July 21

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Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Why?

Great for those shortlisted candidates, but so frustrating for those who aren’t. Is it really so challenging for employers to respond?

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Surely, it’s how you manage the candidates you don’t want that sets you apart from the others?

I understand how much time is invested in managing the successful shortlisted candidates that you want to progress through to a job offer, but you can’t ignore the people who are ‘not right’ - no matter how time poor you are.

How the shortlisted candidates rule affects jobseekers

I picked up this comment recently in a publication and have heard it many times over the last six months.

“I have submitted more than 20 email applications in the past 3 months, all individually written and addressing the job criteria and with my CV attached, having the sections relevant to the job highlighted. Only ONE employer sent a thank you for your application response. What happened to good manners? This modern trend of only shortlisted candidates will be contacted is cruel and depressing for job seekers. It takes but seconds to send a thanks, but no thanks reply and at least tells job seekers that their efforts are not falling on deaf ears.”

I often hear from recruiters that it’s due to 'the systems' they have to use becuase they are inundated with applications. 

Come on, most, if not all systems have template facilities that allow for simple rejection letters to be sent. With a bit of creativity, you can make it personal also.

The flaws in the process 

I have been experimenting recently myself to see what communication is like. I have changed the name of this person to protect the guilty.

Here's a response I recieved which is fairly typical and highlights all the problems with this method of dealing with applicants.

Dear Mark

Thank you for applying for the HR Manager role.

Marissa Glover is carefully reviewing your application and will be in touch if you are shortlisted for this role.

We aim to give our candidates the best experience possible. This means we will only get in touch if you have been shortlisted for the role.

A few issues here.

The email isn’t from the person I sent it to.

She is carefully reviewing my application after 2 seconds of it arriving ( I doubt it).

They (Not Marissa) will contact me only if I am shortlisted. If I am not shortlisted, then I can assume that I am pretty hopeless really.

How long should I wait to be sure of my total inadequacy? Another 2 minutes, 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years?

Standard practice 

It’s not just recruiters who use these tactics. it’s employers also.

This whole ‘only shortlisted candidates will be contacted’ policy is terrible.

Everyone deserves, at the very least, an email to let them know that their application has been received, looked at, and that they are unsuccessful on this occasion.

Generic emails aren’t great but at least in these situations, the majority of the candidates will receive a message to acknowledge that their application has been considered but unfortunately on this occasion, there was a candidate with more appropriate skills.

Another day, another role, things could be different, and we truly hope that you will apply for roles with us in the future.

Surely a bit of respect and consideration doesn’t take too much time

Am I wrong?


Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.



Mark Daniel

About the Author

A global resume writer and career coach, Mark is known for his honest, direct, and hard-hitting advice, helping people manage job applications and succeed at interviews. Now based on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, he is the co-founder of Real Life Career Advice and the Hi Vis Hub. A prolific publisher, Mark contributes to several industry magazines and his daily career advice blog to his 45,000 LinkedIn followers.

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