President Orders End to Job Seeker “Black Hole”

The federal government is about to do what the private sector can do, knows it should, but doesn’t. That’s to let job candidates know where they stand in the hiring process.

It’s taking a Presidential order to make it happen, but the directives in Barack Obama’s official memorandum — Improving the Federal Recruitment and Hiring Process — order a broad reform of the government’s recruitment and hiring program.

Among the changes is a reduction in the time to hire, acceptance of resumes, simplification of online forms, and elimination of the written essays all candidates must submit just to apply. In addition, hiring managers will get to select from a pool of qualified applicants, rather than pick from among three candidates.

There’s plenty more in the memo that clearly has been in the planning stages for months. The Office of Personnel Management already has  a website dedicated to the hiring reform program. Yesterday, the day after the order was issued, HR leaders from most of the federal agencies met to consider how to implement the directives and hear what’s expected of them and how fast.

To nudge the agencies to move quickly, the Presidential memo requires the federal Office of Personnel Management to report on the progress publicly by creating a public human resources website that will also share agency best practices.

From a job seeker’s point of view, just getting a response to an application will be an improvement.

Survey after survey shows that job seekers are most unhappy with the treatment they get after applying for a job. In their entertaining, if troubling, 2008 report entitled How Are Job Seekers Really Treated by America’s “Top” Corporations? Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler found that 22 percent of the companies didn’t even acknowledge an application.

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Principals of the recruitment consultancy CareerXroads, Crispin and Mehler scrutinized the online hiring process of the companies that earned a spot on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list. Using a fictitious resume, they applied to each of them. The majority acknowledged receipt of the resume, but some never even mentioned the name of the company.

Only 18 of the companies sent emails when the position was filled.

For the federal government at least, there won’t be a candidate black hole anymore. When the procedures are put into place, candidates who apply through USAJobs will not only have their application acknowledged, they’ll be contacted no less than four more times so they know where they stand and when the position is filled.

“The current hiring system uses overly complex job descriptions, involves filling out lengthy forms and essays, and is a black hole, providing no feedback to applicants along the way,” Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients, of the Office of Management and Budget, was quoted as saying.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


49 Comments on “President Orders End to Job Seeker “Black Hole”

  1. Hmmm. As many of our wise commentators wisely state, since the Federal Government is inherently incapable of doing anything right, this must all be a sinister conspiracy of the tree-hugging Islamo-fascists there to force us into a one-world socialist government headed by Rahm Emmanuel, the Anti-Christ.

    Tea, Anyone? 😉

    But seriously, I thank Mark and Gerry for showing us that 82%
    of the “Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work” For appear unwilling to spend $2.00/hr or less on Virtual Assistants to inform people when jobs they applied for are filled. I wonder what the percentage is is of the remaining 400 of the Fortune 500?



  2. With all due respect to job seekers, most companies do send a reply to applicants at the time when they apply for a job. Typically it says: Thank you for your application. Your resume will be reviewed and if there is interest, you will be contacted.

    Hundreds of candidates apply for positions for which they are not qualified in hopes “they will see my resume.” That is not how it works. If you don’t meet the basic qualifications of a position, you are not considered a candidate, period. Go to the Department of Labor and read the lengthy regulations on “Who Is An Internet Applicant”? This law came about on February 6, 2006 and applies to all Federal Contractors (companies doing business with the Federal Government — and there are many).

    In this economy, employers are receiving hundreds of resumes for each position they post. If you don’t meet the requirements of the position, you are simply not an applicant and, therefore, there should not be an expectation of getting a phone call from a recruiter.

  3. The issue here is how we’ve allowed technology platforms to become the “black hole” in the hiring process(transactional). The integration of technology should have made our jobs easier. However, the reality is our role has been minimized to the degree that “anyone” can do the job. I will say this over and over again our role is about relationships, “OPEN” communication, connectivity, engagement feedback, dialogue and establishing trust. This is what candidates expect. Unfortunately for many organizations, the online application/recruitment process is a broken system that must be fixed.

    Many candidates apply for positions only to get a “form letter” and then in most cases, they never hear from the company again. For many people it is a waste time, effort and energy! I question how many great people organizations never meet because of this broken system. Technolgoy is imperative but, we have to continue to be smarter in how we use it to successfully do our jobs.

