Why You Need to Respond to All Job Applicants
How many applications do you expect to receive for the Augusta job opening you posted to a local job board?Number of applications will depend on several things, including, but not limited to, your industry; the position; your company's employer brand; and the quality of your ad.The good news is you will likely receive applications from at least several qualified candidates.A majority of employed individuals, 51 percent, is now actively seeking or open to new opportunities, according to one study. It's a big shift from only a few years ago when, during the recession, employed individuals clung to their current jobs, happy for a paycheck.Job seeker confidence has been a byproduct of a stable, growing economy. Curiosity has also fueled the search. Even many employees who are relatively satisfied with their current job want to know what other opportunities might be available.Reviewing applicationsAmong so many applicants, how do you find your ideal candidate? Sifting through a pile of job applications, electronic or otherwise, requires attention to detail.Fortunately, these days, employers frequently rely on an applicant tracking system (ATS), or an integrated talent management system that includes ATS features, to filter out candidates who don't meet the necessary qualifications. Needless to say, you'll want to make sure your keywords are correct so you don't miss out on quality candidates.When taking advantage of all your system's bells and whistles, be sure to use the feature that generates a response to a job applicant.Communication mattersYes, you should respond to all job applicants, including those you don't interview.Best practices include acknowledging receipt of the application and an update on the next step. What if there is no next step? "Thank you for your interest, but..."When your application process is automated, this is easy to do.What happens if you are a small company that doesn't have this kind of system?Get back to all job applicants anyway. There are email templates you can use for applicants who don't pass the initial screening, as well as email templates for applicants who interview but don't get the job.Isn't it easier to simply say something like this in a job ad: "We will only contact applicants who meet our qualifications"? This way, you've covered your bases, right?It's better than nothing, but it's not a best practice. To a job seeker, the statement comes across as rather condescending — and the statement does nothing to further your employer brand.Remember, every positive experience a job seeker has when interacting with your company furthers your employer brand, while every negative experience detracts from it.Why is employer brand so important? A strong employer brand helps you attract strong candidates. In addition, it impacts your company's overall reputation. After all, those Augusta job applicants are also customers or would-be customers. And, thanks to social media, word spreads very quickly about their experiences.Bottom line: Don't risk ruining your rep by not getting back to job applicants. It's common courtesy, and courtesy really does count.Paula Santonocito, a business journalist specializing in employment issues, has covered online recruitment since the early days of Web-based employment advertising and candidate sourcing.