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HR person ‘fessed up. They ‘lost’ my resume.

headline illustration and suspenders by Franke James, MFA. Cartwheeling acrobat ©istockphoto.com/ZoneCreative

Dear Office Politics,

I work for a customer service call center and I have recently started looking for a new job while still being employed with my current one (why I’m leaving will probably have to be discussed in another email).

I have heard good things about one particular company from a few associates. When I saw that the same company was looking for a new QA for one their start-up accounts, I decided to try my luck (I am also a QA in my current job, wherein I handle a similar account). I applied online and submitted an electronic resume. I was given a call a few days later and was asked to come in for an initial interview.

Anyway, I seem to have impressed my interviewers and they said I was shortlisted for a final interview. I was, however, given a bit of a warning: the position would not be needed for another 3 months or so, and the scheduled final interview would still be a few weeks away… Sure enough, I was called back and they had scheduled me for a meeting that was around 4 weeks away from the date of the call.

The date of the interview finally arrived. However, once I was at their office, nobody seemed to know why I was there. After a while one of the HR personnel approached me and said that all final interviews were postponed for a yet-to-be-determined date, but told me they had called all the candidates and informed them of this. After I had told them that had not gotten any callbacks about a cancellation (I was angry at that point for having to come in to do nothing, but I still kept my cool), I asked them what the next step was. They said all candidates would get another call for the final interview.

Days turned to weeks, and still no phone call. After about a month, I decided to call the company and follow up on my application. The person I talked to took my name and the position I was applying for, and said that they’d call me within the week. I still didn’t get a call despite that promise.

I called one more time, and was told something that caught me off-guard: that I was not chosen for the position and that they had already picked someone else. I told them of what’s been going on (in a nice way, of course), and explained to them that I wasn’t even included in the final interview.

With that, the HR person finally ‘fessed up. The person who was handling my application quit and the job wasn’t transitioned properly. They had essentially ‘lost’ my resume. They gave me the usual “we’ll keep your file in our active list…” speech, but I know I’ve just lost my opportunity.

I have my doubts that this is just “one of those things that fell through the cracks”, given the fact that the resume I submitted was electronic. So they can’t really “lose” it unless they wanted to (which is why I explained above that I didn’t just email it). I had offered a paper resume during my initial meeting, but they said the online one was enough. I also did several follow ups on my application, so even assuming that something DID happen to my resume, they had the opportunity to ask me to send them another one.

I know I don’t really have a right to complain, given that I’m not even their employee, but it still disheartens me to know that these things happen. And even as an outsider, I feel I have to do something to address this.

So my questions: Is this a sign of incompetency insofar as their HR? Or just my bad luck? Did I inadvertently dodge a bullet with this, wanting to part of company that doesn’t even have its application process straightened out? Is this, in turn, a reflection of how the company works? Should I even bother escalating this to their HR head? Should I just let this go? Move on, and just chalk it up to a bad experience? Is there something else I could have done so this thing doesn’t happen to me again?


Dissatisfied Job seeker

franke james

Dear Job seeker,

You are a lucky guy. Here’s my take on it.

1. They goofed.
If this employer is so incompetent as to lose your resume, and so convoluted in their explanation as to what was happening, they would be a nightmare to work for. Chalk it up to experience. Be happy and move on. Consider yourself lucky.

2. Raise your sights.
Develop a 5 year marketing plan for yourself that targets your dream industry — and helps you to get your foot in the door. A book I recommend often is Dreamcrafting: The Art of Dreaming Big, the Science of Making It Happen. It can help you imagine and plan how to get the job of your dreams. You can also read Tom Peters book The Brand You 50 : Or : Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an ‘Employee’ into a Brand That Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion! It’s not a new book, but there is some solid marketing thinking in there (the loud typography is vintage Peters).

How do you prevent it from happening next time?

Your resume did get through to HR but then somehow went astray. Life isn’t fair. How could you have predicted that the HR person would be let go? You couldn’t have.

Wear a belt and suspenders

But a ‘belt and suspenders’ attitude might have protected you. I’m that type of person — I actively look for ways to ensure that things don’t slip through the cracks. (This has been learned through annoying experiences like yours.) The best way to ensure your message gets through is to use multiple methods to hold up your pants.

1. Submit via the website
2. In communications with the company attach your resume to an email saying “For your convenience here is the resume I submitted online.”
3. Send an email confirming the interview day and time. Phone to make sure they got it and the interview is on.
4. Mail a hard copy and use the opportunity to express your keen interest in the job.

Good luck! You have a great opportunity to find the right job — go for it. Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.com. (A double-check — Please send me a quick note to let me know your received this! And if it was helpful.)


Franke James, MFA
Editor & Founder, Office-Politics.com
Inventor, The Office-Politics® Game


Franke James, MFA is the Editor & Founder of Office-Politics.com. She is also the Inventor of The Office-Politics® Game a dilemma-based social game that teaches you how to play, and laugh, at office politics. It’s used by HR departments, and corporate trainers worldwide. The Office-Politics Dilemmas have been inspired by the hundreds of letters submitted to Office-Politics.com.

  1. One Answer to “HR person ‘fessed up. They ‘lost’ my resume.”

  2. Feedback from Job seeker:

    Good day Franke,

    Yes, I did get your response.

    I was just amazed on how quick and efficient it was.

    I was even more amazed that you followed your own advice on the ‘belt and suspenders’ attitude (by replying twice just to make sure I got your response).

    Thank you for your advice and yes, it was very helpful.

    Thanks again for giving me your insight in my situation.

    I appreciate it!

    By Letter writer on Mar 6, 2008

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