The Sting of Rejection

Steve Gifford Candidate Pool, Job Boards, Recruiting, Resumes, Steve Gifford

Being out of work is beyond disheartening.  I’ve been out of work for a prolonged amount of time twice in my career, and it was awful; it made me incredibly thankful for my wife, and made me question practically everything else.  Now, though, I’m employed, and I’m hiring!

Here’s the problem, though: I can’t hire everyone.  My recruiting team and I have fifteen jobs open as I write this.  In the last thirty days, we’ve gotten just over 500 resumes for these jobs.  These aren’t evenly distributed, either.  Yes, I’m averaging thirty applicants per job, but for a few of these, I’m *still* looking for candidates!

The painful truth here is that I’m going to have to reject most of these candidates.  238 people have applied to be my warehouse manager; I will hire one of them, and reject 237.  Heck, who knows, maybe something will come up, and I’ll have to reject all 238!  That’s a lot of negativity.

I’ve written before about how HR overuses minimum qualifications to arbitrarily reject candidates, and how it can be especially detrimental to veterans with non-traditional resumes.  These principles haven’t changed, but even the most enlightened recruiting team will still have to turn down a lot of candidates.  We can’t hire everyone.

Now, you may notice that I’ve got a good handle on the amount of traffic coming onto my careers site.  We use Newton Software for an ATS, which was profiled in FOT a few years back.  I can’t say enough good things about these guys; hiring managers thank me for this system almost weekly, and the credit is due to Joel’s team.  All this storytelling is to tell you this: Every single rejected candidate in Newton gets an email when they’re rejected.  No black hole, no wondering – there is a follow-through, at very least.

Because of this, I have a dummy “careers” account that originates these emails.  I check it every few weeks, just to make sure nothing critical went into the account.  And, I get responses.  Here are four of them, across the spectrum.

Thanks for considering me for the warehouse position. If you find that I may of value to your company please contact me. 

See, that’s actually very nice!  He didn’t have to do that, but these things get saved forever, so it can’t hurt.  The bulk of the emails I get are along these lines.

Thank you for the short time you spent on my resume’.

OK, that’s fair.  Steve Boese’s statistic about six seconds per resume is about right for how I go through them.  What’s more, I have Newton open on my desktop pretty much all the time.  If I don’t quite want to start something new, I’ll browse through resumes for a few minutes.  The newest applicants go to the top, so I occasionally reject someone who only applied a few minutes ago.  This particular emailer applied at 8:30 AM, and got my email at 3:30 PM, but can be forgiven for thinking that no one had actually looked at their resume.  In fact, I did look at it, and looked at it again for this piece.  I was right the first time, they didn’t have the credentials I needed for that job; but I get where they’re coming from.

Ha, losers. Very well then.

I felt pretty validated in my decision to reject this person for a sales job.  The hiring manager was amused, too.

That’s was a bad move on your part. I am a Jedi knight in marketing. Good luck to you. 🙂

I have done nothing to format or edit this email.  Sadly, I just don’t have the budget for a Jedi knight.

Job seekers: Please don’t take rejection personally.  I’m going to have to reject most of you.  The rejection may not even be related to you; if you applied two days before we made an offer, it’s entirely possible that you were not seriously considered.  Timing plays a big role here.  And, even if you were perfect, and the first applicant we looked at, you don’t know how perfect the other applicants were!  Don’t burn your bridges — like some of these applicants — and expect to apply a lot before the odds catch up with you.