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Why a Communication Breakdown Can Increase Feelings of Rejection

Posted by Dave Bolton

We have all experienced a communication breakdown. Whether that be with a vendor who promises more than they can deliver, a company that simply fails to communicate accurate information or even friends and family. And as our society has become more tech-centric, the basic fundamentals of human communication are being lost in the digital world.

 

Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago, an email popped into my inbox that piqued my curiosity. The average person receives an average of 120 emails a day, according to HubSpot, and it is likely that most of these messages are either ignored or deleted. Getting somebody’s attention is hard, even more so when that person is not expecting some form of applicant communication.

 

The email title was short and to the point. “Impressive Background” it said. Nothing more, nothing less. I was intrigued, so I opened the email. The message was from a recruiter and asked if I was active on the job market. If so, the blurb continued, then there was an opportunity for me to discuss a position with a “prestigious Fortune 500 client,” and asked if I was interested in learning more.

 

Ticking Communication Boxes

 

Having appealed to my ego, I decided to take this further.

 

I read the overview of what the client was looking for and my skills ticked most (not all) of the boxes. All I had to do was send my resume via email or LinkedIn and the recruiter would be in touch. The fact that this person had apparently viewed my “admirable background” through LinkedIn made me think that this was more than just someone sending out random messages. Which was my first mistake.

 

The next day, we exchanged emails again and we agreed to a phone call three days later. On the day in question, there was a degree of radio silence which concerned me, but I patiently waited for the call. Which never came. As I was due to fly to California a day later, I decided not to phone the Chicago-based recruiter myself. Mistake number two.

 

Upon landing at LAX, I turned on my phone and saw that I had a missed call from a number that I did not recognize. Visual voicemail had transcribed a message which was from the recruiter and confirmed that we had a scheduled time for that day.

 

As I was interested in the potential opportunity, I responded and said that I had set aside time the day before for this call but was still willing to talk later. The recruiter was full of apologies and agreed to reschedule for the next day at 11 am PST. Third mistake.

 

11 am came and went. I had to leave my hotel for an appointment and sent the recruiter a message saying that I would be around until 1 pm PST. Cue radio silence again. By this point, I was feeling more annoyed than rejected, but I put this down to a communication breakdown.

 

The next day, I received another text message that informed me that she had been sick and was out of the office at the time of the second scheduled call. Displaying the patience of a saint. I suggested that we try for a third time one day later. The recruiter was happy to do this and we agreed on a time (12 pm PST). Guess what? At midday, I waited by my phone, which stayed silent.

 

And this time, there was no follow-up message or explanation as to why this call never happened. Over the course of a week, I was contacted, courted and then ghosted. All of which left me feeling less than charitable to a person I never met or even spoke to. To date, I have still not received anything further from this individual, and it appears from my research that position has now been filled.

 

Communication Is A Two-Way Street

 

I have two theories. First, the recruiter had decided that it was OK to ghost a potential applicant as no actual communication ever happened. Second, the content of her messaging seemed to indicate that time zones were a problem … she told me in a text message that she had 2 PM PST/12 PM CST in her calendar, for example.

 

Irrespective of whether or not the recruiter actually wanted to talk to me, the overall feeling I had after this experience was one of rejection. The irony of the situation is that I was not the one who instigated the conversation in the first place.

 

Rejection is part of life, I get that. And while rejection may suck, there are valuable lessons to be learned, especially in terms of the applicant journey and the need for quick, consistent communication.

 

Common wisdom dictates that any job role can take months to close. The applicant journey may start with just providing a resume but there is an expectation that this simple act will be enough to pique a company’s interest and, hopefully, move a candidate further down the pipeline. In a perfect world, a communication loop is established from day one, with candidates kept informed as to where they are in the hiring process.

 

Sadly, we do not live in this applicant communication utopia. Over 50% of job applicants are still waiting for a response from potential employers more than two months after they submitted their initial application. At the same time, studies have shown that in-demand talent stays on the market for around 10 days, which puts the onus on companies to make sure that people are not left hanging in the air.

 

Leveraging A Connecting Society

 

When you take into account that the connected society has provided us with instant communication portals such as text messaging and chat-based apps, then the onus is on companies to make certain that people are not left hanging in the air. An automated response, for example, can go a long way in keeping the applicant informed, even more so if that message is delivered to the ubiquitous computer in the pocket.

 

People expect to have access to both communication tools and digital platforms (computers, smartphones and tablets) on a 24/7 basis. Add into the mix that American adults, according to a recent Nielsen study, spend almost four hours every day in digital mediums—62% of which is spent on smartphones—and the concept of consistent communication should not be an issue.

 

Ultimately, recruiters and hiring companies have a decision to make. To take advantage of talent communication platforms that create an engaging and delightful experience for the applicant or continue to leverage traditional hiring processes that can leave a person feeling frustrated by a lack of contact, especially if that increases the sense of rejection via a communication breakdown.

 

ConveyIQ’s candidate communication platform can alleviate these feelings. Companies can manage and improve the relationship with applicants via text, email and curated content that will allow people to feel engaged throughout the duration of the hiring process. For more information as to how ConveyIQ can make the applicant journey a two-way street, please contact us for a demo.