If you’ve recently found yourself in the market for a new job, after many years of gainful employment, I’ve got two words for you.  BRACE YOURSELF.  Because you’re going to encounter a bevy of bad behavior out there from various organizations — at least compared to the standards we’ve come to expect from years past!

If your experience is a typical one, you’ll not only run into a frustrating brick wall of non-communication in various institutions, but the “bait and switch” and “hurry up and wait” behavior is likely to drive you a bit bonkers on occasion, as well.  In fact, I think it’s safe to say that everybody agrees the current hiring system is broken.  Or highly dysfunctional and inefficient, at the very least.  But who is to blame for this reality?  Are individual hiring managers the culprits?  Recruiters?  Employment attorneys?  The system at large?

Perhaps we should we all just turn the other cheek and “hate the game, not the player” (so to speak) in those cases when a company’s hiring process comes across as not quite as humane or courteous as we might wish.  But in some of the more abusive cases, does it ever make sense for a fed-up job hunter to take action, stand up for themselves, and aggressively call a company on their…stuff?

I’ve seen a few cases where this has come to pass.  A year or two ago, I had one client (I forget who, exactly) tell me that she experienced such rude, arrogant treatment from a junior recruiter that she pulled her name out of consideration, e-mailed the CEO of the company, and informed him that “In case you don’t realize how your HR department is treating people, I wanted you to know, as the leader of the organization, that you’re NEVER going to attract the caliber of talent you’re seeking if you don’t change your hiring process.”

And even more recently, an acquaintance of mine locked horns with a company that was consistently e-mailing him about an opening that matched his skill sets, but would then never respond when he e-mailed his materials in for consideration. Here’s his first attempt at trying to gain clarification from them:

“Dear XYZ Company: My name is Bill and you’ve kindly been sending me job notifications for the same positions for the last couple of months.  I’ve duly applied for a couple of those opportunities for which I’m qualified, gotten no response, and then received yet another notification for the exact same role.  Just so you’re aware, I worked quite successfully in a joint business development role with your company, some years ago, in my former association with Acme Consulting.  In fact, I was Acme’s most successful business person in the history of the company.  I enjoyed working with the senior people in your organization, and probably would enjoy doing so again, to our mutual benefit, I believe.  If only you would actually follow-up on my applications.  Cheers & regards.”

When this initial letter generated zero response, he received yet another solicitation for the same job, so he escalated things a bit further.  Here’s the description he sent me of the next go-round:

“Hi Matt: The farce continues!  I called the company’s regional office in Seattle today and politely requested a general email mailbox address to post a comment about their careers website.  I was put in touch with somebody in their recruiting department named ‘George’.  I said ‘George, can you please provide me with an email address to send a complaint to about your jobs website?’  George then responded with some defensive remarks along the lines of ‘what do you want that for?’ and ‘how do we know who you are?’ and ‘we can”t just hand out email addresses to everybody who asks.’  My rebuttal?  ‘Funny you should say that, George, since you’ve repeatedly e-mailed me unsolicited advertisements asking me to apply for positions, and then, even when I go to the trouble to apply, you continue to send me the exact same solicitations.  So I’m simply looking for a working website — or somebody who actually has a clue as to what it takes for a qualified candidate to get considered at your company.”

What do you think?  Is such behavior reasonable on the part of a “jilted” candidate?  Or does it represent a complete waste of time and effort, whereby a job seeker would end burning bridges and throwing even more precious energy down a rathole?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a conclusive ending yet to the story above and whether this person’s actions will lead anywhere productive, but it got me to wondering whether anybody else out there has tried confronting a company directly about their bad hiring practices, if they employ (ha ha) them.  Has anybody taken their case up the food chain to a company’s shareholders or senior executive team?  Or threatened to boycott their products?  Or exposed a company’s unprofessional practices publicly, using social media tools and such?

P.S.  On the bright side, there are more and more HR leaders stepping up and trying to reverse some of the nasty, short-sighted, and unproductive practices out there.  One such thought leader?  John Hagen, a top former HR executive at Nordstrom and Via International, among other places.  John and a consortium of other noteworthy corporate leaders just launched a blog called People Thoughts that is seeking to educate companies about the folly of slash-and-burn hiring practices.  Check out his inaugural article here and consider sending him a note of moral support, if you agree with him…