Only Shortlisted Candidates Will Be Contacted…

An increasing trend I’ve noticed is the appearance of ‘Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted…’ and its variants within job postings. And it’s a trend which I worry about. My initial reaction as a candidate when I see this is to question why the employer has failed to discover mail merge, multimillion-dollar companies that don’t know how to export from their eRecruit solutions into Excel, then mail merge into Outlook for a brief form email to unsuccessful candidates. The alternative of course is that they do know how to use mail merge, but choose not to. This is the part I worry about, because fundamentally the role of HR is to support and grow the business, and this attitude of don’t call us we’ll call you is the complete opposite of supporting the business. My skill set requires that I work for larger companies, I’ll never work at a 200 strong organisation because they don’t need me, so the companies I apply for include the likes of utility companies, telecommunication companies, banks, education providers, etc. These are companies in sectors that have services that I purchase pretty regularly (telecommunications, utilities, banking, etc.). The first interaction I have with many of these companies is as an applicant, and for some, it will be the last. And certainly, in some instances I choose not to apply, in other cases where the job looks fantastic, I make an exception, and hope that this slack attitude is not a reflection on the wider organisation. I enjoy working in HR, and I believe in what we do, but not if this is where as a discipline is where we are heading.

Contacting unsuccessful applicants in my view is simply the standard, people have taken the time to put a cover letter and CV together, how easy is it to mail merge an email telling them they’ve been unsuccessful. But rather than seeing unsuccessful applicants as simply time wasters that are endured on the way to finding that one great applicant, how about HR start viewing them as potential customers. I would love to see companies that not only email me when I’m unsuccessful (as much as any wants to receive that email) but actually take the initiative and provide an introductory offer. Picture receiving an email along the lines of:

Dear Brendan,

We appreciate your interest in the advertised role of XYZ, we had a number of very strong candidates, and unfortunately on this occasion, we were unable to progress your application. We sincerely hope you’ll consider applying for future roles.

Now let’s talk about you as a potential customer, because we appreciate the time you’ve invested in us, this is an offer we only provide to applicants. If you sign up with us for XYZ within the next 30 days, we’ll provide 20% off your first month’s bill. All the very best

XYZ Recruitment Team

How fantastic would that be, an HR team actually supporting the sales effort through leveraging the contact that an applicant made? Instead, we have HR Departments that can’t even be bothered to mail merge a generic ‘Thanks for your application’. And people wonder why HR isn’t at the table.

So those are my thoughts on this trend, hopefully, at some point someone will ask the question ‘Is this really how we want to present our company?’, and hold those of us in HR to account. Because this brand of HR, it’s not what I signed up for – actually I’m pretty sure none of us in HR who strive to support our employers want this to become the norm.

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