Last week, I found a job opening posted in a local nonprofit resource site with an organization I will not name. The person who held the position had taken a job with an organization I interviewed with when I first got to town, so I thought it would be rather ironic if I got this position.
I called the organization to confirm the position was still open and left a voicemail for the HR Director asking her to return my calls to find out more information. When I didn’t hear back from her right away, I thought I would play it safe and wrote my cover letter and sent it in along with my resume. I then contacted a couple of Board members I am connected to and let them know I was applying for the position, and both of them were amenable to talking to the director on my behalf. I then followed up and tried to contact the HR Director again and left another voicemail which was not returned.
Today, I heard from one of my contacts on the Board and was told the position was filled. I was disappointed because I didn’t have the opportunity to make my case as to why I would be the best candidate. I was also unhappy that the HR Director made no attempt to do me the courtesy of returning my calls. It would have taken two to three minutes to simply say, “We have already held the interviews and decided on someone” even though the ad did not give a timeline of when the application period closed or when interviews would be held. I would have been fine if I got the call.
When I informed my parents of the situation, my mother was livid. She had been involved with that organization for years, and my parents had contributed to that organization financially for decades. (When I met the former Development Director earlier in the summer, she asked if I was related to my parents and was quite pleased to meet me because of my parents’ generosity).
My mother decided then and there that the organization would not get a single dime of support from them in the future. Knowing my mother, she will tell all her friends who are also supporters about this situation, and try to get them to stop their support too. I have talked to her, trying to smooth her ruffled feathers, because I do not want this organization to suffer because of the poor performance of their HR Department. I hope that I have gotten that through to her, but my mother can be as stubborn as a mule, and as protective as a mother bear.
As I wrote in the original post over a year ago, How Bad PR Performance Creates Bad Fundraising Opportunities, “When people make the effort to apply for a position with an organization, they deserve to be acknowledged in a timely manner, not ignored. I understand that HR departments get dozens, scores, or even hundreds of applications for each job opening, but that does not excuse them from treating their applicants disrespectfully.” Unfortunately, stories like this are quite common, and make the whole nonprofit sector seem unprofessional.
Something I learned during my days in sales and customer service is that when a customer (or donor) gets great service, they tell a few friends about their experience. When a customer (or donor) has a bad experience like not getting a timely call or no response to their inquiries, they tell dozens of people. This HR professional’s failure to do the simplest of things has threatened the support of dozens of the organization’s supporters.
To be honest, I feel very sorry for the individual the organization just hired. She has just had her job made even more difficult because of the HR Director’s failure to pick up the phone.