Saturday, June 9, 2012

Day 387: Rejection Etiquette

You can learn a lot about a company, its people and its philosophy by how they handle rejection notices.

Andrew Hudson is the Colorado-based creator of a well-done jobs list ( and writes on job-search issues. His most recent weekly report had a piece on what I'm now naming "rejection etiquette."

Anyone looking for a job the past several years gets the following response to a job inquiry:

1) An automated response thanking you for the application. Usually this has no further information, such as when the process will move to the next phase. About the best one can hope for is a statement saying in effect "If we like you, we'll be in touch."
2) If you were able to interact with a decision-maker, they may acknowledge receipt, and may provide a little more information about what happens next.
3) No response at all.
4) Snail- or e-mail notification of rejection. This sometimes happens months later. I recently got notification (in May) of a job I applied for in December.
5) Snail-mail notifying you of receipt and/or timing.

In the past year+, I've applied for literally hundreds of jobs. I've been logging them and tracking status. For just incrementally more than 24 percent, I've received official rejection notices. Here's how the rest of the categories break down in my experience:

1) Rejection notification: 24 percent.
2) No response: 66 percent.
2) Automated response, no details: 6 percent.
3) Personal response: 3 percent.
4) Snail-mail notification: 1 percent.

So almost one in four, you know your fate. Unfortunately in most cases, those are your best prospects because that usually means you passed initial hurdles to get closer to getting the job.

But the shocker is that for about two-third of the resumes you send out, you hear exactly nothing. Not that they got it. Not that they like you. Not that they DON'T like you. Just... nothing.

I've been a hirer before, and it never crossed my mind to not tell everyone who applied their status, especially after a decision was made. It's not just rude to not do so... it's unprofessional.

At the very least, a company should notify applicants of receipt of an application. Ideally they will say "we'll call you after X date if we're interested." That way, no call means no go and you move on.

Even better if they send a letter to applicants post-decision saying thanks, we've hired, maybe next time. How hard is that? Answer: Not that hard.

A job applicant usually has some kinship/affinity or at least a positive image of a company it seeks to work for. If that company or its representatives cannot be bothered to show some respect to people who regard it well, that's a surefire way to change someone's mind about that company.

Beware the companies that have no respect for the job-seeker.

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