One of the biggest issues and gripes in recruitment is the lack of feedback when candidates apply for jobs. How many of you have applied and never received any feedback? As an employer, have you considered that this could be very damaging for your brand? There is plenty of evidence that candidates' experiences are getting worse. None of us are perfect in this regard and recruiters/employers are fully aware of the problems caused by a high volume of applications.

We should say that for the purpose of this article we are referring to actual applications where employers are inviting applicants to apply (either directly or through recruitment agents). We are not referring to speculative applications where candidates send their CV’s on the off chance that there is a position with a desired company. We are also referring to the application stage (not the interview stage).

Should candidates expect a response?

In short the answer is yes, candidates should expect a response where employers are inviting applications. There is a grey area however where candidates apply for positions and they are totally unsuitable. The candidate either hasn’t read the job spec or knows it’s really a speculative approach. In these cases we still believe that feedback should be provided and we will address how you can do this later in the article.

Why are candidates generally not getting feedback?

Simply, it is the volume of applications that employers now receive. This situation has been magnified hugely over recent years with recruitment on social media, job boards and the digital world. Posted job vacancies are far more accessible as are target employers. It is paradoxical that employers allocate huge budget resources to automated recruitment without realising the extra costs involved and potential damage to their brand. Is the cost really worth it?

Damage to your company reputation by not providing feedback

In a world dominated by social media there is an easy platform to openly criticise employers. In addition and potentially even more damaging, is that candidates talk and share their experiences. Candidates sharing bad hiring experiences will put off potential recruits in the future, we now live in a global village. It’s also damaging to the company brand. If candidates have taken time to send their CV’s to you, but you don't have time to feedback, even if a simple 'no', this can leave a bad taste in the applicant's mouth. Candidates may even stop using your brand as a result. Clients who do feedback to candidates (even if it’s a no) project a very positive image of their company. In our experience, candidates are grateful for even the most basic of feedback, good or bad. Candidates who have good experiences (even if not recruited) will equally share the positive news. When you are recruiting, your company is in the shop window, so do it right.

So what can you do as an employer?

Employers should assess the methods they are using to source candidates. Is it worth having your positions advertised and in the public domain? Employers should assess automated recruitment systems and their social media/advertising strategies, particularly for highly skilled positions, to prevent volumes of unsuitable applications. Here are some tips to help you reduce the volume of applications:

  • Write detailed job specs, highlighting the specific skills and experience that are required for your role. Generic jobs specs encourage large volume applications. Highly skilled applicants will not take the risk of applying if they are unsure what the employer is looking for.
  • State on your adverts and websites that candidates not closely matching the job spec will not receive a reply. Make it clear on your website that you do not accept speculative applications.
  • If you advertise, make sure advertisements are professional, highlighting the skills required. Bad advertising also encourages volume.
  • Keep training your HR staff on the assessment of CV’s; if your staff doesn't understand what they are looking for then your application process is doomed.

What can you do as a candidate?

Firstly, make sure your CV and LinkedIn profiles reflect your recent experience (clients will often look at your LinkedIn profile, if your CV is of interest, so get that right too). Secondly, be diligent with your applications and only apply for jobs that match your experience. We would advise all candidates that, if they do send their CV’s for an advertised role, they follow up with a call to the employer. That way your application will not go unnoticed. If you don’t receive any feedback, don’t be afraid to chase. Give the employer a reasonable amount of time… but chase after 14 days. 

Conclusion

Lack of candidate feedback is not really acceptable but understandable given the volume of applications companies receive. Employers who invite candidates to apply should provide feedback. Assess your recruitment strategy. Strategically targeting candidates for your specific roles is far more effective in our opinion. It will cut your costs, reduce your admin and protect your brand …. you will find more suitable candidates as well! Simply put, all applications warrant feedback even if it’s just a simple rejection.