The Importance of Responding to Job Applicants.
It is a serious task often taken very lightly.
As someone who has applied to many jobs online, I understand how frustrating it is to get no response from the HR person you’ve sent your application to. I mean, how hard can it be to say No?
On multiple occasions, I’ve been left wondering what happened and subsequently felt rejected for no reason. I’ve felt angry at the person who received my application and didn’t even bother to tell me I didn’t make the cut. It is a helpless feeling that leads to self-doubt and makes one think, “I’m not good enough!” This is a dangerous space to be in and a lot of HR people don’t do anything about it. The other aggravating industry standard has become — If you don’t hear back from us assume you didn’t make it.
I’m not an HR professional and don’t have the qualifications to say they’re doing their job wrong — so I’ll stick to saying that they’re not dealing with people correctly.
I’ve been hiring for my current organisation for the last three years and it is during the pandemic and the ensuing mass unemployment that I realised how much a kind word can do for someone feeling down and out.
This is a true and very recent example.
Sometime in mid-November, we decided to hire an Executive Assistant for our Creative Director (the big boss). At 12 pm I put a post on LinkedIn and by 6 pm had to close the post. We received over 110 applications in 6 hours! We received applications from people who had 4x or 5x the experience we were looking for. We also received applications from people who were previously in a salary bracket 3x to 6x more than our offer. I was stumped!
My filtering started with people above my offered salary bracket. I wrote back to each one explaining that their experience superseded our requirement and that I wished them well in their job search. I was quite surprised when many wrote back to wish me luck in finding the right candidate and appreciated the fact that I responded with a clear status. It was their goodwill that ensured we found our candidate after the 1st day of interviews.
However, there is a flip side to this story. Since I made it a point to write back to each person, I discovered that a response it not enough. For the people who didn’t respond to my initial email, I wrote that since we’d found our candidate these people would not move on to the interview round. I thanked them for applying and said I’d reach out if an opportunity, to hire someone with their experience, arose again. Most people were gracious and responded positively. Except one.
This person was furious and decided that I was lying as it wasn’t possible to hire someone that quickly. They said I didn’t give them time to respond. I had no clue how to react. So, in an attempt to calm the person down, I over-explained. That’s when it got much worse. The person reached out to aforementioned big boss on LinkedIn and complained that I had no ethics and had misbehaved with them by not giving them a fair chance. I was extremely upset. My boss told me to let it go and said I shouldn’t have over-explained the status to this person. But, as you can probably tell, I’m still upset over this interaction.
It took me a while to conclude that this person must be so distraught that they reacted the way they did.
The job market was and continues to be in a slump. The pandemic has meant the loss of jobs for many experienced and well qualified people. Every startup that has launched in the pandemic is not a super hit. Many people are dealing with altered circumstances. For those who are in hiring positions it is even more important today to be mindful of what affects people. You never know what could trigger a complete meltdown. We’re responsible, in a way, for other people’s emotional and mental wellbeing, more than ever.
Mindfulness is my motto for 2021. What is yours going to be?