  4. So for those who apply to USAJobs, they shall be contacted no less than four times throughout the process. Excuse me for asking but isn’t this the kind of thing that leads to slow process? If you mandate that everyone deserves 4 calls, then all those calls are going to get in the way of making the offer call to the applicant while he is out there accepting another private sector offer. Flexibility is the key and the government will never be able to out flex the private sector.

  5. As a former jobseeker( amazingly enough, got my current job thru Careerbuilder ), I was always grateful for any reply that I got from a company website or from actually interviewing at a company. I did follow the rules on sending thank-you’s, etc. But the majority of the time, you send out a resume and hear absolutely nothing. I’m not talking here about jobs where you are not remotely qualified. Since I’m in technology, the job descriptions often have a laundry list of requirements that only Jesus could probably fill. If the company wants 20 technologies and you have 19, don’t you think that you are a pretty close match?
    Anyway, the poor job seekers would like some kind of acknowledgement that their paperwork was received. Email is pretty cheap and it can at least maintain the relationship and give the jobseeker some hope.

  6. Yep. That’s what we all want… at least 3 messages telling us to keep our hopes and expectations up and the final one telling us we shouldn’t have been sitting around waiting for the phone to ring in the first place.

    Federally mandated… courtesy? If this wasn’t “in the planning stages for months” and didn’t have an entire web site dedicated to this “program”, I’d find it funny. But since it actually happened, I find it historic, unprecedented, transparent, a “game changer”, and – make no mistake – this will save or create “choice and competition”, restore our reputation, and – let me be clear – we inherited this problem from the previous administration and – since we are in the worst economy since the great depression – this will bring us back from the brink and, as I’ve said time and time again, someone will be held responsible.

  7. Exactly right Heidi! Now read the actual memorandum and see if a simple technology integration is even mentioned. NOT! After November 1, just pick a government job – ANY job – and send a resume and cover letter and… you’ve created just as much mind-numbingly useless work for the recruiter as the TOP 3 qualified applicants. The “top 3 model” being expressly forbidden by the very same memorandum.

  8. If you haven’t started to review these tools that the Office of Personal Management has put out, you should. There is some really impressive stuff – especially in assessment strategy. Easy to digest, use and really get managers working quickly.

    Really strong work here, and something that companies should embrace. This is an excellent example of why you check public domain resources first for information. I would imagine that there are companies in the assessment space that would not like this type of information so readily available for free. You gotta check this out…

  9. Andrew:

    Thanks for sharing the link! It is a wonderful resource. What I’ve taken away from this is that HR Professionals and Hiring Managers must partner to create a win/win hiring strategy that effectively manages the applicant flow while fairly evaluating a candidate fit.

    In my experience there tends to be disconnect between HR and the Field where, HR does not understand the challenges that the field faces causing the field to reject the policy and procedures instituted by HR. Furthermore, issues arise from the field in regards to not being properly trained on recruiting, interviewing and selection techniques. Good hiring systems bridge the gap internally and enable candidates to understand where they fit in the process.

    Finally in my opinion pure transactional models do not work in achieving a sustainable competitive advantage especially if your goal is hiring quality people. Sure you may get an influx of resumes but, quantity does not equal quality.

  10. John,

    I laud President Obama for taking a leadership role in moving forward with a directive to improve the Federal Recruitment and Hiring Process. In his detailed Memorandum, dated May 11, 2010—President Obama has laid out the framework wherein all federal departments and agencies will now put into motion the important work of making access to federal employment less of a maze and more of a win/win result for each hiring entity, within the Federal Government, and for each competitive applicant.

    The focus now is on attracting quality candidates and moving to a hiring result through an efficient, cost effective and timely process–a result which tends to be the exact opposite of how federal hiring operates today.

    So, I applaud the directive and see that only good can come from such an effort. And by making agency heads responsible for leaving the comfort zone of the “status quo” I predict movement to replace those who were too comfortable with the way things were, with those gutsy enough to voice an opinion to move to improve the hiring process but were ignored.

    Kudos to those contributors who had input on the general and specific subject matter covered in the President’s Memorandum. It is a blueprint for improvement on a scale that will actually attract high potential candidates, inclusive of diversity, who would have never considered federal employment as a serious, attractive and viable career option.

  11. Incredible!

    Every private sector recruiter failing to offer basic courtesies to job-seekers caring enough to apply to their firms ought to be publicly embarrassed.

