A Hire Ground reader sent me an e-mail about a human resources person not responding after she had a great phone screen. Maybe you can relate?

“About a week ago, I posted my resume to the website of a large Fortune 500 company and was surprised and pleased to receive an e-mail from HR the next day regarding a couple of job openings. I responded the following day with a resume and cover letter targeted to one of the positions. The HR woman and I arranged for a phone screen the following day.”

Our reader goes on to say that she thought the phone screen went well and because of her past experience, she made sure to ask what the next steps were. The HR person told her that she was the first person interviewed and would know by close of business the next day whether or not she would move forward. Our reader waited a couple of days to send a “thank you” e-mail, following up with a voicemail the day after. She was trying to balance showing genuine interest and excitement without coming across like a desperate job-seeker.

“So, when an HR person tells me they will get back to me and they don’t, what would you suggest next? I doubt I’m the only person this has happened to.”

Here is what I told her:

It’s unfortunate that we live in a polite town where it’s easier to ignore people and hope they will go away than to say “no.”

The fact that you were called first worked against you because there was no one to compare you to and after the end of that day, they had already forgotten your responses.

Depending on the size of the company – and, in your case, it’s a large one — they phone screen at least 50 to 100 candidates before scheduling three in-person interviews. The fact that you waited to thank her has nothing to do with their non-responsiveness. It’s probably the fact that you were interviewed first.

Chances are, however, that there were other suitable candidates who were a closer match in terms of culture, background, education and experience. It’s a common problem we’re facing with this 10 percent unemployment rate.

What I suggest is to keep the lines of communication open (without looking or sounding desperate), and chances are the door will remain open for you to get another chance at this or a future opportunity.

Here’s what I later heard back from our reader:

“I took a deep breath (after ranting to friends and family as well) and sent a nice happy status request e-mail … and the HR person responded with, ‘Yes, you’re still a candidate and we are still coordinating with our hiring manager.’ ”

It’s great that our reader got a response to her follow-up. Unfortunately, this won’t be the outcome for everyone. But I’ve written about candidates finding employment after they were rejected, so keeping in touch with companies is always a good practice.

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