Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Is a 25% response rate to applications acceptable?

Imagine walking into a crowded room, introducing yourself and only a quarter of the people there bother to look up and say hello. It would instantly put you on edge; is there something on your face? Is your dress tucked into your tights? Have you in fact turned invisible?

Sending job applications in the digital world is, to use a lovely and vulgar phrase, much like pissing in the wind. You research the company and think “these look like the sort of humans I would enjoy working with”. You write a detailed letter full of shining examples of your brilliance, you apply, and you wait. And wait. And then – nothing. Radio silence. Have they even received it? Sometimes companies will grace you with the automated reply email, which is greatly appreciated. But more often than not, you will receive nothing back whatsoever, and I don’t think that’s okay.

Out of the 16 most recent jobs I have applied for, a mere four people bothered to respond with what I call the “Thanks, but get stuffed” email.
They often go a bit like this: ‘Unfortunately, your application has not been successful because we’d actually already decided who was being internally promoted, but we had to advertise the role externally anyway. Sorry about that.’

Or this: ‘Unfortunately, your application has not been successful because Geoff has retired, and no-one has ever been entirely sure what his job role was, but he did at least 54 different tasks and we basically just need him back. If you are Geoff, please apply below.’

Sometimes: ‘Unfortunately, your application has not been successful because you do not have the precise degree we require for this extremely general role.’

But most regularly: ‘Unfortunately, your application has not been successful because you don’t have the necessary experience, and we won’t help to provide that by offering you employment, you totally useless oxygen thief.’ You get the picture.

The flicker of hope soon fades each morning – somewhere between the fifth cup of tea and the second dramatic sigh. You’ll sit and refresh your inbox like a dog waiting for the postman. To only receive a response, not even feedback, from a mere 25% of recruitment teams and HR departments is not enough. I need to at least know they are listening. To paraphrase wildly, despondency is the thing without feathers, that sits on your head and eats your motivation. If you don’t know the status of an application, it breeds false hope.

Communication isn’t just one of my “skill set” or something in which I have “extensive experience” – the buzzwords don’t apply. I talk. I listen. I learn. Communication requires more than one person, so recruiters and potential employers: just send a response. Interact with your fellow humans, and you never know what might happen next.

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