Dear J.T. & Dale: I was laid off months ago. As I've looked for work, I have had the following experiences: (A) Have not received a response saying that they received the resume. (Hellooooo?) (B) Received a postcard in the mail thanking me for attending the interview process. (What interview?) (C) Received an e-mail saying, You do not have the required skills for the position you applied for. (Which were exactly my skills and a carbon copy of the job I'd held for years.) I wonder if employers would like to be treated as they treat those looking for work. - Debbie

Dale: In an economy where executives are looking to cut jobs and budgets, they start with the departments that don't produce revenue, like HR. Meanwhile, the number of applicants beseeching HR has soared. So it isn't surprising that the responses you're getting are imperfect. Further, it's not too surprising that HR folks get a bit prickly about the criticism they receive.

J.T.: I wrote a post over at my site,, called Why HR's Just Not That Into You that started an interesting dialogue on the subject. Both sides are angry. But job-hunters actually can use the resentments HR people are feeling to their advantage. I had a client who got a standard rejection letter for a job he was perfect for. He called the company, and instead of complaining, he left a message with the HR department:

Thank you for your letter. I was so interested in your company that when the chance to apply came along, I immediately applied and started holding my breath. While I'm sad I wasn't selected, I know how many equally qualified candidates must have applied. I'm just grateful for you letting me know, and hope there might be another chance to apply in the future.

Well, guess who got a call and an interview? The HR manager at the firm told him they got dozens of angry voice mails and e-mails from people who were appalled at not being chosen, but he was the only nice one.

Dale: Look what happened in that example: He made a human connection. We all know that job-hunting can be dehumanizing; however, Debbie, your story is particularly dehumanizing because you've chosen to avoid human contact. By sitting back and sending out resumes, you've put yourself in the mass of applicants. I suggest you devote 1/10th of your job-search time to sending resumes and 9/10ths to making connections - the job search will turn human when your search does.