Rejecting Job Seekers Can Be a Double-Edged Sword

29 Mar

As one of the many college students actively seeking a summer internship, I often wonder how many others are applying for the same position. The number is likely in the hundreds, if not thousands. With corporations receiving large numbers of applications from students like myself, it is often very hard for them to communicate with every applicant. About twenty percent of companies notified me personally that they received my application, and all of these companies treated me cordially and with respect.

While I feel companies treated me well, many applicants feel a little ticked-off after completing the application process.  A recent article published in the Wall Street Journal argues that when companies treat applicants poorly, they are indeed hurting their business. The author, Lauren Weber, suggests that people who apply to companies are likely doing so because they like the company. This fact is especially true for retailers. Companies like Wal-Mart, Target, Gap, or Nordstrom have tens of thousands of people apply for positions every year. These applicants are likely already customers. If applicants are not treated well in the application process, they may feel that the company isn’t run well or that they are being considered, “Good enough to shop, but not good enough to work.”

So what can companies do to make applicants feel valued and keep potential customers happy?

1.    Personally get in touch with every applicant who is rejected. Whether by email, letter, or phone, companies need to make an effort to personally communicate with applicants.

2.    Make every applicant feel valued. Companies can make applicants feel valued by picking out one specific item off a person’s resume that stands out and mentioning it in the rejection email.

3.    Cap the number of applicants. Some companies such as Boeing set caps for applications. HR departments should realize that it is impossible to be personal when there are 5000 applicants for one job.

The application process is a part of business communication that many companies overlook as integral to their profitability and success. However, I believe Lauren Weber has a valid argument. I witnessed first-hand a friend who stopped shopping at a store because she felt that the company treated her poorly in the application process.  If companies and applicants follow the three rules above, there would be much less potential for hostility between company and applicant. Companies must step up their games, make applicants feel wanted, and realize that a ticked-off applicant could mean a former customer.

by DJD



2 Responses to “Rejecting Job Seekers Can Be a Double-Edged Sword”

  1. Leslie Wu March 31, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    I liked your post and I thought the article you chose to reflect on was very interesting. Companies must be beginning to realize that customer service has become public relations, and that public relations can mean much more than just making sure that the money-paying public is happy. Companies have to be careful in any interaction with an outside body, even with job applicants who, as you pointed out, may be shoppers themselves.

  2. seanfeng April 17, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    This post was a great read; I think this issue has come across many of our minds and might even affect all of us subconsciously. I actually recently had a bad experience when applying for summer internships. I will not go into the details, but I’ll share that recruiters made a lot of promises to the applicants that they did not keep, and really did not communicate in a timely manner, which makes me question the professionalism of the company. While personally getting in touch with every rejected application may be hard for large companies, your other two suggestions, “make every applicant feel valued” and “cap the number of applicants,” are both something every company should implement.

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