ATSs. There were also a lot fewer applicants. Oh, and women and people of color weren’t in most of your hiring pools either. There were more managers then generally; fewer now. And there were fewer giant businesses, and fewer smaller business, and fewer nonprofits, and lower overall productivity. We also have the Internet today, which allows us to have the biggest, most diverse pools of talent we’ve ever been able to tap into. We also have businesses based in the Ineternet, and things can change quickly. There are about a million things different about today and the job force 10 years ago, 20 years ago, whenever. Some are good, some are bad, but it’s silly to hearken back to those days as if those were the ideal hiring practices, or as though we can expect every company to be able to, or want to, emulate them.

        • But basic human nature has not changed, and that is what you seem to fail to grasp in all of your posts. Step away from the computer and go meet some real people.

          I’ve lived in both worlds and I can tell you without hesitation the current job recruiting process is a step back in many, many, ways. And when I visit places filled with people hired like you’re hiring people, I simply see drones.

          You’ve made you points here over and over again. How about hiring a few folks today?

          • I have no problem with Kimberlee’s approach, as long as she sends out an email to the candidates indicating this is going to be her approach and the likely timeframe. The good old days were not so good for women; any woman who had the gumption to apply for a tech job was probably the first entry in the bin and then had to wait for the snail mail confirmation. Why should Kimberlee meet with a succession of people who just turn up out of the blue, rather than concentrating on the ones she has deemed to be the best fit? Dependant on how many candidates apply for a job, setting time to casually meet the more pushy ones reduces the time to research and properly interview the prefered ones; thus slowing down the process even further. I certainly make time in my day to encourage and assist others, but I don’t think I am “obligated” to do this as it can be distracting from the job in hand. You are not “entitled” to an interview so being overly agressive in pushing for one is a good way to get “binned” from the outset. The consequences of hiring the wrong person, particularly a pushy agressive one, can be difficult to remediate. Thank-you Kimberlee for being persistent enough to make your point even if others don’t want to hear it. Please make sure you keep people in the communication loop so they understand the timeframe you are working to and tell them they are out of the running as soon as practicable.

        • The Internet may put you in touch with “a diverse pool of talent” that you never had in the past, but it does not mean that it is well suited and the best tool for finding people.

          Networking and having a personal connection with a hiring authority is still the best way of finding/filling a job. This is true, even after 2 decades of having the Internet as a common thing.

        • Kimberly, many of us are comparing how it was done NOT because we’re clueless about technology or don’t appreciate that managers are busy but because more often than not, back then managers had better social skills and would call or send a letter to let applicants know whether they’ve been hired or not, whether they will be interviewed or not.

          Technology has made HR and managers stupid and clueless. Why would you think it is okay NOT to follow up with those who apply? Didn’t your mother teach you basic manners and social skills? Many of lessons we learned in kindergarten: greet people/say hello, say good-bye, thank people when they give you a gift, thank people when they show an interest (thank you for your interest in the engineering II job at Rubble & Flintstone Co.), and if they didn’t make the cut, then a brief “thank you but no thanks” email is all that is required to prevent “pushy” people from “pestering” you and taking up your valuable time. If you let them know that you’ve hired someone else, or that the job is no longer available, you’ll find less of this behavior. But if you want to continue to get a deluge of calls and emails from applicants wondering about the status of their applications, then by all means, keep ignoring them and treating them badly. That will surely enhance the reputation of your employer and encourage people to apply in the future. Applicants talk, and a bad reputation can be hard to correct and harmful to the company.

          • “Technology has made HR and managers stupid and clueless”. Standing, cheering. Sadly, truer words were never spoken.

          • This is what I have been trying to get at, in my above statements. If you don’t want people following up, just let them know in a timely fashion.

            Kimberlee says that it’s usually the less qualified/strong candidates that tend to follow up. Well, of course that’s the case – you probably never got in touch with them to say “We are not interested at this time.” It should also be pointed out that applicants generally don’t know their competition. It is also quite possible that they had your company specifically targeted in a job search, and they have other irons in the fire and possible job offers on the table, so they want to check in before a decision is made on their end. The list goes on and on.

            I just find it sort of ironic that if I treated my co-workers or customers the way that people sometimes treat job applicants, that I would have been out of a job long ago.

        • Kimberlee,

          It sounds as if you are a proponent of the “new rudeness” that corporations have acquired. Perhaps if the job applicant wants to be treated like a human being, they should just go off and expire so they can get out of the way of the “exceptional” candidates willing to put up the average crass corporation.

          No wonder so many “exceptional” candidates go into business far afield from their areas of experience.

          This leaves you and every other employer to figure out what to do with the 94,391,000 or so people who are un- or under-employed in America.

