Applying for a job can be a full-time hobby for many unemployed people and, as I’ve learned from recent personal experience, it’s often a soul-destroying one at that.

The internet has made it easier to advertise roles – vacancies get seen by far more people, along with job descriptions and other information. It’s also convenient for candidates, who can submit their CVs and supporting statements electronically.

A thankless task

I sometimes wonder, though, whether organisations and recruitment agencies realise how much time and effort people put into completing job applications, and how often their technology is not that helpful. A spell-check function on the personal statement section at the very least would be wonderful.

Recently, I’ve witnessed my wife being reduced to tears when sites have crashed or information has disappeared while making online applications.

So, given all the effort (and several hours worth of time), it would be nice to think the application is going to be treated with respect. The first warning comes with the acknowledgement email, if you get one, informing you that if you don’t hear back within a certain number of days, you should assume your application is not being taken forward.

Some closure, please

What can be far worse is what happens once you have spoken to the recruitment agency, which might even have approached you in the first place: ‘Oh, yes, can you just send us your CV and a supporting statement. We need to get it to the company by close of play tomorrow’ – all said in a tone of voice that suggests Christmas cards will be exchanged.

Hours later the application is crafted – a little bit more of you revealed to the wider world – and you press the submit button (which should actually read ‘yield to the will of another person or superior force’).

And then, many days later…..


Should you take that as a ‘no’ then?

Any response better than none

It seems wrong that, after being encouraged to make an application, you seldom get a notification to say: ‘Sorry, not this time’. Even the patronising ‘we received lots of applications and on this occasion yours was not successful in making the shortlist’ is an indication that the process has ended, and the grieving can begin. Failing to send any response at all is just downright rude – after all, how difficult is it to send an email?

I suggest a code of best practice for recruiters in their dealings with Joe Applicant, and mystery shopper-type applications to test them.

Here’s a few recommendations for starters (please feel free to add more):

  • In the information provided to applicants, indicate the expected timetable for the selection process.
  • Acknowledge all applications within 24 hours of receiving them.
  • Update applicants on the progress of the selection process at least every week, including any change to the timetable.
  • Confirm with all applicants when the process is over and the vacancy is no longer available.
  • Offer effective feedback to all applicants who have been interviewed for the vacancy.

Given the existing technology none of the above should be difficult. What do you think?

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Written by David Tetlow, HR consultant

Fifty something, well meaning leftie – politics and bowling. Sometime HR manager and cyclist. Want to help people of all ages develop sustainable careers.

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One Response to “Experienced job application rudeness? I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then…”

  1. Isabella says:

    You are giving a real picture of todays’ market: very impersonal and full of unprofessional people, HR teams included. This is of course not always the case, but I have witnessed situations that made me run so fast that Bolt in comparison would be slow!

    It is not only recruitment agencies’ fault though – far too often they are packed full with “consultants” that have zero knowledge of the market and that have just left uni.

    Also companies can be very inefficient and totally appalling when dealing with candidates. My favourites are:
    a company whose recruitment team had not turned up for an interview with a candidate without providing any update; when the candidate left as no one was able to provide an update, the recruitment team rang screaming at the individual stating that after all “they were just slightly late” – over 30 minutes! Or the other company that replied to a speculative CV stating that there were no position just to change their mind after a few days and calling in the candidate for an informal chat. The interview was a pantomime with very unprofessional and unfriendly individuals (the candidate had to find the way out herself as the interviewers could not be bothered). During the interview the individuals kept on repeating that the meeting was just an introduction and no role was available. What a surprise when the HR person sent the candidate the usual random template saying that the post did exist but there were other candidates that were more suitable. What a laugh thinking about the MD of this company stating that they pride themselves for honesty and professionalism … we are to a level of total nonsense and incompetence.

    The solution? Going solo and not having to put up with these people.