Your HR Worst Practices Can Easily Become PR Nightmares

A bit ago I was seeking a new job, so I reached out to a few companies and firms that had products and philosophies I believed in. After several email discussions and interviews, I ultimately chose to work with LEWIS PR in San Francisco (here’s that story if you missed it).

One company had a very impersonal process, but I really liked their brand (enough to be willing to go client-side for). So I filled out their web form application. Never got a response, which I can only assume means they must not be interested. No problem, I get it – my personality or background must not have been what they were looking for, or it’s possible they didn’t like that I basically stated on my resume this isn’t what you should be looking at. That’s on purpose, I don’t want to join a company who wants a bunch of rule followers.

Anyway, I had pretty much forgotten about applying at this company until…

Fast forward 6 months and I get the following boilerplate note from them (company name removed):

Dear Adam,

Thank you for your interest in a role at (company x). After reviewing your background and qualifications, we unfortunately do not feel that this position is a match for you at this time. Should a position become available that is suitable we will contact you. If you have applied for other positions, we will follow up with you on each of them.

We appreciate your interest in (company x) and wish you success in your job search.


The (Company X) Recruiting Team

Ummm…Ok? 6 months later?

Why even bother, their (lack of) response to my original application was basically a no. Now they’re telling me again formally? I think it is inappropriate of them to follow-up at this juncture, their window of time to do that has closed.

The only possible reaction I can have is that I’m glad I don’t work for this company: the time-lapse basically says they don’t really respect me or any potential applicants. And in a world where everything and everyone are media, it is HR worst practices to do this.

  • After 6 months, the chances I already took another position are high.
  • Did they really take 6 months to get to my application? Or 6 months to deliberate that I wasn’t a fit? Or do nothing for 6 months, then decide to look? No matter what their internal situation is: it doesn’t make sense to ask for more applicants if they can’t deal with the ones they have.
  • If they feel a need to follow-up so much later, at least acknowledge the time difference and apologize.

See how easy it would be for me to publicly share this with the specific company name? I could do so just to do something controversial to get links/attention if I wanted.

The lesson? Basically assume your HR process is going to be social and don’t take steps that make you look bad. It’s just not the type of PR you want to be named and shamed for.

Eric Friedman and I were discussing this over the weekend, read his take on following up.