Bad HR Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Recruiters and hiring managers regularly ghost job candidates. You know how it works–candidate comes in, interviews, sometimes multiple times and then the recruiter never, ever gets back to the candidate again. Emails are unanswered. Phone calls are ignored. And no one in Human Resources cared.

Employees have started ghosting their employers. Managers are shocked when someone just stops showing up. 

Human Resources requires people to attend diversity training that, Peter Bregman CEO of Bregman Partners, not only doesn’t work, it makes the problem worse. Instead of learning how to get along with people, we learn to put people into boxes. 

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11 thoughts on “Bad HR Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

  1. The only thing keeping me from ghosting recent prior employer was that my Midwestern city is fairly tight-knit, at least in terms of technology management. So, formally, companies will only confirm employment dates, but there’s certainly informal discussion among managers that dampens hiring prospects. But, I’ve done it once before in a different city, and I’d do it again because the hiring process is *notorious* for “HR ghosting”. Twice (different companies) in the past 3 years I’ve had a phone-screen set up with HR, and s/he just never answered, nor responded to my follow-up voicemails. HR Karma: I like it!

    1. I suspect what you describe doesn’t often last long, because good HR people don’t like working for bad bosses any more than anyone else. So while I’m sure it happens, I suspect that companies run by such people tend to accumulate more than their share of bad HR people. Many things roll downhill.

      (I’m not sure what the law is elsewhere, but in California, the HR people can incur a certain personal liability for allowing illegal behavior to continue, same as the managers from top to bottom. Or so I’ve been taught at my anti-harassment training.)

      Which makes me wonder how often HR people ghost their employers.

  2. Suzanne – you did not mention that many times HR is the voice of reason – but Management does not listen and does what they want. While I agree that there are plenty of terrible HR people out there, the good ones often just get overruled at their organizations. They try their best to do their jobs and the right thing. It’s not fair to tell them to do their jobs, when the probably are, but are not allowed to. I’ve found this to be true at several organizations and I’ve left because of it. As an HR practioner – you need to be fair about this.

    1. I was the retaliatory casualty of a #MeToo situation. I was fired, and while I think my manager was the one with blood on her hands, the HR rep came out smelling like a stinking corpse too. HR blatantly lied to my face and treated me like trash because they decided to toe the company line.

      I know that there are decent HR folks out there, but those of us that have been mistreated will *never* trust anyone in HR again. Ever.

    2. True. But ghosting is definitely on HR – it’s generally not a company policy to do that. It’s just incompetent or lazy HR.

  3. My wife resigned her last job with no notice. She didn’t exactly ghost but she went in and declared she had resigned and handed in her building key. She was in a sales role and the last fellow who resigned was not paid outstanding commissions. My wife waited until her commissions were paid and then said goodbye.

    I had an unexpected job search last fall and exactly one company where I interviewed but wasn’t selected bothered to get back to me. I wrote about it here:

  4. UGH
    I hate being ghosted after an interview. It’s no big deal if I don’t hear back after simply applying, although I know it’s fairly easy to send a form email to candidates who aren’t selected to come in. But if I’ve taken the time to prepare, travel to your office, and talk to you, it’s rude not to acknowledge that. My tendency is to put companies that ghost on a never-apply-there-again list.

  5. Ah, diversity training and putting people into categories.

    I had a good friend who somehow managed to raise her daughter without labels. Then, when she picked her up from kindergarten on her very first day of school, her daughter came out crying. She said, “Mommy, I’m BLACK.”

    My friend told me at lunch the next day, “What was I supposed to say?” “Honey, I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you????”

    Note to those who may be thinking this: my friend and her family are definitely ‘black’, no pretending otherwise, which is why I was so impressed that they had managed to avoid that particular label so long for their children.

    1. And I miss her dearly. We lost her to breast cancer almost eight years ago. But what an example she set for her three daughters and all those around her!

  6. Some harassment cases are ignored for the same reason police may ignore most of the rape complaints they get: many of the complainers are lying, and the law against retaliation guarantees that they’ll never be so much as reprimanded for it. So long as the law is this one-sided, *of course* complainers are going to get the deniable brush-off, just as ADA has caused people requesting accomodation to become unemployable.

    There is no substitute for due process and accountability. And if the law forbids them, the marketplace will find ways to work around it.

  7. HR pros get ghosted by recruiters too! We also offer fantastic advice that is sometimes not followed. The risk very well could have been discussed and weighed. Just because a Company decided that a “people risk” was worth taking doesn’t mean that no one in HR spoke up.

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