There is only one solution for the applicant communication black hole...and it involves two hands

One topic that seems to be a hot button for many is the lack of communication between applicants and employers.  Specifically, the communication (or lack there of) after an applicant submits a resume to an employer. 


When applicants submit resumes one of three basic things happen: 1) nothing, 2) an automated receipt, 3)  a call.


I won't give an automated receipt the time of simply tells the applicant nothing other than their email works.  Of course getting a call negates the premise of a black hole, so no need to discuss this either.  What's left, let's discuss "nothing".  (I feel like this is a Seinfeld pitch!)


Nothing happens for one of three main reasons: 1) the employer has identified an internal hire and is advertising the job to comply with policy, 2) the recruiter is inept, 3) the applicant is unqualified.


For the purposes of this discussion, 1) and 2) are self-explanatory and not largely responsible for the black hole...although one could argue 2)...but perhaps another time.  I'd like to focus on 3) and the more likely culprit, the candidate is unqualified.


 In the old days before the internet but after the invention of the fax, to find a job (outside of receiving a recruiter call or referral) one would read the Sunday papers, identify positions that reasonably met their qualifications, fill out a fax cover sheet, go to Kinko's and spend about 3 bucks per submission.  I assure you for all this work and money one would have reasonable expectations that they qualify for the job they are applying.  They have skin in the game.


The Internet changed everything.  With a click, for free, applicants could apply to as many positions as they like regardless of qualifications.  Although I would like to think they would only apply to one's they are qualified for, this is not always the case.  Often times a candidate will apply for a position they know they are not qualified for as a means to get their resume in the door in the hopes the recruiter has the time to discard them for said position but identify them for something else they or other recruiters are working on.


In the end, it's the responsibility of the recruiter to ensure a good job description and the applicant to read it and apply only if qualified.  If you don't get a call, take it as you're not right for the position.  You could be qualified from a skill level but are too expensive or have to much/little experience with that skill.  I can go on and on about the reasons why you may not get a call back. 


Recruiters are in the business of making a living and time is not on their side.  If they spent the time to contact the thousands of applicants that are unqualified they would not be able to make that living.  Again, if you don't get a call, it's not personal, it's time, money and service for their client.  Perhaps a hug is in order? 




Views: 287

Comment by Julie on March 21, 2011 at 12:00pm
I love your writing style!  I agree with the premise, but in the end my preference is that even the unqualifieds get an automated email that says basically "Thanks but no thanks, best of luck in your job search".   :) 
Comment by Martin H.Snyder on March 21, 2011 at 12:31pm

actually there is a spectrum of auto-responses.   If you get one a few days later (assuming your materials were reviewed and you were found to be NQ) that was semi-personalized, it would be better than a black hole and about zero work for a recruiter.   good systems enable that action- and sometimes an  NQ is still someone you may want to keep in a talent pool for other roles or who may be good a few years down the road-something else good systems help empower.       


Comment by Ken Forrester on March 21, 2011 at 1:52pm

I was looking for the "black hole" solution, but I may have missed it.   But I do agree that it has become so easy to apply for a job; everyone is doing it-the same way that doesn't work.  Given this information, the real question is-why do employers/recruiters continue to post jobs in hopes of the right person will fall into their laps?  

Until we can accept the fact that most applicants do not know how to effectively market their own skills and the ones that are in demand are not looking for a job; then the black hole will remain-in need of a solution.

Comment by Christopher Poreda on March 21, 2011 at 2:33pm

Sorry guys...on a re-read the solution is not so apparent.  There is no solution...except for a hug! 


Applicants need to understand as sympathetic as we are and as much as we care and want to help, we can't help everyone and this is a business.  If you're getting a call back, you meet all the criteria...if not, you don't.  Nothing personal.  Sorry but we can't take the time to discuss with those who aren't why.  I tried that early in my career and found I spent an awful amount of time on the phone giving free advise and, on many occasions acting as an unpaid therapist.




Auto responses:  interesting commentary.  I've always felt, regardless of when sent, that it was just a computer sending.  Also, I don't know how I would feel as an applicant receiving a denied response.  My first reaction is I'm negative towards the company...although I know that's unfair. 

Comment by Ilona Jerabek on March 21, 2011 at 5:36pm

@ Ken

employers keep posting jobs because occasionally, you do find a diamond in the rough. Variable reinforcement makes for habits that are hard to break.

Comment by Christopher Poreda on March 21, 2011 at 6:10pm

To your point llona, job boards are the #2 source of job fills last year, over 25%...and the #1 way applicants find jobs! 


I've been a job seeker, employer, recruiter and now a job board owner.  Everyone should use every tool available to varying degrees.  The one with the biggest tool box usually wins!

Comment by Julie on March 21, 2011 at 7:04pm

I work for a very large government agency and I would much rather get the occasional whine from someone that was notified (and bitter) that they were not selected to move forward than the tremendous number of calls from people who applied (for jobs they usually weren't qualified for, lol) and "never heard a thing". 


Just to be clear, our system does a lot of the work for us  -and then we give it a bit more info and it does a whole lot more of our work.  We only make direct personal contact with our top candidates and after that level of communication has been established then of course, regrets are done on the phone.


We get tens of thousands of applicants and we try to keep the phone calls to a minimum and keep our applicants as "in the loop" as we can.    :)

Comment by Purplelover on March 22, 2011 at 1:58pm
I'm sorry I do not have time to call candidates that have applied for a position that they are not qualified for.  We get thousands of resumes and if I spent every second to call a candidate back, I would not have time to contact the candidates that actually qualifiy.  I only send rejection letters out to those I have actually picked up the phone and contacted.


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