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Employers: Show Common Courtesy to Applicants

Employers: Show Common Courtesy to Applicants

Looking for a job can be stressful. As job seekers triple check their resumes for typos and edit their cover letters, it seems like employers sit back and relax with all the power—especially in today’s job market.

Although companies do have the power to hire or not, they should still show candidates respect throughout the hiring process.

A recent Washington Post article, “Are you hiring? Show Courtesy to Applicants” listed what companies can do to ensure they are displaying professional courtesy with applicants.

Here are some highlights.

Acknowledge all applicants. I applied for many internships last summer and was shocked that about half of the companies never even responded to my inquiry. Not even an automated, generic “we received this” email. Yes, I understand that companies have more important things to do, but a little courtesy goes a long way. Companies should recognize an application, if only to let the applicant know it was received.

Inform applicants about the results of the process. In most cases, a ‘no’ is a lot better than playing the waiting game. I’ve heard countless stories of applicants going in for an interview and not hearing back afterwards. It’s not fair to make the applicant wait around if you have no intention of letting them know your decision.

Don’t abuse applicants time and talents. Unpaid internships are commonly used as a way for job seekers to get experience with a company. But companies need to be careful and not exploit these interns. Sometimes unpaid internships do turn into a job, but don’t lead applicants on. If you have no intention of hiring them make sure they know this before you offer them an unpaid position.

The job seeker/employer relationship is a complex one and in the end, communication is key. Employers need to be open and honest with applicants and show them the common courtesy and respect they deserve. Companies should know that how they treat applicants is how applicants will view their brand from then on.

Do you have a hiring horror story?



Article by Dana Schwartz

Dana Schwartz is a senior studying public relations and management at Syracuse University. She has previous internship experience with a small New York City public relations firm, as a communications intern for the Special Olympics in London, and in healthcare marketing. She is looking forward to starting a career in public relations upon her graduation in May.

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  1. I’m glad to have found this article. A lot of employers do not seem to care about applicants.

  2. I love the conversations you cause in corporate America. Brilliant leadership.

  3. There is an embedded importance mindset in companies. I don’t have time to reply. It’s not my job to reply. You don’t need a reply. We’re not hiring you so why reply. We’re too important to reply.

    Don’t waste your time with companies like these. The first time you hit send on a resume or application and don’t receive a response within 24 to 48 hours, move on with your life.

    If a company is not responding to you, examine how the customers are treated, product sales and last years revenue.

    Those numbers will tell you why you should be thankful that company did not reply. That company is either a take-over candidate, or, will be out of business in 3 to 5 years.

    The company that does respond whether or not you are a top candidate, that is a company that respects its customers, its products and you.

  4. This should be mandatory reading for all companies. I’ve heard so many stories of people sitting on pins and needles for months waiting for something to happen. Using ResumeBear can solve the initial part of the problem by allowing the job seeker to be alerted when his/her resume is looked at.

  5. It sure would be respectful to receive a response, acknowledgement. The problem is how do you do that for thousands of applicants? There needs to be an easy push of a button way for them to at the least say Thank You for applying.

  6. ‘Law Of Supply And Demand’

    Generally, if there is a low supply and a high demand, the price will be high. In contrast, the greater the supply and the lower the demand, the lower the price will be.

    interesting that the same rule applies to human nature on such a basic level …

  7. Let’s face it, it doesn’t seem to be the norm now to not respond to applications but has been like that for a long time already. And once they respond, they blackmail you by saying you are either too old and too expensive or they tell you that you are young, with no experience and that you shouldn’t ask for so much money because they have dozens of candidates more experienced than you…! Least but not least, you don’t get a response because many companies are harvesting resumes to build their database and be ready to offer many candidates once the economy picks up!

  8. Many years ago, when I was in my twenties, I was asked during a job application interview, if I took anti-pregnancy pills. I was shocked about the intimate and personal question!

