Anyone that’s ever applied for a job has experienced the resume black hole. You apply for a job and don’t hear anything back (you might get an automated “thank you”). After a few days you send a follow up message (if you can find an email address) and wait some more. Nothing. No word whatsoever comes back.
It’s demoralizing and frustrating. And it’s insanely common. Too few companies take the time to respond to applicants in any way whatsoever.
The task of sending “thanks but no thanks” emails is time consuming and unpleasant. I always feel like the bad guy doing it, and struggle with what to say. I want to be honest and fair without making people feel shitty.
Some companies get so many resumes (hundreds / application) that it’s almost impossible to respond to all of them. I don’t see that changing in the future (even if it should.) They could setup automated email systems that are triggered as they’re changing applicants’ statuses in their back-end systems, so at least applicants get something relevant, and not totally generic, but most don’t put in the time or effort to do so.
For companies that get fewer applications, you should make the effort to respond to everyone. I tend to write very simple and short emails in these circumstances. Occasionally applicants will reply and disagree with my assessment, sometimes quite nastily. Don’t get into an email flame war with applicants – you can’t really win that battle. Either ignore the email, or reply with another very clear, “thanks, but no thanks” message. Some applicants will reply and genuinely ask for help, curious about what they should do to improve their career opportunities going forward. I have no problem responding to these kinds of emails with suggestions. Just because someone isn’t qualified today, doesn’t mean they won’t be qualified in the future. And it doesn’t mean they’re not qualified for other positions and can’t be successful elsewhere.
I don’t think brands / companies really get hurt by the resume black hole. Too many companies have them; if brands really did get seriously damaged by the resume black hole you’d see the impact. It’s just not there. The resume black hole – unfortunately – is the status quo. If a company goes beyond that in its poor recruitment and hiring practices, it can absolutely have a negative impact on their brand. The flip side is also true — eliminate the resume black hole and you’ll be rewarded for it in the public eye.
Black hole image courtesy of Shutterstock.