          I have a suggestion: Create some jobs, give some jobs. A 4% per annum growth in workforce participation over the next ten years would not hurt the economy one wit.

          (Source: unless I’m totally mis-reading it.)

    • It isn’t that people are impatient–it is that you don’t follow up with them at all, so they have no way of knowing whether you received the application or not. A simple acknowledgement email could be programmed so when the application is received, s/he gets a confirmation email stating it was received. If your policy is to only contact the ones you want to interview and to hell with everyone else, then that’s why people are calling, emailing, saying they’ll drop in. It is a lack of communication on YOUR part that is driving this behavior.

      I didn’t get the sense that the OP was applying for a job at a company that does a lot of hush-hush secret work. Nor did I get the sense that he was impatient or “pushy”. He applied, he heard NOTHING, so he followed up. Have you ever hosted parties where you sent invitations asking people to RSVP and you hear NOTHING? You can’t plan further–not until you know how many guests you will have. So you give people a little more time to respond after the deadline you provided on the invitation, and when you still get a deafening silence from some of your guests, you start calling and emailing people, to ask them whether they’re coming or not. That’s not being impatient or pushy; you have to know how much seating, food, etc.

      If people are calling you, it means they’re still interested, so if you’re NOT interested in them, put them out of their misery. Tell them that they didn’t meet the requirements for the job, that the position has been filled, wish them luck, and THANK them for their interest. You can write a letter that will be a template, then all you have to do is change the name of the applicant. It really is very simple.

      • “I didn’t get the sense that the OP was applying for a job at a company that does a lot of hush-hush secret work.”

        (Again, I have had close friends and family work at places that required clearance over the years)

        It’s my understanding that companies like this (should) have processes in place that keep the keep the unwanted masses out and that would allow people who are there for “company business” in. Someone just showing up asking for employment or to talk with someone could be quickly turned away and/or redirected to follow the proper procedure (again, from what I have been told/seen). Even if the person said, “I’m coming over,” they could be politely reminded that since they do work with the government, that they have to follow specific policy so don’t waste your time.

        I don’t think this matters as much as OP thinks it does, as any company can turn people away as they see fit (whether dictated by Federal/State or their own policy).

        • Yes, you’re right–companies and agencies like should (and many do) have processes in place to keep random visitors out. There was nothing in the OP’s letter to indicate that the employer to which he applied for the job was such a company, and nothing to indicate that the employer wasn’t such a company. I’m surmising. And yes, any company can turn people away if they wish.

          But I think this matter (company policies re who can come into the building and who can’t) is secondary to the bad manners, bad business policy of failing to notify applicants whether they’ve made it to the next round or not.

          • Don’t forget “advertising fake jobs,” as this one clearly was. Can’t help but wonder if the company panicked about being caught (it’s easy to lie online, not so easy to lie to a person’s face)…

          • “But I think this matter (company policies re who can come into the building and who can’t) is secondary to the bad manners, bad business policy of failing to notify applicants whether they’ve made it to the next round or not.”

            It is obvious that many employers do not care whether or not applicants are left in the dark. They post these ads, many of them blind ads with no contact information, and applicants don’t know who is getting their information. I see ads like this all the time. They will have you send your resume to, for example, or some other type email that doesn’t include who the company is. But still, even those emails can be set up to kick back an instant reply that they have received your resume. But most of the time there is nothing but silence. I can’t believe that there are people in the business world who obviously cannot be bothered to set up their job posting emails to send an instant reply that the resume was received. How lazy or possibly incompetent can one be?

      • “If people are calling you, it means they’re still interested, so if you’re NOT interested in them, put them out of their misery. Tell them that they didn’t meet the requirements for the job, that the position has been filled, wish them luck, and THANK them for their interest. You can write a letter that will be a template, then all you have to do is change the name of the applicant. It really is very simple.”

        This has been my biggest beef with employers. Let applicants know whether or not they will move forward. A lot of this can be automated. I just don’t understand why so many employers think it is okay to not respond. I remember a time when I could apply to jobs and would almost always get some sort of letter thanking me for applying. This at least would let me know that they received my resume.

        • +1

          I’m not a fan of automated responses, but at least it’s SOMETHING. It sure beats being left in the dark.

          • I’m not either, because I think automated responses are taking the easy way out, but in this brave new world of job hunting, I’ve changed my mind and lowered my standards. I’ll take an automated response over no response at all. At least this way I know they received it, even if they’re not interested in me. And that’s okay–I’m a big girl, I can handle the rejection without making faces, pitching a fit.

  27. Kimberlee, you commented re another poster making two assumptions about you–that you’re a lawyer and that you work in the legal profession–and that both of those assumptions are wrong.

