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Ripple Effect of Not Responding to a Job Candidate

Ah, the job candidate “slush pile.” You know, the stack of resumes and cover letters that don’t quite make the cut?  If you’re like most hiring managers, you don’t always respond to or even acknowledge receipt of every application. In fact, a recent CareerBuilder study shows 56 percent of employers admit to giving the cold shoulder to applicants in this manner. The reasons for this are certainly understandable. Dr. John Sullivan cited in that the average corporate job opening garners 250 resume submissions, reducing hiring managers to less than seven seconds per resume on average for a quick review, much less a thoughtful response.

But what’s truly astonishing? About 33 percent of employers in the CareerBuilder study said they don’t even follow up with candidates with whom they interviewed to let them know they didn’t get the job.

If you’re guilty of this and other bad hiring habits, beware your actions could complicate your recruiting efforts and even damage your company’s overall reputation. Here’s how (according to the same study):


  • Job seekers who don’t hear back after applying for a job are less likely to continue buying products or services from that company.
  • Did a job seeker have a bad experience with you? Half will tell their friends about it.
  • An overwhelming 75 percent of job seekers use traditional networking such as word-of-mouth to gather more information about a company.
  • More than 60 percent will check out your company on social media to find out if what you’re telling them about your culture is true.
  • More than two-thirds of job seekers would accept a lower salary if the company had exceptionally positive reviews online.

This news comes as no surprise for Katie Smith, a recruiter at Austin-based SpareFoot. SpareFoot operates the country’s largest online marketplace for self-storage and has a reputation for being one of the best places to work in Austin.

“I find it extremely unfair when candidates are left in the dark, especially during the interview process. To be honest, this is bad recruiting,” Smith asserts. “It is understandable that the budget for a position may change and candidates will need to be pipelined; however, this should be communicated. A candidate may not wait indefinitely for the job you are offering them. Therefore, it’s good to feel them out and check in so you are not blindsided when the offer is rejected.”

Better responsiveness can be achieved by enlisting help when needed, particularly from the right recruiting partner.

“It’s the responsibility of the recruiter to communicate wins and losses to the candidates they’ve brought to the table,” says Jay Long, managing director of The HT Group Search Division. “That includes breaking bad news and offering constructive criticism to mitigate a negative ripple effect.”  Long advises caution in this area, however, since the result of a recruiter working on your behalf can go both ways. “Keep in mind the recruiter is acting as an extension of your company,” he adds. “Hire an unscrupulous recruiter who doesn’t treat candidates fairly and that will affect how other candidates perceive the hiring company.”

Back at SpareFoot, Smith agrees that communicating rejections can pay in surprising ways.

“We have many candidates reapply for positions, even after being rejected,” she explains. “Oftentimes, you will see that candidates have grown since you last talked to them. We have even hired people who were once rejected and reapplied. This is a sign that communication is critical during the recruiting process. It will not only help your candidate pool grow — since they know they are applying at a place that treats them like candidates and not numbers—but it also will help your business be able to hire the most outstanding candidates.”

Additionally, it’s important to stay on top of the rumor mill to spot any company negative feedback stemming from your candidate pool. Work with your organization’s communications team to monitor social and Internet sites like Glassdoor, Yelp, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to catch and, perhaps, craft an appropriate response. If you spot a trend with complaints, consider how your hiring process could be damaging your company’s reputation – and change it accordingly. Company culture is a strong pull for top talent these days and a habit as small as routinely ignoring resumes or forgetting to follow up could land your company’s culture in hot water.


Image credit: bowie15 / 123RF Stock Photo