sunWhat’s worse: being rejected from a job and receiving honest feedback regarding why you were not selected, or getting no response at all from an employer?

As a career coach, I find that most of my clients feel no reply is worse than an honest, if negative, reply. While I understand it is hard for companies to respond to every application, I think failing to respond at all is unethical. It makes people feel worthless.

I’ve worked in HR. I can relate to both sides of the coin. However, I don’t believe that treating candidates like items on a list – just another resume to screen – is right.

Receiving an honest “no” accompanied by thoughtful feedback doesn’t frustrate people – it helps them grow. Not receiving a response, on the other hand, is frustrating and discouraging – as is receiving a response that is clearly just a copy-paste job.

Why not take the time to give feedback to people? Why not redirect them to another unit that might need their skill set? Why not direct them to a consultancy that revises resumes if their resume was not clearly written?

HR might argue that they have better things to do. I understand – but what’s better than building a pool of talented people and keeping them warm for future job opportunities? Most companies don’t take the time to catalog the talented candidates who approach them. Whenever the hiring process doesn’t work as planned, these companies are forced to reopen the job and go through the whole process all over again – instead of just dipping into their readymade pipelines.

Recruiting’s Biggest Secrets

If you’re one of those talented candidates on whom an employer decided to pass without saying a word, I want to take a moment to share with you a few secrets about recruiting. This knowledge will, hopefully, help you stay positive and motivated as you seek employment with a company that actually cares:

1. Some Jobs Aren’t Really Open

Some companies will post jobs that are already destined to go to a specific internal candidate. As an external candidate, you’ll have virtually no chance of getting the job – but the company will let you run through the selection process just for appearances’ sake.

2. The Interview Isn’t Always Meaningful

Related to No. 1 above, some interviews are just for show. The hiring manager has already picked a favorite candidate, but because other interviews were already scheduled before the decision was made, the hiring manager is simply fulfilling their obligation.

You’ll know an interview isn’t serious when it’s abnormally short and the interviewer seems entirely uninterested in you.

3. Jobs Get Cancelled 

Some jobs are simply cancelled for unrelated, usually financial reasons. In such situations, you’re likely to hear nothing from the employer about the cancellation.

When I worked as a recruiter, I once faced a situation where I found a great candidate for a job that was cancelled the very next day. It was not easy to explain to the candidate or digest for myself.

4. Companies Can Be Unrealistic

Some companies post jobs that are unrealistic in their demands. For example, I currently live in Switzerland, and I often see job posts for executive assistants calling for solid Excel skills, the ability to speak four languages, and five years of relevant experience – all in return for the salary of a shop assistant. There will be no good fit for a job like that – and a lot of frustrated people on both sides of the table.

Maintaining a positive attitude during a job search is a lot easier when you are employed and not desperate. I remind my clients that they are not job seekers, they are shoppers! It’s an exchange: You’re trading your unique skills for money. Enter the recruitment process knowing exactly what you are worth, and don’t take it personally if you get a negative response – or no response at all.

Rebeca Gelencser is an international job coach and job search strategist.

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