If you ask a question, be prepared to engage.
I was talking with a friend who’s been job hunting. He’s been actively looking for nearly 11 months. He stopped working full-time during COVID. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, he and his wife decided it was time for a change - well, the situation required the change - as online school and digital connections took center stage. They agreed that she would accept a full-time job offer with a company she’d been contracting with for a few years. During that time, he had a few part-time gigs to stay sharp and bring in some extra income.
Last year, once everything was settling back into a routine that many hadn’t experienced in a few years, he started actively looking in his field for full time work.
Background (in case you were wondering)
He is a high quality, talented professional whose work is respected.
His submission materials were strong. Trust me.
“Do you have ANY idea how many jobs that I apply to and just never even hear back from?”
He’s posed that rhetorical question to me so many times that it has become a running joke. It’s one of those funny, not funny things.
His experience illustrates an intentional or unintentional breakdowns in communication. The companies asked a question “Hey, we need help. Do you want to work here?” He replied “Yes, let’s talk!!!!! Then nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Silence.
What happens when you initiate a conversation and then, when there’s a response, you go silent?
Not only are you being thoughtless, you’re *choosing* to contribute to the shaping of someone else’s negative perceptions of your company and your brand. Not responding to someone after they reply to address your needs is entirely in your control. Total lack of acknowledgment of candidate submissions is SUCH poor form. Volume of applicants, limitations of automated systems, rate of unqualified applicants, blah, blah, blah. If you put a question out there, you should have a plan to reply when someone invests their most valuable asset -time- into answering you, especially when you’re asking for help.
So, what’s the lesson here?
On a basic level, for this specific example, you’ve tarnished your company’s reputation and brand when it comes to job seekers (folks that are likely involved in your industry). You’ve likely limited future engagement and you missed out on an opportunity to spark deeper engagement. You’ve damaged your audience relationships. On a human level, you chose to be rude.
On a wider level, when you ask a question that you aren’t prepared to answer - you’ve disrupt the exchange of information and break trust. Relationships develop at the speed of trust. If you’re a business that’s looking to develop or strengthen existing or potential relationships with customers or clients and you ask a question, be prepared to engage. It’s easy enough to shout your services, post your offerings, or claim your expertise. It’s more involved to craft communications that trigger real exchange, but that’s not where your work ends. It’s up to you to keep the conversation going. That takes careful communication planning, guided by empathetic thinking and envisioning the future for your organization.
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