Twitter calls viral advice column job shaming and a 'discriminatory, awful idea'

Elise Solé
A hiring manager says forgoing a post-interview thank-you note is a deal breaker. (Photo: Getty Images)
A hiring manager says forgoing a post-interview thank-you note is a deal breaker. (Photo: Getty Images)

A hiring manager’s “simple rule” for job seekers highlighted an invisible bias, according to the red-hot resistance on Twitter.

“Hey, I wrote something!” tweeted Jessica Liebman, the executive managing editor of Business Insider on Friday. “I’ve been hiring people for 10 years, and I still swear by a simple rule: If someone doesn’t send a thank you email, don’t hire them.”

In Liebman’s article, she says thank-you emails are more than a formality — they’re a barometer of a candidate’s enthusiasm for the job.

It signals that the person wants the job — or rather, no thank-you email signals the person probably doesn’t want the job. The handful of times we’ve moved forward with a candidate despite not receiving a thank you, we’ve been ghosted, or the offer we make is ultimately rejected. A few times, the offer is accepted, but the person pulls out before their start date or leaves after a few months. …

How someone presents in interviews might not translate to effectiveness in the role. While sending a thank-you note doesn’t necessarily guarantee the person will be a good hire, it gives you the tiniest bit more data: The candidate is eager, organized, and well mannered enough to send the note. It shows resourcefulness, too, because the candidate often has to hunt down an email address the interviewer never gave them. At Insider Inc., we look to hire ‘good eggs.’ The thank-you email is a mark for the good-egg column.

Many responded to Liebman saying her rule sustains a fear culture between job seekers and managers.

Many hiring managers, including a Supreme Court justice, disagreed with Liebman’s technique.

Alison Green, the author of the popular “Ask a Manager” work-advice website and author of the book of the same name, tweeted, “Hard disagree. And it’ll discriminate against candidates from backgrounds where they don’t get this kind of job search training, which has nothing to do with skills & ability to excel on the job. I like thank-you notes but making them a requirement is a terrible practice.”

Green tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “Requiring a thank-you note highlights this idea that candidates should feel grateful and that managers are gatekeepers.” She adds, “In reality, interviews should be a two-way exploratory conversation in which both sides try to impress each other.”

Thank you emails as a subjective benchmark of a candidates’s enthusiasm or competency can filter out people of different cultures or classes. “People in the U.K., for example, don’t send or receive thank-you notes because it’s seen as pushy,” Green tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “And people from less-advantaged backgrounds tell me they’ve never heard of sending a thank-you note.”

Today, the thank you note is perfunctory and poorly-written, says Green, rather than a quick or meaningful way to clarify interview points or continue a specific conversation. And for corporate roles that traditionally ask candidates to complete large-scale, unpaid projects — and numerous rounds of interviews — the thank-you email could be an invisible hurdle to success.

“Managers should re-consider the old-school biases and cookie-cutter expectations they’re imposing on the hiring process, and instead focus on the true must-have skills and experience for the role,” says Green. “Why should managers require a higher amount of enthusiasm than their return?”

Yahoo Lifestyle reached out to Liebman for comment but did not hear back.

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