Candidates: why are you getting rejected?

Candidates are rightly seriously hacked off with the whole job search process. It’s impersonal and soul destroying with standards of behaviour often more like the lower reaches of estate agency than a real “profession”.

These comments apply to “in house” recruitment as well. In particular how did we get to a situation where it seems universally acceptable not to respond to candidates? (Prism always do so by the way).

Perhaps a couple of clues

This week I had an application for a £120,000 Supply Chain Consulting Director job from a gardener. He is probably a very good gardener but he does not meet any of the stated mandatory requirements.

A few weeks ago I received an application from a candidate and a week later he sent me a chase email: “It looks like such an awesome job and perfect for my skill set”.

He then received my reject email which he queried, very politely, asking “where am I going wrong?”

My answer was that he did not have two of the four “mandatory” requirements. A glaring error in the spelling of the name of one of his employers was a further negative.

So where am I going here?

Firstly this person was genuinely baffled as to why I had rejected him and the answer was staring him in the face. This is not unusual: over 75% of applicants do not meet all the requirements we state as “mandatory”. In the case of this particular job, key words like healthcare/digital and marketing seemed to generate response from candidates who had worked as healthcare professionals, web designers and marketing managers. Almost all applicants ignored the requirement for consultancy experience. The result was a frustrated recruiter and many disappointed applicants.

So before you apply for a job ask yourself, honestly, whether you meet the stated requirements. If it says something is “preferred” and you don’t have that skill then go right ahead and reply. But don’t if the advert states “essential”, “mandatory” or “must have”. Trust me: the employer/recruiter has thought long and hard before using those words/phrases and isn’t going to change their mind when presented with your CV.

Secondly: check your CV. And if you think you have done so then get someone else to check it too. Especially capitalised words which spellcheck doesn’t pick up

Finally, although I think that it is unacceptable not to reply to applicants, part of me wonders if candidates bring this on themselves. Because so many “chance their arm” or don’t read the advertisement recruiters and employers don’t have the time to respond to the hundreds of candidates who apply to some roles. Or worse: perhaps they believe that because the candidates have clearly wasted everyone’s time they don’t deserve a reply.

The overall result is that everyone loses.

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