How to handle that deafening silence

February 23, 2010 at 1:48 am Leave a comment

One of the most frustrating aspects of a job hunt can be waiting to hear back from a prospective employer. While most applicants recognize that they may never hear anything after sending in a resume or making initial contact, one expects that a hiring manager will get back to them — one way or another — following an interview, right?

Yet several email correspondents recently have suggested that this common-sense expectation may be a thing of the past. Even after one or more interviews, applicants say some hiring managers don’t return emails (let alone phone calls) or will get back to candidates only after lengthy periods — and in some cases,  to provide little more information than that they aren’t sure when they’ll make a decision. What’s a job candidate to do, short of giving up?

Hiring experts say that such deafening silences typically mean one of the following — and here are some strategies job hunters that can employ in these situations:

*The hiring manager is simply busy (aren’t we all?) — and could be disorganized and not particularly skilled at hiring as well. This is often the case. Job hunters should typically add a week or two to the amount of time an interviewer says it will take them to get back to an applicant. Especially in newsrooms these days, where recruiters’ jobs and training budgets for hiring skills have been axed, harried editors are often filling openings between handling copy and managing their staffs. They work on filling jobs “in between” other things and hiring deadlines are often the ones that slip. A strategy to employ: At the end of an interview, get as much information as you (politely) can about when they expect to fill the job, where they are in the hiring process (are you the last candidate to be interviewed? or the first? when did the position open up?) and their deadline for having someone in the job. Ask when you can expect to hear from them and when you should check back with them (they’re not the same thing). Then in your checking-in email, remind them (very politely) of these dates. Emails are always appropriate, phone calls may not be — that could be something to ask at the end of the interview as well.

*The hiring manager doesn’t intend to hire you but for whatever reason, feels uncomfortable telling you that so he or she avoids the conversation. It’s human nature to put off giving bad news and, though it’s bad form (and most trained recruiters tend to get back to all candidates they interviewed at the end of the process) some managers think that applicants will figure out after a while that they didn’t get the job anyway, so why bother with the awkward chat? As for a strategy in this situation, if you feel that the interview didn’t go well or have reason to believe your candidacy has gone off the rails, you may want to email the manager and directly ask if you are no longer being considered for the position. If you do so in a polite and conversational way in which they are not likely to feel defensive, the manager may come clean and tell you that you’re not getting the job (or are highly unlikely to get it). Though that’s not the news you want, at least you’ll have information and will avoid wasting further time or energy on this opening.

*The organization is having trouble deciding among several candidates — including you. In this case, they may be having additional conversations about applicants and may be doing more-extensive-than-usual reference checks, which can take more time. Also, another candidate may have been offered the job and is taking their time deciding whether to accept it. Though you of course wouldn’t know this, it means your candidacy could still be very much alive — as organized hiring processes typically try to identify more than one finalist so that if the organization’s first choice turns down the job, the hiring manager can immediately offer it to the next finalist. (And job offers are rejected more often than you might think, even in this environment.) A strategy here is to remember that no news isn’t always bad news — stay in touch with the organization, continue asking when you should check back and then do so. Eventually, you’ll get some news. And if in the end the manager tells you they’re not hiring you but that they’d like to consider you for future positions, believe them and ask what you should do to be considered for such openings.

*The company isn’t satisfied with the applicant pool or has decided to “go another way” — and may re-post the position or expand the search. Sometimes, candidates find out the organization has done this when they see a job re-posted with slightly different qualifications. In this case, though it’s human nature to feel the company has been somewhat duplicitous, try to ward off these feelings and get information about what is happening with the position. If you’re not successful in getting useful information from official channels, see if your contacts within the organization (or former employees who may still have good contacts there) can determine what is going on. At that point, you can decide whether it makes sense to continue to stay in touch with the company about the job or whether what they want isn’t what you can deliver — in which case, it’s time to move on.