    That the gov’t can declare it possible to mandate the acknowledgment of receipt of application AND promise every candidate that they will get periodic status updates including notification about the filling of the opening is extra-ordinary.

    I am by no means in favor of gov’t mandates but, only 1 private sector firm in the united states makes a clear promise to job seekers equivalent to the notions above.

    1/3 of the firms that actually acknowledge job seekers who apply haven’t changed the 9mostly poorly written)default statement (and many more believe they do acknowledge…but they really don’t…because they fail to even check to see if the feature on their ATS is turned on).

    We have just concluded our latest round of mystery shopping and will describe it in coming sessions on the candidate experience i.e. at SHRM national.

    As far as I’m concerned, firms failing to meet these common courtesies should have their recruiters and their company names published on a site for all to see.

    Perhaps if the highest quality prospects realize that a firm can’t even meet a basic level of transparency and communication that EVERY US federal agency is committed to achieve, they won’t bother to apply. That ought to shame a few more firms into climbing on board.

    This past year 80% of the 100 best companies in America acknowledged the receipt of our application. That also means 20% of the firms recognized as affording the best employee environments can’t be bothered to engage a candidate at the most basic level.

  12. Gerry – I think you might be on to something. If federally mandated courtesy was prescribed, federally mandated shame and public embarrassment can’t be far behind. I think there are some wooden stocks in New England we can bring out and dust off for those truly mean-spirited recruiters and their hard-hearted employers. You know the ones – they have 40 positions to fill and get an average of 20 applicants per job? I just can’t imagine why 760 applicants didn’t get meaningful, personalized, and truly heart-felt rejections. As you rightly opine – “Incredible!” And now that it will only take a resume and cover letter to apply, perhaps doubling those numbers should give us an even better idea of those firms “failing to meet these common courtesies”.

    Oh I know, I know – they shouldn’t have been advertising in all those places if that many applicants were being attracted. Never mind that federally mandated diversity thing. And forget that bargaining unit contract. In fact, all that VEVRAA and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act stuff, and requirements to publish to local and state agencies – gone! Now that we have finally mandated them to treat everyone “equally” – scrapping that old-school Top 3 model – they can take even more time to evaluate people with those new and helpful evaluation tools. That should give them ample time to craft and send step-by-step-by step employment process letters “9clearly worded)” leading up to that deeply emotional rejection… so as not to disappoint anyone or hurt their feelings.

    Personally, I think you should publically name these embarrassing and discourteous companies at SHRM National. Just don’t forget to prominently publicize your own organization as the accuser. Although “accuser” might be too strong a word. Perhaps “discoveries by the mystery shoppers” should take the sting out of it. Hey – it’s for their own good!

    And serendipity has struck! Let’s have them hire 3 or 4 additional people for every government recruiter! Unemployment rates fall, courtesy indicators climb, and fewer hurt feelings too. It’s yet another “free” win-win program that offers the public exactly what they voted for.

  13. I like the idea of a “walk of shame” for these companies that advertise jobs, accept online applications, and then the client never hears anything back. I have an extensive list of these companies. If only these places would think how they felt if they were a jobseeker going to this companies web site and sending your critical information into a black hole. A few minutes in someone else’s shoes would help.

  14. I have a question for everyone who has felt the sting of rejection when applying for a position. What real difference does it make to you whether you get “the silent treatment” or whether you get several official communications on letterhead politely rejecting you as a candidate? Your response is the same no matter. Any rejection goes into file 13 and you keep going until you hit paydirt. And as recruiters, the only terribly productive reason to conduct any “excess” communication is you may be able to build a relationship in order to save the “rejected” candidate for another position. Must we really insist on mandates?

  15. Deborah – Ironically, the inane “neutral” communication along the way may actually build up your hopes and make the decision of accepting another bona-fide offer more difficult to do… while you wait for the outcome from the great communicators. I applaud your recommendation to “keep going until you hit paydirt”.

    I suspect that, in addition to acknowledging the applicant, a core issue of the Presidential memorandum is really about the speed of the decision… (appropriate for public or private sectors, and good or bad outcomes). Ostensibly, that is one of the goals in the memorandum (See Section 1, (c), (1), (i,ii,iii). Although, typical of the government, they’ve adopted the “If some is good, more is better” approach and required the implementation, data collection, evaluation, and reporting of progress in that area without recognizing that they’ve guaranteed much higher volumes and time consuming reviews by allowing resumes and cover letters to be used as applications. Then, in the very same sentence (Section 1, (a), (2)) saying you should “assess applicants using valid, reliable tools”. Again, implementing an additional step on higher volumes (in undefined formats) while mandating end-to-end assessment of both the quantitative process and the qualitative outcome.