  9. Good posts, interesting and diverse, yet a common thread: unprofessional management of the application/interview. Ironically, current domestic, and more importantly the world business structure, the degree of separation between companies is one, two max; point is chances are you are interviewing a consumer rather than a “candidate.” Additionally, considering the present unemployment numbers, hiring managers may presume a threat, pure speculation. Studying econ, I agree with many that as a whole companies should move to a more “horizontal” rather than “vertical” structure, which advocates the obvious. However, all theories aside, and noting the aforementioned let’s get back to simply respecting each other, “Thanks but no Thanks”, or better, “Hey when is a good time….Great article, Best of luck-

  10. How refreshing to read about common courtesy needed by the interviewer and not just how to comport yourself as the applicant.

  11. I’ve never had a bad time once I am at the interview. But the paper stage is ego-destroying….

  12. I’ve been looking for a job in my area and usually I don’t get treated well for putting in an application when that I hear someone putting in an application when that they are hiring and then I put one in and their “Accepting Applications”. Now I can understand wanting someone with more experience, but at LEAST they could treat each applicant fairly and give each one a chance.

  13. Great article! I’ve had a hiring manager hand me a long form application and leave for lunch as I arrived. I didn’t stick around for the interview, because I didn’t want to work for anyone who treated me with such disrespect. A job-seeker’s time is as valuable as a hiring manager’s time. Common courtesy & mutual respect should be standard for all of us.

  14. I have a good one… I applied for a sales job at a newspaper. I had an interview and heard back from them about 2 months later after that. I thought, great my 2nd interview for this job I almost have it in the bag.
    When appearing the Chief in charge informed me that “oh, actually, we didnt really want you back. You did not qualify for the job so that you are here is a mistake. So convince Mrs Soandso now that you ARE the right one and that you really want it”.
    That woman by the way had praised me on my 1st interview that I am THE BEST candidate so far and I will definitely hear from them. So after what he said she went quite red in the face and I really didnt give a damn anymore – after all I didnt want the job anymore and will certainly not work for them in the future!

  15. I hope I’ll expand my business soon, so I will need workers.Than I will apply this, for sure, because, I remember days when I was looking for a job.

  16. I have never had a problem with a potential employer not being courteous. I think I have had really good experiences and that is not the norm.

  17. I agree with the lack of feedback from the employer and when I hired people I would always reply thanking them and those that I brought in for interviews would get a call back and feedback. It is not enough to say that they are not the right fit with out explaining. Give them some encouragement they need it the most at this time in their life.

  18. I’ve had fairly great experiences with applying for jobs. I’ve often not had to apply at all because the job was through word of mouth, and received the job based on the endorsements I had received. I’ve heard many times however that others never even hear back from the jobs they have applied for…which, in my opinion is horrible!

  19. Something that I’ve noticed is that many companies are requiring overly lengthy applications. For many jobs it shouldn’t take over an hour to complete an application. That isn’t true for all jobs. That isn’t respecting the time of the applicants and also is likely more information than the company needs. Of course, a big part of what actually consumes time in the application process is the use of personality tests by companies even though those tests are easily manipulated and often have little validity to them.

  20. What is interesting, is you never know who you will meet on your way coming back down, so you should always be nice to everyone. You just might be knocking on someone’s door yourself.

  21. Lots of good stuff in the Article Bob . Seems to Me the Higher the Job The higher the Courtesy. Lots said about the Climate of a Company by the way they treat Recruits

  22. Can’t agree more with all the points. Thank you for bringing it up.

  23. I once had a potential employer patronisingly coach me on what should be in my CV. That is, for it to be “right”. My view – I consciously chose and crafted a CV over many years, to reflect the me that I believed would be a) authentic and b) appealing to the sort of employer or business partner that I would *want* it to appeal to. Ergo – if I’m not a novice at this, my CV hasn’t “failed”, it has successfully identified a mis-match between us. It’s all about equality of worth. No point ‘winning’ the wrong job.

