Is This Response From Recruiters The New ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me?’

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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
Breakups aren't fun. Ever hear the old "it's not you, it's me" line — in so many words? Maybe you've said it to someone in an honest attempt to not hurt their feelings or maybe you've been on the unfortunate receiving end of it. Either way, you can attest to the fact that it induces a cringe-worthy feeling.
While this isn't unheard of in intimate relationships, we're wondering: Are recruiters now doing that to job candidates they've interviewed?
"I've had what feels to me to be a unique experience during my job search this year," writes an anonymous FGB'er in the Fairygodboss Community. "Four separate times, after several interviews (one set that took two months to complete, five rounds total!), I've been informed that the team loved me, my portfolio is impressive and that I'd be a great fit for the team, but the timing isn't right and they would like to talk about joining the team in a few months (six, nine, two, in the near future, respectively). Is this boilerplate language now?"
They add that it's an "almost worst feeling" that they're a good fit and, yet, they're still receiving rejections. And they ask if anyone else is feeling the same way. Fortunately, FGB'ers don't seem to think that recruiters are doing to candidates what partners have long done when they awkwardly fall out of love. Here's what FGB'ers think recruiters really mean by the whole "you're great, but the timing isn't..." thing.

1. It really is just a weird time.

OK, so we're currently in the midst of a global pandemic. So, no kidding, it's fair to say that maybe, just maybe, a pass "for now" really can be chalked up to poor timing. Some companies may have started their candidate searches before things got worse for them, and now they may be unable to finish what they started.
"This is the Time of COVID," writes Deborah Frincke. "Unfortunately, it's not uncommon right at this particular time for organizations to be hopeful of the ability to hire and then find that local conditions have changed and they cannot bring someone on board. They may truly mean that their business picture will be better in the future."
Other FGB'ers agree that many companies could be scrambling right now.
"The climate has changed a bit with COVID in the mix," writes Angell Jones. "They may be trying to figure out what they are doing with the employees or want to see what changes. "
Jones recommends asking if there are industry or local fluctuations at play or if the bad time is specific to the organization. It doesn't hurt to try, and knowing could offer some peace of mind.

2. They really do hope to hire you in the future. 

Chances are that recruiters don't know if they're making empty promises when they suggest that some time in the future might be a better time. Sure, that might eventually be true, but it also might never happen. If it doesn't happen, the recruiter probably didn't tell you it could while knowing that it definitely wouldn't. They may really just be as hopeful as you are — no malice intended.
"I feel that it is a positive that they said in a few months," writes Jones. "If they were not interested, I don't believe they would offer that up. I had several interviews in the past that were promising but 'we decided not to fill the role' even after three or four interviews.  So the fact that they gave you that nugget gives some hope."
Other FGB'ers suggest hanging onto that hope and keeping in reaching out again down the line.
"Prospective employers are facing many hiring challenges during the pandemic," writes Sharla Taylor. "Keep in touch with the people you interviewed with through LinkedIn periodically to stay top-of-mind so that, when the company does lift hiring restrictions, you'll be the top candidate."
What do you think this response means, for real? How do you think people should respond? Leave your best advice in the comments!
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at by night.