Monday, September 28, 2009

Rejection Letters

I think almost everybody has gone through an interview process and received the dreaded rejection letter. More and more, however, it seems that people are going through an interview process and not hearing anything. Recruiters are very busy people. We always have many things to accomplish, and those of us on the agency side, are always encouraged to "work closest to the dollar."

Large companies generally have automated systems for generating rejection letters when a job is closed through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), however smaller companies and almost all agency recruiters have no such mechanism. To compound that, when a company is working through a recruiter, they typically assume that the recruiter will let the candidate know while the recruiter sometimes assumes that the candidate will be included in the blanket rejection letter.

I know that I personally have left people hanging longer than I would like to be left hanging myself. I generally tell candidates "If you don't hear from me by X, call me and I will tell you everything I know." But really, leaving it all up to the candidate is not responsible recruiting either as it relates to simple human courtesy, or as it relates to maintaining your candidate database. I think that recruiters in general would be wise to make sure they have or build an automated mechanism to ensure that every candidate whose resume gets sent to a client (at the very least) gets a final disposition.

This can be easy to do if you use good recruiting software, but difficult if you use something less sophisticated. Either way, candidates appreciate it because contrary to popular belief, having bad news is better in many cases than having no news.

For candidates, what do you do if you don't hear anything? When do you follow-up? Kathryn Lee Bazan says seven days from last contact for most professions. She encourages (as do I) asking about the hiring process in the interview so you have a better idea. If they say they are interviewing for two weeks, than wait two weeks to follow up. Following up will rarely make a difference in the hiring process (it won't make it any more or less likely that you get the job unless you are either unusually annoying or unusually persuasive), but it may speed up your access to the information. It's also good practice calling hiring managers and HR people which is something everybody needs to be able to do before the process begins.


At November 6, 2009 6:35 PM , Anonymous Joel Passen said...

Hey Aaron,
Good post. I've been looking into the topic of rejection letters for several weeks now. I actually prefer to call them "thank you" letters. Companies spend so much time, energy and money attracting candidates but typically do next to nothing once they get them.

The issue comes down to time and cost to reply to everyone. Yeah it sucks. Most even realize that the lack of communication is, for the most part, sending out the wrong message. And to think, you would never do this to a customer. Why then would you allow it to happen to applicants?

Anyways, keep an eye on
We are releasing a feature this month - interview stage specific thank you letters! Yup, hit a button and thank applicants for applying right from your recruiting software.


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