Employers and Recruiters: Respect Those Applying Online for Your Jobs


Increasing competition for the best talent hasn’t improved the way firms and recruiters often mishandle job postings and initial interviews.

In recent weeks, I have talked with more than a dozen individuals – some who currently are working but seeking new opportunities, new college graduates and unemployed professionals. All refer to the frustration of the “black hole” of online job applications. Job seekers must play the required game of applying online, but they only get responses about 50% of the time. In this day and age, there is no excuse for failing to provide automatic responses to online applications. A simple form response alleviates the #1 concern: “Did they get my resume?”

One frustrated applicant told me, “I realize they get a lot of applicants, but it doesn’t seem that it should be too difficult to generate a short, automated message via the online HR management systems on which we spend quite a bit of time when applying.” And when the position has been filled, employers and recruiters should close the loop, which also can be done via an automated response that thanks everyone who applied. This rarely happens.

And the rudeness extends beyond online applications. One applicant who went through two rounds of in-person interviews learned she didn’t get the job when she read in PR Week that someone else was hired. No heads up call from the company or the recruiter. “When I was told that I was one of two finalists for the job, imagine my surprise and disappointment,” the jilted applicant said. “I called the recruiter but it’s been three days and I still haven’t heard back.”

Another senior PR pro said he can’t enumerate how many initial interviews he’s had with no follow up whatsoever. “One phone call and then never to be heard from again is the norm,” he said. “And I always follow up a minimum of two times by phone, email or both. It’s shocking to me how unprofessional and short-sighted this is. These have included situations in which I have been a specific referral from former colleagues–and presumably potential candidates for future openings. As you would expect, my feedback in such instances was unfavorable.” He suggests the following common courtesy rule for employers and recruiters:

“A quick, negative response is FAR more desirable — and reflects better on the hiring organization — than no follow-up at all.”

Keep in mind that blasé attitudes toward the critically important role of hiring talent eventually will hurt your brands in the minds of prospective employees, clients and customers.

5 thoughts on “Employers and Recruiters: Respect Those Applying Online for Your Jobs

  1. Terrific topic, Ron. Not a lot of discussion on the “black hole” of job applications, but I know it impacts — and frustrates — job seekers every day.

    Can’t believe no one has invented an app yet to address the problem.

  2. Oh so very true. Funny, but it seems like those recruiters seem to have forgotten what it was like to be on the other side of the table.

    When I was a hiring manager, I ALWAYS called or emailed people who I interviewed to tell them the outcome. They were always courteous and professional when receiving the news and most asked for tips/pointers as to how they could do better the next time.

    As one of my clients has developed an applicant tracking system for HR managers, I have had a crash course on the realities of the failures of current candidate sourcing
    systems. It’s not pretty, and you’re right that it eventually harms the brand of the organization.

    Today’s hires are more socially attuned to their workplace. They want to feel their organization stands for something noble and good – or at least decent, courteous and helpful. Impersonal practices don’t sit well with them for long.

  3. Even worse: Online job portals. Like Taelo. They’re awful. Sometimes they freeze and the application doesn’t even go through. Imagine losing an hour of work. Second, they are not customized in any way for the job. Entering in high school information is not uncommon.

    Online portals might be easier for the company, but they make applicants think twice about applying. I am sure talent has gone elsewhere as a result.

  4. Since writing this post, I’ve also heard from three individuals who actually landed jobs, but indicate they weren’t treated much better throughout the process. They claim to have been left in limbo for weeks at a time with no feedback and no returned phone calls. Then, they suddenly got frantic calls to come back for yet another round of interviews that eventually led to offers.

    One candidate who already was employed said the agency employees made her feel they were doing her a favor by extending the offer. She almost turned down the job because of this arrogant attitude. “Needless to say,” she said. “I’ll watch out for myself here.” Not the most enthusiastic way to begin a trusting relationship.

  5. I’m guilty! As an HR rep, often times I handle more than recruiting. The HR departments are usually understaffed because often is believed that if you have technology, you won’t need humans. Most often, the ATS (applicant tracking system) is setup to send out a message to confirm that the application was received. In the email there is a message that specifies that “due to the large number applications, we won’t be able to respond to all applicants.”

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