Specialist Recruitment and Consultancy
17th Mar 2014 | by: robsteed

One of the most common complaints I get about recruiters is that candidates don’t hear from them after applying for a job.  In most cases, this is because their application has been unsuccessful.  They’ve been rejected.

We expect (or at least I expect) that anyone applying for a role will take time to research the company, adapt their CV to suit the role, and spend time writing a good covering letter.  Yet most recruiters (internal and external) don’t include sending a rejection email in their recruitment process, but instead add a bland sentence to the end of their job adverts “due to the extremely high volume of applications, we can’t possibly respond to all of you individually so, if you haven’t heard from us within 5 days, your application has not been successful”.

In my experience, at least half of recruiters do not bother to let candidates know their application won’t be going any further.  Why?  I’ve heard various excuses, but the main one being something along the lines of “we get so many applications; it would take too long to go back to all of them”.

This simply isn’t true.  The time it takes to send a message to all rejected candidates is minimal.  Job boards and ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) all have built in bulk email options, and even if the recruiter is tracking applications on an Excel spreadsheet it adds almost no time to the process to add in an “email address” column and then send a bulk email.

Moreover, I’ve recently had 2 good examples of how adding some common courtesy to one’s recruitment process also has commercial benefit.

  1. A service delivery client I recruited for recently has just won some work with a new customer.  My client asked why they had been awarded this contract, and it turns out the office manager had previously applied for a job with my client and this was one of only 2 applications that she heard back from (the other being the company where she now works) out of “over 20 applications”.  She said “if you treat rejected applicants well, I assume you will treat your clients well too”.  The recruitment process should be an extension of your client services policy.
  2. I was recently asked to do a piece of recruitment for a new client.  The person who asked me to do the work was someone I had rejected for a role this time last year – now in a new job.  She told me that she’d been impressed by my approach, which included giving her additional feedback when she asked for it.  She would like her company’s applicants to be treated with the same level of decency with which she was.

So, I’d argue that as well as being the “nice” thing to do, it is also a commercially smart use of your time.

Someone who is a candidate now could be a client in the future.  Certainly they might be a candidate again, and next time they may be perfect for the role.  They may also be an advocate of your company now.  If they’re not right for the role, they may know someone who is.  But at the very least, they’ve taken the time to try and help you do your job.  I suggest that we recruiters return that courtesy.

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