Hired... now, radio silence. Huh?
July 24, 2013 11:01 AM   Subscribe

I've accepted it and I'm moving on, but I can't get this out of my head. I interviewed for a job and a few weeks later got an e-mail and follow-up phone call, telling me they wanted to hire me. They said "send us your availability," so I did. It was the end of that work week, and I checked in again at the start of the next week. They said "we're working out the logistics; we'll get back to you." That was over a week ago. I've heard nothing since.

This is for a small food-service operation. There's no HR department, just the owners and the chef. I assume that if they had checked my references and got a bad one, the reference would have contacted me to say "don't use me anymore," or the new job would say "thanks but no thanks," but who knows? I know you're not clairvoyant, but what might be going on here? Like I said, I'm not holding my breath waiting for any further contact, but this has never happened to me before and I'm weirded out.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (15 answers total)
This is for a small food-service operation. There's no HR department, just the owners and the chef.

They are squeezing in moonlighting as HR around their day jobs. When you're a small shop, even when you need a new employee, actually bringing one on and doing the paperwork, training, supervising, whatever, it's so much extra work. They basically need another employee to have time to hire an employee.

If you get another offer, you should probably take it. Otherwise you could contact them a third time and ask if there's something you can help them do to get you started.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:10 AM on July 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Nearly this exact thing happened to me just a few days ago, I almost thought i'd somehow written this askme!

It's puzzling because you expect that if they didn't want to hire you they wouldn't hire you, or at least would call or email to say that they needed to withdraw the offer.

I'm operating on the assumption that the person in charge went on vacation or had some sort of life crisis, and that I've been forgotten.

Of course, especially with small businesses, people can just be dicks. They don't show up when they say they will, they agree to buy something and never pick it up, they say you're hired and never bother to tell you that they've changed their minds- because even though it's a huge priority for you, for them it's not very important, and they're acting like a person and not like a business.
posted by windykites at 11:12 AM on July 24, 2013

It's been a week? They could very well just be disorganized; maybe there's a partner who has to approve it, or maybe there's some sort of other backup.

For instance, at my organization, it can sometimes take a few weeks between when we make our decision and when we make an offer. This is because of HR, but in a smaller firm, someone has to do the stuff HR would normally do, so it's not crazy that they would take the same amount of time to actually make an offer. Maybe the person hiring went on vacation (this happened to me once).

If this is the case, they definitely should not have told you that they definitely wanted to hire you, but again, it may just be that they're not the most professional/organized.

On the less positive note, it may be that someone wanted to hire someone else, it may be that it turns out there isn't the money for the position, it may be that the person who told you they wanted to hire you didn't actually have the power to make that decision.
posted by lunasol at 11:15 AM on July 24, 2013

Were it me, I'd be a hair devious. I'd send the following email, "Dear prospective employer, I'm really excited about starting work with you and am still awaiting the paperwork and a start date. I do need to intensify the urgency however, since I've now received another offer. I really want to work with you, I'm excited by X and Y. If circumstances have changed, that's fine, then I'll weigh the other offer, if not, please let me know when I can expect to receive my hiring packet."

Now there's something they might lose. Either way, it should jog loose a response.

But, you may want to move on, who wants to work with flakes like this?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:17 AM on July 24, 2013 [8 favorites]

Since they said they want to hire you and are just working out the logistics, I would not hesitate to contact them again as soon as possible. And I would continue to do so once a week until I either got the job or was told to stop contacting them. You need to make sure you continue to be in their heads.

That said, if something else comes along, grab it.
posted by DMelanogaster at 11:21 AM on July 24, 2013

If you want the job, or want to the status of the hiring process (like whether you have been passed over), pick. up. the. phone.

Please consider a few realities of job search and employment generally:

If a company gets a bad reference on a potential hire, chances are that the potential hire will never find out. People are afraid of lawsuits, among other things.

A person who gives a bad reference isn't like to extend a courtesy to the individual in question to let that individual know he / she shouldn't use the reference anymore.

People in small companies without a lot of infrastructure tend to be very busy, and sometimes it takes them forever to finish a hiring project or any project not of immediate necessity.

For a variety of reasons, see #3 above for large companies.

Not all companies let candidates know that they have been passed over for a job. Yes, it is rude, but it is what it is.

Email is great. But don't rely on it. For anything. Nothing beats in-person or telephone contact for efficiency and immediacy. You can communicate a lot more information with far greater accuracy in a lot less time through voice contact than through typing away on a keyboard.

If you want to know where something stands -- like a theoretical job offer, pick up the phone and ask! This will demonstrate initiative as well as reinforce your interest in the position. What you are doing now is assuming a passive stance and waiting for other people to solve your quandary for you.
posted by cool breeze at 11:29 AM on July 24, 2013

You will get this job. Relax.
A week is nothing in the world of small business. You may even be contacted over the weekend.
posted by Kruger5 at 12:10 PM on July 24, 2013

If you call them, don't do it during a busy time. I'd suggest going ahead and calling, though.

You might even want to go visit them if it's convenient and if it's a warm, friendly, owner operated establishment.
posted by amtho at 12:12 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Certainly possible this is just disorganization/busy, but I'd suggest that you consider this a precursor to what it may be like working with them. Are they going to continue to not find time to communicate with basic courtesy with you once they're paying you?
posted by phearlez at 12:14 PM on July 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

Likely just small business stuff, where no one has time right now to deal with all the work required
to hire you.
Go in or call when you know it won't be super busy (Do it today!)
Continue applying for new jobs.
posted by Snazzy67 at 12:24 PM on July 24, 2013

I had one of these and they kept flaking out on getting back to me. I eventually decided it was probably better not to work for them if they were going to be this difficult to even get started with. Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:26 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: From the OP:
I did get an offer for a different job just yesterday, and this new job has already discussed pay with me and gave me an employee handbook. They hired me on Tuesday and are starting me on Friday once the boss gives the final OK and I've signed all the documents. These people don't have an HR person either, but they somehow managed to have their act together.

To the person who wrote "pick up the phone" -- I did that as recently as Friday. I left a voicemail to check in, and have gotten no response as of Wednesday afternoon. Crickets. I'm not hopeful at this point.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:07 PM on July 24, 2013

Well great. I was just about to say keep looking, because even if these flakes get back to you they will, most likely, continue to be too busy for basic communication. Not saying it's their fault, but it would be very uncomfortable for you all the time.

Enjoy the new, actual job.
posted by tel3path at 5:14 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had a boss who liked to interview people for fun, without an open position and/or any intention of hiring the person. It's more likely these people are just flakes, though.
posted by nobejen at 5:17 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

OP, glad to hear things worked out for you.

Phearlez's reasoning will serve you especially well in the foodservice industry, where employers' sense of entitlement is bottomless.
posted by STFUDonnie at 10:12 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older Help me get wonderful food to our guests.   |   For how much can I sell this stained-glass pendant... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.