    And by the way… put this in place by November 1, 2010.

  16. Dave, I completely agree; love your posts. Unless the rejected party loves framing rejection letters, saving them to show his grandchildren, they are useless in every other way I can think of.

    And the federal government by nature, is incapable of achieving efficiency, regardless of how many memos or mandates are put out.

  17. Now, if only those rejection letetrs were signed by the president they might be worth something someday. But then, maybe not. Think of the volumes of signatures that would flood the market…

  18. Deborah. your questions and concerns are reasonable points of discussion but not connected. Whether mandates are good or better than not or necessary under the circumstances or even desirable under any circumstances will be debated long and hard.

    The other question is whether it matters if you are constantly dissed by 90% of those you aspire to work with. Does it just matter to the person who will eventually forget and perhaps forgive when they get hired? Will those who have such a negative candidate experience turn around and create the same recruiting experience for their candidates when they have a chance to hire? Will the level of engagement be lower even for those who are hired and directly correlate to future performance?

    I’m more than willing to tell ticked off candidates to get over it and get on with their lives if someone can demonstrate that statistically they are as likely to perform at as high a level as they would working for a firm whose process “promised” a positive candidate experience and then delivered on the promise.

  19. Hi Dave. Actually, I have been outing those firms whose online experience is closest to the federal memo, and, to your semi-serious point about naming names at SHRM, I have several times during the last 15 years speaking on this very subject at SHRM national mentioned or listed as many as 100 firms by name as among the worst offenders.

    While everyone seems to focus on rejecting “mandates” (I bristle at it also but am smiling just the same)or are somehow assuming that the new Federal requirement demands all candidates are somehow “equal” (which they are not).

    Unless I’m misinterpreting something the letter requires a federal agency to tell all applicants they are in receipt and eventually they need to tell them they didn’t get the job as well as opening up consideration to requirements that are bona fide in the job but aren’t necessarily relevant to their test scores. Your very enjoyable missive seems assume it goes quite a bit further.

    This could be a very interesting time

  20. Gary,
    I can see where all the various dots may connect on this from many angles, but in a very pure hiring process, all this quality time spent communicating with those whom will not be hired, rather than on the persons who might be hired and finally the one successful hire, serves little purpose other than to those devotees of Ms. Manners, or to those whom have agendas that seek to benefit from the misery of those who won’t get hired. Either way and for whatever reasons, the federal government has sought to undermine the natural process of achieving a solid hire (ready, willing, and able) and impose mandates on private employers. Their very own mandates have been slowing them down and so they now are seeking some relief, yet weirdly but predictably replacing process with still more process. Not saying that applicants don’t “deserve” to be acknowledged. But spending 80% of hiring communications on non-successful applicants must be something that is on the “lower 40” priority list of most companies, or we would see more of it. Just sayin’ that it should not be “mandated.” Slippery slope and all that.

  21. @Gerry: Thank you again for providing us with useful facts.

    IMHO, this sums it up.
    1) Nobody likes to send out rejection letters.
    2) Recruiters and their superiors aren’t reworded for following up/rejecting candidates.
    3) Recruiters and their superiors (particularly at the higheest levels) aren’t penalized for unpleasant and/or dysfunctional hiring processes for B, C, D, and F-level candidates, or those without “connections”.
    4) Most companies seem unaware or unwilling to spend $2.00/hr or less on virtual assistants to remedy this situation.
    5) We talk about this continually, but nothing will likely be done until either 2 or 3 is in place within many organizations.


  22. Good summary Keith (I’m scanning the SocialRecruiting meeting from Long Island to day while finishing up my ppts on several gigs I’ll be doing about the candidate experience.