*Congratulations are in order — yet again, I think this is the third time I’ve congratulated him in this space — to Jon Allen, who after a short stint in the political world is, thank godness, returning to journalism. Jon, a top-notch political journalist (with a Dirksen award for congressional coverage!), just days after losing his job at CQ last September as part of the “Gang of 45” landed at POLITICO. In December he announced he was leaving to work for Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s PAC. But as Jon says in his own words in a story for POLITICO, where he is returning as a reporter covering Congress, leaving journalism was the wrong move for him and he sensed it pretty quickly. There’s plenty of food for thought here for journalists thinking about moving on — it’s not all that easy to leave this profession, even when it’s bruised and battered us a bit. In this case, the Hill’s loss is journalism’s gain…Here are the links to Jon’s first-person piece and a piece by POLITICO Editor John Harris on why he took Jon back:


*As always, a variety of leads to pursue — today with a focus on online reporting/editing and broadcast positions:

*With a hat tip to, the Urban Land Institute in D.C. is looking for an online editor to help launch a new magazine:

Urban Land Institute
Industry Non-profit
Benefits 401K/403B, Dental, Health
Job Duration Full Time
Job Location Washington, DC USA
Job Requirements Do you:
Have a knack for finding the story, the surprise angle, and the human element in every written piece you encounter?

Instinctively look at a topic through the lenses of different audiences, focusing on whats relevant while screening out the rest?

Carry a contagious spirit of We can do this, turning your colleagues into storytelling co-conspirators?

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) is launching an online magazine this spring to complement its flagship print edition, Urban Land. We’re looking for a sharp, seasoned online editor to plan, assign, write and edit articles, partnering with the print magazine team.

ULI is a global, member-based nonprofit with headquarters in Washington, DC. Our members include real estate developers, city and county planners, experts in transit, finance, sustainability, design in short, all the disciplines needed to build and sustain thriving communities. With your help, we’ll deliver content that’s timely, compelling, and relevant for our members, using the web to its best potential. Come join us!


Plans and executes the publication of ongoing content for Urban Land online.
Oversees editorial and art production of Urban Land online, managing workflow through editorial and art departments.
Helps establish the editorial budget for the online magazine, and manages to that budget.
Works with all ULI staff and other stakeholders to ensure that the content of the online magazine meets the business goals.
Develops and manages editorial calendar, assigns articles to writers/contributors, and oversees the processes for editing, reviews, approvals, and publication of content. Ensures that content meets ULI editorial guidelines.
Oversees design of articles and sections for online magazine, working within templates and framework of ULI Art Director.
Partners with ULIs Membership and Marketing teams to gather and interpret visitor satisfaction via readership surveys, renewal feedback, etc. Also to coordinate timing and messaging with ULIs primary web site,
Partners with web support staff who specialize in content publishing via Content Management System
Negotiates rates with freelance writers and other content contributors



Centers of Policy & Practice
ULI Fellows
Advertising Department
Production Dept.
Membership and Marketing Depts.
ULI Product and District Councils
ULI regional offices

Freelance Writers, photographers
News- and data-feed providers, to manage content partnerships when applicable


B.A. in Journalism, English, or Communications.
Minimum of 7 years experience in the web-based publishing field, including 3 years planning, assigning and/or editing content contributed by others.

Skills needed:
Strong writing and editing for web, and a deep understanding of how people interact with materials online headlines, blurbs, links, etc.
A knack for blending audio, visuals and text, and for using the web effectively to tell stories and engage audiences.
Solid task management (tracking and follow-up of assigned tasks) and attention to detail
Ability to meet deadlines and handle multiple projects simultaneously
Ability to listen, collaborate and negotiate effectively with many stakeholders
Working knowledge of content management systems and HTML
Confidence with Microsoft Office, Adobe product, graphics editing tools, blogging and social media tools

Other desirable skills experience:
Video production/editing for online delivery
A proven track record in creating and managing a web site
Deep knowledge of the Internet and its best practices
Experience working in a real-time news environment is desirable
Knowledge of the land use, planning and real estate industry
Experienced with Adobe publishing products, blog tools, online CMS, XHTML, CSS and XML

To apply: Please send cover letter, resume, and salary requirement to

About Our Company Please visit our website, for more information.

