Antidotes to Imposter Syndrome
Skill vs. Will

Dear Unemployed Job Seekers: A Thank You Would Be Nice



In the past few weeks, I've had occasion to email several people who are unemployed. Some had emailed me for advice or connections. Others had participated in live events with me and I'd followed up by emailing them some resources they'd requested. A few wanted me to review their resumes or cover letters. 

In each case, I took the time to craft a helpful response, including links to relevant information. Some took me only 5 minutes to respond, but several required up to 30 minutes, including reviewing materials and providing specific feedback. 

I emailed these off and then.  .  . crickets. 

No thank you. No "I appreciate you taking the time to look at this." Not even a "got it." Just silence.

Only one of two things can be going on here, neither of which is good for the job search. 

First, it's possible that they haven't checked their email and therefore don't know I've sent this information. However, since the vast majority of employers are using email to stay in contact with folks, not checking your email when you're looking for a job is a HUGE problem. The race is going to the swift, my friends, so if you aren't on top of the emails in your inbox then someone else is going to get that job ahead of you. 

The second possibility is, in some ways, more disturbing. They may have received the email and simply not thanked me for my time. They got what they wanted, now on to the next thing. 

This is what's wrong with the world right now, especially when it comes to connecting--this idea that human interaction is all about you. It's not. It's about me, too. 

I love helping people--it's what I do. But when I'm not even acknowledged for these efforts, it makes me much less likely to help you the next time you ask for something from me. And if this is how you're treating other people, then maybe that's contributing to the fact that you're still unemployed. Job search these days is about connections and if you aren't contributing to the circle then you're using up all the goodwill that could be helping you find another job. 

Relationships are not transactions, where we simply extract from them what we need and then move on to the next person. They are reciprocal--two-way, where each does for the other.

I know that it's scary and hard and frustrating to look for a job right now, but that doesn't mean that you should wallow in it. You have to give back too. I promise that it will make you feel better. And those you thank will want to help again. 

The best thing you can do for your job search is to THANK PEOPLE FOR THEIR HELP. It costs you nothing (except a little time) and it goes a long way toward strengthening the connections you need right now. 


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excellent article....missing my friends from our Artists Way group :)

The lack of these basic interpersonal skills (i.e.: thanking people for their time and efforts, no matter the context) is probably one of the things that contributes to people not finding employment or getting interviews. The best recruiters and employers still value people who show come common decency and kindness.

Thanks Betty---miss you guys too! And you're right Dumuzi. This is one of the easiest things to do and it makes a big difference.

I agree with the sentiment of your post - It is important to acknowledge help you have received and to thank those that have taken the trouble to respond to a request.

Dumuzi says "The best recruiters and employers still value people who show come common decency and kindness." Unfortunately, the norm seems to be that the vast majority of recruiters and employers don't even acknowledge receipt of an application, never mind keeping you informed of progress, and no one ever gives feedback on why you didn't get a job/interview. If you ask for feedback, it's just ignored.

I understand the reasons (fear of appeals/litigation and just not enough time to deal with the shear number of applicants), but job seekers have probably spent several hours crafting their CV to your application, writing a strong covering letter and filling in all the detailed requests for background and supporting information that your job site has demanded as part of the application process.

After all this, (in the inimitable words of Michele).....crickets.

After you go through this a few times, you get pretty dispirited and cynical about the 'common decency' of recruiters and employers. Too often recruiters and employers act like they hold all the cards. This is two way process and it's pretty short sighted, by either party, to be discourteous through the recruitment process.

Brian, I agree that recruiters and employers treat hiring like a one-way process too. Everything is for their benefit and convenience and job seekers are supposed to just go along with it if they want the job. I have heard so many horror stories of people not hearing back after submitting applications or, worse yet, after being interviewed. I think there's actually a bit of an epidemic of this problem where people just don't observe common courtesies.

I get it, but I think that when you're looking for a job, it has to become part of your strategy to thank the people who do help. On a purely practical level, you're trying to build goodwill and you may need these people at some point. But beyond that, it seems to me that we don't want to live in a world where doing something nice for someone isn't at least acknowledged. I already feel like we are so "me-focused." This is just one more way we aren't being reciprocal and building relationships.

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