    A couple thoughts:

    – Many competitive corps are doing extraordinary work in this area and differentiating themselves among the highest quality candidates to the point that they are truly employers of choice.
    – Most firms, even those less competitive, are doing a better job than just 5 years ago.
    – Only a handful firms, Disney and P&G among them, have the data to define and align recruiting to produce an experience for all candidates that approaches world class.
    – Historically, we’ve not rewarded or incented recruiters and hiring managers to either understand or appreciate the needs of other stakeholders i.e. job seekers. Technology and a much better understanding of the customer experience (and its impact on future sales) have changed the equation to calculate an ROI and then do something about it.
    – We have a long way to go and while I’m not a fan of mandates, the tipping point is going to be the job seeker’s access to full transparency about the job, the hiring manager, the recruiter helping, other partners involved and the company. I believe we already have serious restriction of range as some of the best and brightest (i.e. highest quality prospects) in our society will not (I repeat) will not ever work for a firm larger than 500 employees because of the experience they expect to find.

    Next week I’ll be discussing what is arguably the difference between “world class” and “no class” at RecruitDC and at the end of the summer will be on the opposite side in a formal debate with Elaine Orler at HRTechnology just to make the point.

    What I think many miss is that the single most important impact of emerging social media tools is empowering the job seeker to make better choices. Just sayin’

  23. This problem will continue as long as candidates (and companies) continue to think that acknowledgment, status, and feedback are all the same.

    The first two can be handled typically through technology, although not all companies use ATS to manage their applicants. It is actually one of the primary reasons (if not THE reason) to have an ATS. Fact is that more applicants are rejected than ever accepted, and why companies don’t actually embrace this fact that they can automate the majority of the communication I will never fully understand. How different would this problem be if we called them “Applicant Rejection Systems” rather than “Applicant Tracking Systems”?

    Feedback is rarely ever just acknowledgment or simple status, but many lump those activities as them all together. As for the candidates, expecting all three is nice, right up until the time you give all three. If we did actually turn on personal acknowledgment, status, and feedback for every applicant that did not make it, we might as well call the function “REJECTION” not “RECRUITING” because statistically we would do more of that than anything. You think its tough to be a recruiter now? I feel sorry for dentists who give out pain personally on a daily basis…can you imagine if recruiters had to give that out each day personally?

    I applaud the companies that actually use their “ARS” to the fullest by automating responses, and having multiple responses along the way. Acknowledgment is pretty easy, and you can set up others along the way. I also applaud those that are honest in those transmissions by simply letting candidates know in those letters that the company is dedicated to serving the interests of its employees by investing time with viable future ones, rather than anyone who has an interest. As for the final “rejection” letter – the information you provide someone you interviewed should be different than the info you give someone you never screened, so make an effort to have a differentiation. That is not too hard to do, and legal will be cool with it if you are smart about it.

    As for candidates who seek more information on why a company does not want them, they really should get honest feedback from peers, ex-supervisors, and colleagues, as there may be reasons why they are really not getting through. Feedback from friends and colleagues tends to be more insightful and sinks in more, while feedback from strangers is quickly dismissed. This concept of feedback reception is obviously not limited to simply recruiting.

    As for recruiters, they will probably stay with the “its not you, its me” routine, but at least say that. Make sure your “ARS” is setup to help you communicate honestly and with no biases. You can’t please everyone, but at least use the technologies to let them know to be displeased.

  24. Gerry – Interesting time indeed… and thanks to John Zappe for providing the fodder!

    Bravo for putting your beliefs where your publications are by publicly listing those organizations identified as not up to standards. I will admit to not having seen or heard you at SHRM so… I’d appreciate it if you’d pass the salt, my foot is a bit tasteless.

    I think the memorandum goes NO further than you identified – thank goodness. I won’t re-write my previous posts which cite the lines in the memo you roughly outlined.

    That is, “Acknowledging” – add to that the volume of resumes/cover letters that are now EQUAL to an application.

    “Eventually [telling] them they didn’t get the job…” See Section 1, (2), (d) which mandates for any USAJOBS applicant “notifications at key stages of the application process.”

    As for “opening up consideration to requirements that are bona fide in the job but aren’t necessarily relevant to their test scores…” please read what the “category rating” approach is that President Obama recommends. Category rating has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with job requirements. NONE. The US Code Section 3319 of Title 5 he refers to forces the recruiter to use the “preference eligible” process. This is not a trivial process. For one thing, consideration of persons with service connected disabilities of more than 10% is required. [Please do not consider this in any way denigrating folks with service connected disabilities]. The complete requirements of this section are considerably more complex and, when combined with the prospect of gleaning this from a resume… uh, good luck. While I appreciate your reference to these things being not “necessarily relevant to their test scores” I can’t help but think this was a purely theoretical statement. In practice, this will be nearly impossible to do without hours of work on each *possible* veteran with a resume.

