I have two personalities when I’m job searching. There’s Professional Jenni: She’s polished, eager, and super pumped to have one-sided conversations with complete strangers about her weaknesses.
Then there’s Behind-the-Scenes Jenni: She’s frustrated, fed up with applying to jobs that require her to attach her resume and manually insert her job history, and prone to talking back to auto-response emails that thank her for applying because she knows the bot doesn’t mean it.
While there are many head-against-the-wall moments when you’re hunting for your dream job, there are five hiring manager moves in particular that really get under your skin—even when they’re a normal part of the process. So, rather than writing an angry email to someone who’s just informed you that he’s decided to move forward with other candidates, let’s vent together.
1. “We’re Looking for an Entry-Level Candidate With 2 to 4 Years of Experience”
You’re browsing job listings, you spot a position that sounds perfect, and then you see the requirements. Come again? I’m no mathematician, but I’m sure this doesn’t add up. Unless, of course, the company’s looking for someone who has four years of experience, but still performs at an entry-level level.
Sure, maybe someone in HR’s made a mistake, and maybe you can get the real scoop from an insider at the company, but you’ll most likely want to steer clear of these contradictory job postings. You want to work for an organization that’s clear on what purpose it wants this new employee to serve. Think of this as only the first confusing directive you’ll get if you were hired to work there. What’s next? Your boss requesting that you prepare a 10-minute presentation that’s at least 45 minutes long?
2. “This Is Last Minute, But Would You Mind Moving the Interview to Tomorrow?”
Moments after you tell your boss you have an emergency doctor appointment that could last anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours, you get the email that the hiring manager got pulled into a last minute meeting and will need to reschedule. Suddenly you’re back at your desk, your mysterious kidney pain suddenly resolved.
As tempting as it is to respond with a passive aggressive “Sure, that’s fine, you do you, it’s not like I didn’t cancel two meetings today”—you instead go with, “Of course, no problem, let me know what time works best for you tomorrow. I’m totally flexible.” Frustrating? Yes. Understandable? Also, annoyingly so, yes.
With that said, if you’re receiving these emails multiple times from just one hiring manager, consider it a red flag. At best this person works for a company that loves last-minute meetings, at worst he or she’s disorganized and doesn’t value people’s time. And who wants a boss like that?
3. “What’s Your Current Salary?”
Oh man, there are few questions that are harder to answer than this one when it’s asked point blank. On one hand, there’s the truth. On the other hand, there’s the truth-ish. That’s when you give a wide range, as if your current company surprises you each month with how much it deposits.
Um, hm, let me think, I’m currently making around $45,000 to $55,000. But with my anticipated raise this year, it could be anywhere in the $57,000 to $60,000 area.
While discussing salary’s a necessary evil during this process, it’s always awkward when it comes up—because up until that very moment you’ve been pretending like getting paid would just be a perk of working at this awesome company.
The best way to approach this one? Muse author and negotiation expert Victoria Pynchon recommends being honest, but then immediately following up that number with the salary you’re looking for in your next position (all backed up by research, of course).
4. “We’ll Be in Touch Soon”
Yes, if the hiring manager says this and then proceeds to be in touch, that’s great. But so often you hear nothing but crickets. And you slowly drive yourself crazy wondering if you’ve been defining “soon” too narrowly. Perhaps, you say aloud to yourself as you stare into the abyss, soon means four weeks.
Here’s the good news: You’re allowed to follow up on your status. While there’s no guarantee you’ll get a response, you are more likely to receive one if you send a message than if you sit at home stressing out about it. Sure, the response may be that the company’s still in the interview process or that the team’s moving forward with another candidate—regardless, you’ll have an answer, and if it’s negative, you can more quickly mourn it and move on.
Just make sure that when you do follow up, you’re not saying anything that’ll ruin your chances, or Heaven forbid, doing it excessively.
OK, fine, I saved the most nitpicky for last. Also, the most irrational. But when you’re waiting to hear back from a job you really (really!) want, and it’s been more than, um, let’s say five hours since your interview, you start analyzing every little thing—right down to the email signature. (Of course, if you’re me, you’ve already stalked the hiring manager’s social media, hoping to see a tweet along the lines of, “Just interviewed the perfect person for the position, can’t wait to extend an offer!”)
While you can choose to overanalyze every single little thing that your hopefully future employer says, you can also make the choice to not. Sometimes an email sign-off is just an email sign-off, a “Have a good day” is just the person genuinely hoping you have a good day, and “It was nice to meet you, too” is simply the easiest way to acknowledge your thank you note.
When you find yourself getting to this point, it’s better to find a distraction than it is to keep stalking your own inbox. Go outside, get some exercise, treat yourself to a dessert you’d never eat, start watching a new show, buy a book, call a friend, call a frenemy, heck go crazy and call an enemy—sitting around feeling sorry for yourself won’t make the process go any faster.
Finding a new job doesn’t just take time, it takes patience—specifically with all the hiring managers you’ll meet along the way. While you can’t change the way they communicate, you can keep it mind when you’re on the other side (and you will be one day!). Until then, stay strong. There’s a worthwhile interview—and an even more worthwhile job—just around the corner.
Do you also overanalyze emails from hiring managers? Respond aloud to automated emails? Tell me on Twitter!
Jenni Maier was the Editor-in-Chief at The Muse. During her time there, she edited 5,000+ articles and learned more about email subject lines, resume tips, and cover letter opening lines than she could’ve imagined. Her writing has been featured in Fast Company, TIME, Inc., her mother’s Facebook statuses, and more. When she’s not daydreaming about being a dog owner, she’s either working through her Netflix queue or baking. Or, ideally, a combination of both. Say hi on Twitter.More from this Author