    • Nick, eloquently stated! Why stand on your head trying to appeal to an employer you are going to wish you never worked for? Especially loved this bit, “Ergo – if I’m not a novice at this, my CV hasn’t “failed”, it has successfully identified a mis-match between us. It’s all about equality of worth. No point ‘winning’ the wrong job.” Perfect!

  24. It is mostly a discourteous world out there. Companies make you jump through hoops, filling out applications with the same information over and over again. Of course, each company does it different, so on average you have to spend an hour filling out each form for a different employer.

    One of most courteous companies I ran into while looking for a job only required that I put in the URL for my LinkedIn profile, plus an email address and my name. While I didn’t make it to a phone interview, they did notify me via email that I had not been selected. They valued my time, and acknowledged my application.

  25. Large corporations seem to be the worst at this. It is just a common courtesy to acknowledge an applicant. I wish I had some stand out skills that made it possible to pick and choose but I don’t so I’m in the realms of did I or didn’t I. Adverts that say only successful applicants will be notified make me shudder but I’d still contact the company, after all, I like to show how keen I am to be employed. It makes a difference and I would say it’s a necessity if the job entails sales!

  26. I agree – Some form of feedback would also be welcome. Just…SOMETHING! It helps me move on faster and would keep the cycle moving faster.

    I think it’s also important that companies see that their actions are part of their brand. It puts them farther down my list of places I’d like to work.

    They would expect professional communication from me. Why should I not expect the same. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

  27. It can be terribly daunting to get back to everyone, especially if you are a large corporation. Many times there are thousands of applicants for every job. Once someone has had a phone interview or a live one, there should be a mechanism in place that let’s the candidates know where they stand.

  28. It seems to be the norm now to not respond to applications. I was pleasantly surprised to actually hear back from two companies letting me know that I had not been selected for an interview. I haven’t exactly blanketed the world with my resume but the number of non-responses was considerably higher than 2….

  29. Totally agree with you. Respect and courtesy must go both ways, or it is not sustainable. Employers need to understand that it impacts their brand how they treat applicants. If talk about bad application practices make the round, a lot of valuable talent will not apply. That is a real loss for the business.

  30. No. They aren’t courteous for the most part. Big disappointment! Makes you not want to job depressing. =(

  31. Truly, that’s what I faced the past ten years! Often the employers were convinced by a manhunter. So the relations brought me in and never the usual job-hunting.
    Otherwise, if you have all the bells and whistles to get the attention to your portfolio you’ll be hired with a handkiss.
    But then to be honest, I’ll never want to be employed as a wage slave again.

  32. I am constantly looking for work (I have found that self-employed means everyone is your boss) and the trend is: More ruder, more better. Employers are getting lazier, spend less looking for hires, treat applicants badly, and complain publicly that they can’t find qualified candidates. The only hope I see is in start-ups, where some owners still worry about who they want to spend time with over the long haul.

  33. When I was job hunting fresh out of uni the most annoying thing in the world was not getting a response back – sometimes not even an acknowledgement I had applied. It takes time and effort to put a good application together, the least I would expect would be a thankyou for my efforts…

  34. When I have gone looking for a job I operate from the point of view that I am interviewing them. Would I really want to work here? If not pull the resume and say thank you for no thanks. I have met people job hunting who were having a bad day and I have been interviewed by people who did everything they could to push my buttons but in general you get the courtesy you give.

  35. Great article. Hiring has a huge impact on the brand, especially these days.

  36. This one mainly discuss experience of interns. However, it applies to all candidates.

  37. I agree with the problem of not getting an acknowledgment. It is very frustrating not to hear back. A “Thanks but no thanks” is better than silence. It’s really the least they can do when someone has taken the time to send in a resume/CV.

    • Tom Laing (@tomlaing)

      I agree, it used to be common courtesy but something changed 20 years ago, employers forgot they were dealing with people with feelings. Perhaps the digital age…

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