Life at Work

Persistence Can Help Rescue a Résumé That's Lost in the Ether

By Amy Joyce
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 7, 2007

If a résumé is sent to a company with no one to check it out, does anyone hear the job seeker scream?

Apparently not, according to many who want to know why they never receive any sort of acknowledgment when they apply for a job. And what's the deal with never hearing back from potential employers after an interview? I mean, would it kill the human resources department to just call back to say thanks but no thanks?

When Colette Fozard was looking for work in the fall, things started off great. A partner at her law firm handed her résumé to a friend who was hiring. She was quickly called. Fozard, a legal secretary, took the requisite tests and had an hour-long interview with the human resources director. "It was very positive," Fozard said. "I told my husband I got a very good vibe."

Fozard was told she would hear the next day or early the next week. Fozard put her thank-you note into the mail and then . . . nothing. She called a week later. No call back. She e-mailed. The firm never resurfaced.

Thankfully, she soon got a job at another firm.

But really.

Sure, companies receive a boatload of résumé spam, but many have figured out a way to at least acknowledge receiving the applications. Others, however, have forgotten what their moms taught them when they were 6 years old: RSVP.

For eight years, Kris Hannah helped cull through résumés and respond to people who applied to the popular District-based nonprofit where she worked. She sometimes received as many as 130 résumés for one slot. "I made sure everyone had an answer within two to three weeks," she said.

Unfortunately, when she was looking for a new job in graphic design, many times she was not extended the same courtesy. "In my job hunting, my résumé went out in the atmosphere often to never be heard from again," she said. "It was disrespectful and reflected poorly on those companies. If someone takes the time to send you something, you can at least send them a rejection."

In fact, Hannah was not-rejected by four companies. "Okay, did the people die? Was I that awful? I can take it; just tell me no," she opined.

Sometimes there's a little crack in the system. For some, it has to do with sheer volume. Consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean receives 15,000 applications in a typical month, said Elizabeth Miller, recruiting director. Applicants receive an automated response when they apply, and when they interview (and there are 1,000 of those each month), a recruiter follows up by phone.

But with about 50 recruiters to handle all of that, "it probably doesn't happen 100 percent of the time," she said.

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