The Cruelty of the Job Search: An Open Letter to Hiring Managers, Employers, Recruiters and Human Resource Professionals

Dear Hiring Managers, Employers and Human Resource Professionals:

When hiring for a position in your organization do you let ALL of your unsuccessful interview candidates know that you have not selected them for the position?

If so, thank you for this uncommon courtesy. As you know, the job process is difficult enough on it’s own. You may wish to share this open letter to your peers.

If not, it’s time to take a long-hard look at the damage you may be doing not only to a potential future candidate but also to your own organization.

We need to bring the humanity back to the job search and everyone can play a role with very little effort. Let me explain.


Our Current State

We are in a difficult place in our Canadian workplace situation. There are an abundance of candidates and fewer jobs. For every job posted you might receive hundreds of resumes within only a few short hours. So we tend to rely on automated, generic responses to be sent to the candidates or worse, the candidate receives nothing at all. Candidates may have applied for tens, if not hundreds, of jobs and may only hear back from a small percentage of recruiters with a “we have received your application, don’t call us, we’ll call you message”.

In your defence, it would be nearly impossible to reply to every single applicant and still run an effective recruiting operation. It’s a tough situation for everyone involved but there are simple things that can be done, which I discuss below, to bring some of the humanity back to the job search equation.

Furthermore, once a small handful of candidates are selected for an interview, I cannot tell you how many of my clients tell me they hear nothing back after the interview. This floors me!

Imagine this for a second, you apply for a job, get filtered through the process, likely do a phone interview, then get a face to face interview, and then you hear nothing back. Nothing at all! This is a terrible business practice that may be damaging your business, but this is easily remedied.


The Problem You May Be Creating For Your Organization

Yes, it can be difficult to manage all of these applications and the candidates also play an important role in not begrudging the potential employer too. As a career, leadership and business coach and facilitator I have met with hundreds of clients who have conducted interviews and told me the same old story. They have heard nothing back. I remind them, “Organizations receive plenty of applications and that they could not possibly personally reply to every single candidate in every single case. In fact, they don’t even look at every application. It wouldn’t be reasonable to do so and still run a business. It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Don’t take it personally, pick up, move on and get your sites set on moving forward.”  However, by not communicating effectively with potential candidates you may be doing the following:

  • Discouraging these candidates from respecting your organization, even if they apply for and get a job with you in the future
  • Creating your organization that accountability and communication are not important because of course many of the candidates applying will be acquainted with members of your existing employees
  • Disrupting your reputation, as candidates are sharing stories with everyone they know (e.g. “Did you know I had an interview with XYZ Company and they never even told me a didn’t get the job. It’s been three months.”)
  • Sending the message to the community that “we just don’t care”
  • Additional phone calls from candidates wondering what happened
  • Killing the spirit of potential candidates so by the time you hire the right one in your organization you may be getting someone who is already discouraged by the application process from having applied to many other positions and hearing nothing what-so-ever


A Very Simple Solution

It can seem daunting when you see the number of applications coming in but with a few simple changes we can bring the humanity back into the recruiting process.  There are three simple solutions that could make all of the difference to a candidate and your reputation:

  • Ensure they know you have received their application. Most recruiting systems do this for you; however, if you are a smaller organization this can be done very simply by having a separate email set up for the recruiting process something like This can then be set up with an automatic email response to let candidates know you have received their application. Here is what I might suggest:

Thank you. We have received your application and will contact you should we decide to proceed with an interview. If you have not heard from us by December 20th, 2018 please know that you have not been selected for the interview at this time. 

This is such a simple thing to do and adding the date gives them the information they need to keep them from calling or thinking poorly of you.

  • Have an optional, kindly-worded email that can be sent when a candidate is not selected for an interview. I suggest optional for this because if your system isn’t automated it will make it more difficult. As well, this may not be necessary if you have provided a date for when they can expect to hear from you above. As a matter of practice for my own organization, we copy and paste this as a reply to every single candidate. I might suggest the below text as a starting place

Thank you for your application. You have not been selected for an interview at this time. You are welcome to apply to other positions on our organizations website, as they arise, that may be a fit for your skillset. 

  • Finally, and most importantly. If you do nothing else, please at least do this at a minimum! If you have provided a phone or face-to-face interview for a candidate please do let them know, preferably by phone, if they were not successful. It astounds me how many recruiters and hiring managers provide an interview and then do not even tell the candidate they weren’t successful. This may make you look unprofessional and discourteous to the unsuccessful candidate.


You will see these are simple asks that add a little bit of humanity back into our world. I know the challenge is that we are all so busy and the demands are ever-increasing for our time at work. However, these things are very simple to do, simple to set-up, and a way that in the end will attract even better candidates because you are an organization that cares about people.


Christopher Lawrence, a guy who cares a lot about your success, your organizations success and each and every single person he comes into contact with.


Want to know more about Christopher

Christopher is the Chief Value Officer and Founder of Change My Life Coaching and Co-Founder of Change My Business Coaching and the Healthy Transformations Weight Loss & Inflammation Reduction Program.  Change my Life Coaching is a fast growing whole-life, leadership and business coaching company, and the only one of it’s kind.  He is also the author of “Go Beyond Passion: Discover Your Dream Job”. Christopher spent 15+ years working in the corporate world with a plethora of industries and companies. His focus was primarily in planning, strategy, and leadership of change management and communication. Christopher is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (CMCP), trainer and facilitator, and a passionate public speaker who truly cares about the success of each and every single person he comes into contact with. You can reach him at