    Finally, my reference to applicants being equal refers to their treatment, not their qualifications… which may or may not be obvious from a resume/cover letter or “simple, plain language application” which means using those handy-dandy tools, while searching for preference-eligible items, and communicating with them while collecting process data, and evaluating it, and reporting on it… and having it in place by November 1.

  25. Andrew – Spot on!

    Although written feedback to a rejected applicant that is anything other than jimmies on a turd will likely be rejected outright by legal. Specificity is what is requested by applicants and broad-brush drivel is what they’ll nearly always get when “legal approval” is required.

  26. Dave, thanks for your comments. I’ll dig into them. In the past I’ve never had enough interest to understand the labrynthine(sp?) mysteries of federal hiring to care but clearly the times are a changing and this shot over the bow will reverberate over time.

  27. I believe this issue is really sad. It really shows just how bad the HR community become. We have HR Management and Owners in meetings talking about customer service, customer focus.

    Have we forgot that candidates are customers ? How many people have went through the interviews with several people phone and in person,assessments and talks that give the impression that you are “the one” and then you never hear from the company again.

    This is a sad state of affairs because getting back to the candidates is what everyone is preaching, but some of you are not doing it.

    It seems like the recruitment/Human Resources game is changing for the bad in some of us other there.

  28. I typically include in the body of the job posting a sentence on how to apply.

    1) I ask them to include a specific code in the subject that is different from the job posting ID.

    2) I ask them to answer a specific question or two

    Only a person that actually reads through the job posting and is interested would include this detail. And would get a personal reply.

    If don’t see any of the above, I will assume it was a robot generated requiring no further action on our part.

    This makes reviewing resumes lot easier.


  29. One of my favorite quotes on this subject:

    “If companies failed to respond to individuals’ concerns or questions about their brand or products, they would face detrimental consequences such as lost sales and a negative reputation in terms of customer service.

    So, if an organization doesn’t give applicants similar levels of time and respect as compared with customers and existing employees, what is the company losing in terms of talent?” (Gallup Organization)

    Why are some so opposed to treating applicants as if they were potential clients? We should all be concerned that these applicants are forming impressions of our companies with every step of the process.

    It used to be if you had a great experience with something you might tell 7 friends, but a bad experience might be shared with dozens. In this age of, social networking, YouTube, Facebook, blogging, etc. a bad impression of your company’s overall applicant experience can spread rapidly and reach thousands if not tens of thousands.

    It doesn’t take much research to turn up people’s opinions of your company and its hiring process. Chances are there is a great candidate out there who will never consider working for your organization based on what he/she has read.

  30. Let’s keep in mind that the federal government basically has unlimited resources at its disposal. If they choose to mandate something (such as the quantity of candidate touch points), they are only limited by the amount of money they can siphon from other areas of government. It has been my experience that most corporate recruiting functions do the best they can with the resources and funding at their disposal, which is not unlimited.

    Also, Obama had to goose the applicant system somehow in order to handle the unprecedented growth in goverment hiring. You cannot organically grow any organization at the pace at which he is progressing without the ability to move substantial amounts of candidates through the process as efectively as possible. My prediction: The US Goverment will be THE Employer of Choice by 2012.

    If there are any corporate recruiters out there looking for long-term job stability, I would imagine that there are a fair amount of government recruiting jobs available.

  31. Kevin – Let’s try even harder to keep in mind that the federal government only THINKS it has unlimited resources at its disposal. OUR resources are limited. The government works for US. The sooner this is learned, the better off we’ll be.

    It is frightening and to me, disturbing, to think that “government” and “unlimited resources” can be discussed as a given.

  32. Dave – I’m with you 100%! I’m all for smaller government, less taxes, less entitlements, etc. History has proven, however, that the federal goverment does what it chooses to do given the many piggy banks it has to draw from. He that makes the rules controls the game.

  33. News Flash – We make the rules. As difficult as it may be, changing our thinking about the government as being separate from, different than, or better than “We, the People…” has got to stop.

  34. @Dave: As the old joke goes:
    “What do you mean WE, White Man?
    If “we” you mean lobbyists and the powerful interests they represent, I by agree…Give a $1,000,000 through a PAC, get back $10,000,000,000 in return- seems like a good investment.


