“It’s Not You…It’s Me”: Removing Oneself from the Job Search Process

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    Bill Mattera
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After TPE Onsite concludes, both candidates and employers are working to sort out their “love at first interview” and “thanks, but I'm not interested” feelings. Employers might have it much easier than candidates, especially since candidates who are searching straight out of graduate programs are exceptionally worried about finding that first job. Realizing that you don’t connect with an institution can be one of the most difficult parts of being in the search process. Removing yourself from their process can be challenging, but being transparent can ease some of the stress. 

The most important part of removing yourself from an institution's search process is being honest. No employer is interested in hiring a staff member whose heart isn’t in the process. From the time you sit down at an interview table, you are evaluating how well you connect with that institution and if you desire to continue your candidacy.  Telling prospective employers that you are not interested in a second round interview can seem both confusing and counterproductive, but can be the best thing for both parties. Being up-front about the reason you're deciding to withdraw yourself from consideration is key. Out of politeness, candidates will often tell an employer they "can’t find the time to fit an interview in their schedule", which can backfire. If an institution is really interested in you, they will go out of their way to accommodate you—which, in turn, wastes their time and resources. Instead, choose to part ways by being clear and concise, but always in a professional manner. Thank them for their time, decline the interview, and inform them that your search is taking you in a different direction. A thirty-minute interaction at career placement can be enough time for you to know you didn’t make a good connection with an employer, and that their institution isn’t a place where you see yourself growing and contributing. 

Once you've left TPE Onsite, it can become even harder to remove yourself from a search process if you have invested considerable time into it. You may have had an opportunity to converse with the recruiting coordinator or hiring manager. This person will have a clear understanding of the fact that everyone in the process is looking for their best fit. When removing yourself from a search process, making a phone call to your primary contact and discussing your decision can make the withdrawal process less contentious—and it may leave less room for miscommunication. The employer may ask some questions about what made you realize the experience they're offering wasn’t for you. This information can be helpful for you as you begin to determine the next steps in your search and in helping you articulate what a "good fit" means to you as you seek it. 

Removing oneself from a search process in writing is also appropriate if an institution has not identified a primary recruiting contact, if you are communicating with their human resources department, or if the employer has stated a preference. When doing so, be succinct and cordial. An employer who was excited about your candidacy may choose to write back and wish you luck, or engage in further conversation. Use this as a chance to keep a valuable contact and move to the next phases of your search. 

Don’t be afraid to be direct and let an employer know that you don’t feel a common connection. If you're respectful and direct, you may have a good chance of them keeping you in mind for a future opportunity. 

Bill Mattera is the Assistant Director for Staffing and Organizational Development at LSU. You can connect with him on Twitter @bmattera.

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