Why you should never say “only short-listed candidates will be contacted”



I hate reading this line at the bottom of job adverts. On the other hand at least they are being honest and setting the expectations for people considering applying. There are plenty of job adverts that don’t say this and don’t bother to contact candidates who have not been short-listed.

This line in an advert would instantly deter me from applying for the job. It screams to me laziness and a complete disrespect for the job seeker. I can only guess as to why someone would use this statement in their job advert. They are too “busy” to invest the time in responding to applicants to let them know their application has been received and/or that they have been unsuccessful once the job has been filled.

This kind of approach just doesn’t seem quite fair. If you are the one doing the recruiting you are asking a job seeker to invest time in preparing an application for your vacancy, to write a covering letter and to tailor their resume specific to the job you are advertising for. They’ll need to invest an hour or two, maybe more to do this properly. Yet, you can’t spare a minute or two, to show them the courtesy of sending an acknowledgement email and then an unsuccessful email. The interested candidate, after investing a decent amount of time in preparing an application, is left hanging. Wondering if their application was received and then wondering for weeks if the position has been filled or if they still might expect to hear from you.

If you’ve been taking this impersonal approach to your recruitment, it’s time to change your ways. Here’s why you should consider taking the time out of your busy schedule to acknowledge and update job applicants.

The number one complaint from job seekers is lack of communication, specifically the lack of acknowledgement of their application and an update when they have been unsuccessful. My question for you is would you treat your customers this way? If you kept getting feedback from your customers that they didn’t like or weren’t happy with your product or service what would you do? You’d change your ways so you didn’t go out of business.

Communicating with candidates applying for your vacancy deserves the same approach. What perception do you want to leave them with about your business? Do you want them telling their friends and family that they had a poor experience with your business when they applied for a job? Trust me they will! Do you want to deter them from being a customer? While they might be applying for a job with you now, tomorrow or next week they might be a customer wanting to buy from you but probably not if they have had a negative unprofessional experience with your business.

On the flip side, how you handle the recruitment process sets the expectations with candidates on how you do business. Even the short-listed candidates who do get some communication from you will have already started to build a perception of your values and your approach to customer service. You’re basically telling them you don’t care about the people that you can’t do business with right now. Once they are successful and win the job, is that how you want them to treat your customers?

Taking this approach to your recruitment is taking a short-sighted view to sourcing talent. If you are not already struggling to attract and retain top talent then it won’t be long before you are facing the challenge. Chances are if a candidate has a poor unprofessional experience with you now they are highly unlikely to apply for a position with you again in the future and if they have told 10 of their friends, chances are they won’t apply for a job with you either. Can you really afford to be deterring potential future hires? While they may not look right on paper now; maybe they lack experience or haven’t finished their qualification, it may be a completely different situation in another 3 or 10 years time. With the average person changing jobs between 10 and 15 times in their career, what impact will that have on your recruitment activities? Can you really afford to burn candidates?

Is it time for you to take a different approach to how you communicate with candidates when recruiting?



Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.



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