    If you’re NOT a lawyer, why do you advertise yourself as one? Your tag is “Kimberlee, Esq.” “Esq.” is an abbreviation for “Esquire” and is used by people who are attorneys. If you’re not an attorney, then you should drop it from your name/tag/title.

    • @Marybeth: Exactly. Do we have a troll :)

      • Marilyn, I’ve assumed that Kimberlee is an American working here in the States, and hence my assumption, like many others’ this week, that she is an attorney even if she’s working in HR, not practicing law. Lawyers do a lot of things other than practice law for a variety of reasons–better work-life balance, family commitments, health, etc. I’ve come across some in academia–not as faculty or in the legal dept. but as administrators and I suppose that some might work in HR.

        If Kimberlee is British, working in the UK, then I’m puzzled because females aren’t given the title “Esquire” to indicate their rank (social status). Men, yes, but women, not.

        Funny….I re-read her comment that thought perhaps she’s a troll, too, but she’s been participating on Nick’s blog for a while….and I wonder if she’ll deign to answer my question why she’s using a title to indicate that she’s a lawyer if she’s not a lawyer. Even if you’ve decided that you’re no longer going to practice, or have retired, many lawyers will still put “Esquire” after their names because it indicates their (former) profession and all the hard work they did. Here “Esquire” is an earned title, not a hereditary title, so Kimberlee, what gives?

    • Kimberlee is not a troll. I know of her from another blog I follow.

  28. I have been tuning into ATH since 1997, and occasionally chiming in. The decision to chime in usually is only determined by whether the story I’d like to tell is relevant to the thread of discussion. Or sometimes I just tell the story and see what happens.

    My daughter frequently admonishes me that there were no “better” times in history, only localized spheres of good fortune enjoyed by a certain group of people, during a certain time-span. And while my daughter’s fraternal grandmother died long before my daughter was born, somehow my daughter caught wind of one of grandma’s favorite sayings during the 1940’s and 1950’s, a saying even I had never heard before: The world is not a worse place; bad news just travels faster.

    And because I hope I’m addressing a “Transgenerational” audience here, I have to give some historical background concerning the professional turnarounds in my industry (warehousing, transportation, distribution) circa the early 1980’s.

    The picture for the article of my trade magazine persuading sales people to begin a new attitude in this industry shows a smartly dressed salesman holding a leather pad folio pointing his finger sternly at his cigar-chomping, plaid-jacketed alter-ego holding a handful of cheap promo giveaways. Back then, a plaid sport coat was iconic for being loud and obnoxious and overdrawn on one’s intellectual bank account.

    This article, and a TV commercial featuring a motivational consultant in a plaid jacket circa mid-1990’s, are about the only images I remember, but I have to lay this visual foundation because I was actually accosted by a man in a plaid jacket circa early 1990’s.

    How it went down was this:

    We were the branch of a mid-sized company hiding out in a semi-secluded industrial park lying on the outskirts of the second-largest city in the state. At our peak, our facility had around 50 sales, operations, and administrative people on the payroll. Technically, I reported to the operations manager, but in practicality, we were on the same management level: working managers. No silos, no turf, no politics, no perks, just work.

    So when the boss wasn’t around, I was automatically the PIC—Person In Charge.

    For the most part, this was a relatively uneventful role. But one day, I got an internal call: “Fred, I think should come to the front.” I was the Warehouse Manager, and would occasionally have to settle minor office tiffs, so that’s what I thought I was walking into. But when I arrived, I found a man in a plaid jacket clearly walking around the office like it was his own. This may have not been my turf, but I was very proud of my domain, and this guy was invading it.

    I don’t remember how the introductions began, or how the diplomatic invitation to get the hell out of building was initiated, because I was basically in shock at such rude behavior. I only remember him ranting about the fabulous things that he was going to do for our company if we hired him, that he was “our man”, and thumping his fingers on my chest at least twice (yes, he was definitely in my face).

    He left without incident, and while no formal policies were initiated, my personal policy was formulated almost immediately after his departure. It would be to ask such a person once: “Please leave, now!” If said action did not occur immediately, I would not ask again, but would let the perp be in clear earshot of my call to the police.

    We had a clearly defined receiving area, with a sliding glass window at the receptionist’s desk. All he had to do was wait there. If he had done that, and annoyed me privately, well, dealing with annoying people was an unwritten part of my job description. It would have just been another tale to tell.

    And just so you know that for thirty years one particular policy and practice never changed in spite of this event is that the receptionist would on occasion ask a walk-in applicant to sit tight for a moment. She would track me down, physically hand me the application, and speak to me in code: “I think you should look at this one”. Ninety-nine-point-nine-nine percent of the time, an interview, either at the moment on the spot, or at our mutual convenience (emphasis on the word mutual) ensued.

    This was just one of the many different ways I recruited back then.

    I miss those days.