*The Center for American Progress in D.C. has a variety of openings (see the link below) including a reporter/blogger position for

Reports to: Research Director

Department: Communications

Staff reporting to this position: None

Position classification: Exempt, Full-Time


The Center for American Progress Action Fund has an immediate opening for a Reporter/Blogger to work with the research team that produces, The Progress Report, and other research products.

Job responsibilities

  • Write content for the blog
  • Write content for the daily newsletter The Progress Report.
  • Assist with various research projects.
  • Other tasks as assigned

Job requirements

  • Strong research, writing experience.
  • Familiarity with, The Progress Report, and the progressive blogosphere.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment.
  • Ability to quickly respond to news developments.

Job qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree.
  • Knowledge of HTML, Photoshop, RSS, social networking/bookmarking, and media monitoring services helpful, but not required.

Preferred experience

  • One to two years experience in journalism, policy/policy research, or policy blogging.

Additional Information

American Progress operates two separate nonprofit organizations to maximize our progressive agenda: The Center for American Progress and the Center for American Progress Action Fund. This job posting refers collectively to the two organizations under the name “American Progress.” The Center for American Progress is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) tax-exempt research and educational institute. It undertakes research, public education and a limited amount of lobbying. The Center for American Progress Action Fund is a non-partisan 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization dedicated to achieving progress through action. It works to transform progressive ideas into policy through rapid response communications, legislative action, grassroots organizing, political advocacy, and partnerships with other progressive leaders. The organizations share office space and employees.

American Progress provides a competitive compensation and benefits package.

American Progress is an equal opportunity employer; women, minorities, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

For more information on the Center for American Progress, please go to

For more information on the Center for American Progress Action Fund, please go to

To apply, simply e-mail your Word resume and cover letter attachments to:

Or you may write to:
Center for American Progress
1333 H Street, NW, 10th Floor – Communications Search
Washington, DC 20005

In your correspondence, please reference the exact title of the job you are applying for in the subject line. This announcement will remain posted until the position is filled. No phone calls please.

Please note that only those individuals whose qualifications match the current needs of this position will be considered applicants and will receive responses from American Progress.

*With a hat tip to, AARP in D.C. has openings for several channel editors to direct content for various subject areas on its retooled Web site:

Company: AARP
Channel Editor
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
March 26, 2010
Job ID: 1150777

Channel Editors Location: Washington, DC AARP, publisher of the largest circulation print magazine in the U.S., is retooling its website, and seeking several experienced and skilled consumer-facing journalists to lead the online content channels. Reporting directly to the online executive producer in our Washington DC office, the successful candidates will be top-notch editorial thinkers and producers, able to conceive and create great content (practical, inspirational, and aspirational) for people striving to live their best lives after age 50.

Must have significant editorial and management (people management as well as project management) experience in news (preferably daily) and/or features, including several years in a web environment; must play extremely well with others (up, down, and sideways) in a complex organization that is not a pure publishing/content play; and must be utterly unflappable. Specialized knowledge of one or more of our prime content areas (health, food, personal finance, work, lifelong learning, entertainment, travel, social activism, state and national legislative developments, relationships, home and garden, volunteering, and technology), especially through a 50+ prism, is a huge plus.

Qualified candidates are invited to apply on-line at: (refer to: Channel Editor – DSO).

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer that values workplace diversity. We offer competitive benefits with a 401K, 100% company funded pension plan, health, dental, vision, and life insurance, STD/LTD, paid vacation and sick, and other benefits.