  35. Lisa,
    politeness does leave a good impression and I am not against that. But must we mandate it? After all, if everyone HAS to be polite, then we won’t think it extraordinary when we experience it. Competition is what creates excellence and intuitive response. That’s what I meant to convey.

  36. How do we all have time to spend commenting on this, but don’t have time to tell a candidate “no, but thanks”?

  37. This is very timely for me. If you think that telling a candidate how it’s going (whether it’s at the point of application, or at the point of offer) has no value, take a look at this note I got from a candidate just this week. Names are removed, but you get the idea.

    Sending an unsuccessful candidate away happy has huge value. Just imagine how many people he’d tell if he were disappointed in how we treated him? He certainly took a fair amount of effort to find my name and email address. Do you think he’ll tell a friend, or apply for another job? I do.

    Dear Mr. Crumley,

    I recently had the pleasure of interviewing (twice) for a media relations position with your company in Denver, Colorado. Unfortunately, I was not the final candidate selected to fill the position. Despite the disappointment in finishing second, I wanted to pass along to you the fact that your recruiter did an amazing job in coordinating the whole interview process. She was pleasant and professional each time I spoke with her. She was always upbeat. She followed through with confirmation e-mails, maps and all the necessary details. She was prompt in returning calls and she was apologetic when she had to re-schedule an interview time due to a change in the interview team schedule.

    Recruiting quality employees may be easier in this economy but having a great recruiting staff is an asset that pays off for your company now and when the labor pool tightens in the future. Recruiter is the kind of employee that makes your company an appealing employer for candidates like myself.

    I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated dealing with a professional team like the one you have.

    Thanks for your time.

    Candidate name.

  38. Wonderful letter.

    Steve, good thing you removed the recruiter’s name. She would otherwise be a hot lead for many other positions.

    I’ll guess that before closing her req. she also made sure that all candidates who applied and not just the silver medalists were informed by email that the position was filled but thanked them anyway for their interest.

    Encouraging those who might want to compete again more effectively by adding to the turn-down a description of what the successful candidate had beyond the basics would be world class and I don’t expect that for more than 1/1000 of recruiters (although is about 1/20 for all silver medalists. The rest just say thank you but you came in second or, don’t say anything at all.)

    I’m also guessing that you lead by example and all of your recruiters see this recruiters behavior as the standard for every opening.

    Just sayin’

  39. Steve – Great letter. These were the types of things that really brightened my day when recruiting. Not only is the recruiter a star but the candidate is as well. Rudely rejected or let down easy… this is absolutely the way to make a recruiter remember you in the future. I suspect the folks who interviewed the candidate also got similar, memorable letters. Thanks for sharing it.

    The comments on the original article have drifted far and wide but somehow, it seems, the value of “telling a candidate how it’s going” was questioned at the beginning of your post. I can’t find a comment that questions the VALUE of doing it. The point is that it has been federally mandated for all government employers, along with making the process more cumbersome (See US Code Section 3319 of Title 5, and the additional evaluative tools required) and undoubtedly increasing the volume since a resume/cover letter is all that’s required to be an applicant.

    But, hey, it does have a really nice name “Improving the Federal Recruitment & Hiring Process”. I wonder if anyone actually thinks that higher volume and additional screening, measuring, and reporting rules will be considered an “improvement” as long as the candidates get notified along the way.

  40. Had to weigh in as I run an organization dedicated to this subject (AllianceQ) and with members who realize the intrinsic value of treating candidates (no matter how many) as customers.
    All I see here from the naysayers of communicating with candidates after the application are EXCUSES. Obama isn’t the only Recruiting Leader to remove excuses. At Wachovia, we annually received over 750K applications a year and managed (through great leadership and creativity) to re-architect our process so that everyone of the applicants knew their status within 5 business days of application and throughout the process until a hiring decision was made.
    It’s not impossible, hell it’s not even tough to give high touch to candidates – it just requires as much commitment to it as other parts of your process.
    And PLEASE don’t hide behind “legal” in your reasons NOT to communicate to applicants post application. They aren’t looking for Dr. Phil advice, they really just want to know.

    Stop the excuses and prioritize the candidate experience before the government (or your own Marketing department) forces you to.

  41. “Naysayers of communicating with candidates…”? Phil – read the posts again. Whether to communicate with candidates or not wasn’t the point. Communicating is a given – it should be done – period. The issue is the MANDATE for all government agencies to do so.

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