Ground Rules for Applicant Follow Up
By Debbie Hatke
What are the ground rules for following up with job applicants after they’ve applied (even ones that aren’t even minimally qualified)?
This is definitely a challenge in today’s job market when applying to a job is a click away. If the candidate was interviewed but not selected, it is extremely important that you send them a letter notifying them of your decision. Doing this is beneficial to both you and the candidate. Notifying someone that they did not get the job is respectful; it allows them to “move on” and continue their job search. This can help establish you as an employer of choice–a company that treats both their employees and prospective employees with respect. You should also keep in mind that current interviewees may be future customers of your business or know someone who already is. Sending a candidate a letter can be good for your reputation as a business as well as an employer.
If you are worried that you simply don’t have the time to write and send a candidate letter, consider that doing so will actually help you organize your recruitment process, which will save you time in the long run. By telling interviewees that you will follow up with them and then doing so in a timely manner, you’ll have fewer calls and emails to respond to. Also, once you get a basic letter written, it will take very little time to personalize before sending it out to each candidate.
Some important things to consider when writing the letter are:
- Address the candidate by name, and try to personalize the letter as much possible.
- Always thank them for their time, effort, and interest. It’s nice to include a heart-felt compliment such as, “Your qualifications were impressive.”
- State the reason why they did not get the position. Generally, the reason given is that the position has been filled by a candidate whose credentials were better suited to the position. There is also nothing wrong with simply stating that the position has been filled.
- Describe the company procedure, if there is one, regarding keeping resumes on file. You may also offer the applicant the opportunity to apply for future positions. Of course, only do so if you are sincere.
- Wish the applicant well in their future job search.
- If you are sending the letter by regular post, always include your signature.
It’s important to keep the letter brief, and remember to be honest, kind, and tactful. Finally, be sure to send the letters out quickly after making your decision, but not so quickly that the candidate feels like you didn’t give them fair consideration (Two to three days post-interview is a good rule of thumb).
A well-thought out hiring process helps you better target candidates, and how you treat current candidates definitely has a positive impact the response you get with future searches.
Debbie Hatke is the Talent Strategy Manager at Strategic HR, Inc., a national full service HR consulting firm based in Cincinnati, OH. If you have questions or comments about this article, you can contact her at Debbie@StrategicHRinc.com.