*SmartBrief in D.C. is looking for an editor (the hat tip on this is also to to create online business email publications in the health industry:

Company: SmartBrief, Inc.
Health Editor
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
March 25, 2010
Job ID: 1143139

Full-time health editor

SmartBrief is seeking a full-time editor to help create daily online business and consumer news e-mail publications in the health industry. Applicant must have two to five years of experience writing or editing health news. If you love to edit material and shape content, and thrive in a fast-paced, deadline-intensive work environment, you’ll fit right in. This position includes both writing and editing duties, with a heavy focus on editing. Other job duties include cultivating industry expertise and client relationship management. This position is located in SmartBrief’s Washington, D.C., office.

Selected applicants will be asked to complete a timed writing and editing test.

Job Duties: • Edit summaries for inclusion in SmartBrief’s health newsletters for grammar, style and tone for a particular audience. • Manage off-site freelancers. • Use online publishing tools to create e-mail newsletters and other content. • Manage relationships with associations, corporations and other business clients as well as content providers. • Respond to reader comments and suggestions. • Participate in cross-departmental projects as needed. Required Skills & Experience: • Proven writing and editing skills. Alternative: Three to five years of experience in a communications or research role with a news organization, consulting firm, trade association or other relevant group. • Ability to write and edit quickly and accurately on deadline. • Sophisticated understanding of how to find news and information for a particular audience. • Facility for using online publishing tools. • Strong interpersonal and communications skills. • Proven record of taking initiative, sharing responsibilities and managing multiple projects simultaneously. • Ability to analyze reader trends and statistics.

About SmartBrief:

SmartBrief is a leading online business publisher of 100-plus industry-specific daily business news services. By combining our proprietary technology with human intelligence, we deliver digestible knowledge to keep industry decision-makers abreast of their industries.

We’re expanding rapidly and looking for exceptional, motivated talent to join our team. At SmartBrief, employees enjoy an entrepreneurial work environment with accelerated advancement opportunities. We offer competitive compensation along with outstanding benefits, including stock options, 401(k), and 100% company-paid health care.

SmartBrief is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Please e-mail resumes to Place the following in the subject line: SmartBrief Health Editor. Candidates must include (in body of email) most recent position held and salary requirements.

*The next two leads, from, are in the radio world. The first is for a morning co-host for Frederick, Md.’s  WAFY-FM:

WAFY-FM Frederick, MD is in need of a new morning co-host. Our current co-host, Dave Gunning, was promoted to Program Director at WAFY. We are looking for relatable personalities – not DJs or liner readers) who understand connecting with the audience while moving the station forward. If this is you, please send your mp3 and resume to: No call please, EOE (2/19/10)

*And last but not least,104.9/105.5-FM in Winchester, Va., has an opening for a full-time announcer/producer:

104.9/105.5 the Bone in Winchester VA is hiring a full time Announcer/Producer. Duties include: – Producing the Free Beer and Hot Wings show… – News and Sports reading and gathering… – Voice tracking a daily shift… – Commercial production… – Promotions assistance… – Assisting the news department… The ideal candidate will: – have prior commercial radio experience, preferably in a digital environment… – be comfortable working with automation and editing software… – understand how to contribute to and thrive in a team oriented environment… – have excellent organizational skills… This is the perfect opportunity for someone looking for his or her first full time radio job. 104.9/105.5 The Bone is a Heritage Rock in Winchester VA just a stone’s throw from Washington DC and Baltimore. We offer a competitive salary and an outstanding benefits package. Please send audio, cover letter, resume, references and salary requirements to: Brian Beddow, WXBN/WXNB Program Director, 520 N. Pleasant Valley Rd, Winchester, VA 22601. Email packages to Please call me to introduce yourself once you have sent a complete package: 540-667-2224 Brian Beddow. Centennial Broadcasting II, LLC is an equal opportunity employer.

Good luck on the hunt!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

The curse of being “overqualified” It’s not only what you say but how you say it

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