What No One Is Telling You About Your Job Application

Jun 19, 2019

Looking for a job sucks.

Between confusing job descriptions, awkward interviews, and countless rejection emails it’s easy to feel lost. A sense of anxiety starts to develop as you wonder where you’ll end up next. You question everything, but mostly yourself.

As a former recruiter and career coach I’ve come to recognize that no one is exempt from this process. Candidate experience is abysmal across the board, with over 75% of people never hearing back after they hit apply.

People have NO clue what’s happening behind the scenes or what they’re up against.

I wrote this shed some light.

The Volume Problem

The life cycle of an application looks a little bit like this:

  • Apply for job

If there’s a batch of 1,000 candidates, on average, only around 100 will get screened. Everyone that doesn’t is left in the dark, second guessing where they went wrong.

The truth is, companies are completely overwhelmed with volume- forcing them to rush the interview process and overlook people in their pipeline. When open roles are piling up and hiring managers are screaming at you, you don’t necessarily have the time to be “thoughtful” or think outside of the box when evaluating potential talent

Recruiters aren’t complete assholes, and most would engage if given the chance, they simply just don’t have the time to get back to everyone. Therefore the majority of applicants never see the light of day.

The reality is it doesn’t matter if you’re overly qualified for a role, underqualified, or not even close — your chances of getting seen are slim to none.

To avoid getting lost in the sauce, job seekers need to know what they’re up against! Simply hitting apply and waiting to hear back about a job isn’t a strategy that works. Do everything that you can to gain visibility, follow up on all applications, and do your best to get access in non-traditional ways.

For companies, it’s time to find new methods to vet people in your pipeline. Ensure that there’s a plan in place to review as many applications as possible. Give applicants a chance to showcase their skills or work on something creative to stand out from the crowd. Use technology to help you as you go.

Do things differently.

Pattern Matching

I’m no stranger to “pattern matching,” a.k.a the PC way of describing the discrimination that happens in the hiring process.

Did you go to the right school? Have you worked at a competitor? How old are you? Are you a career transitioner?

Do you look like you’ll fit in with the rest of the team or will you stick out like a sore thumb?

Can you match the employee prototype that was created before you? (God forbid you be different)

These are just a few of the questions that go through a recruiters head while taking the 30 or so seconds to look at your application- because that’s definitely enough time to make a judgment call.

Hiring is heavily influenced by referrals from this reason alone. It’s an easy way for a recruiter to get someone else to do the pattern matching for them, ensuring a similar pedigree and time back in their schedules.

The only thing pattern matching has done however, is create homogenous environments that are dying because of the lack of diversity. Maybe the next 50 employees shouldn’t look like the first 50, maybe just maybe they should be different.

Companies need to rethink what it means to be a “fit” and how it is communicated to job seekers. Actively sourcing individuals that break the pattern should also be encouraged.

It’s not a matter of leveling the playing field, it’s about giving people a chance.

The Lack of Feedback and Transparency

Rejection emails are mostly vague and rarely provide clarity.

Recruiters typically wait until months after a job is filled to tell people they “went in a different direction” and they never say why.

Canned verbiage replaces real feedback, leaving job seekers to decipher what “you didn’t meet the qualifications” means on their own.

It’s a huge mind fuck. Guessing what you didn’t do right, what it is about you that isn’t up to standard, what you could have done to improve your chances.

I’ve seen countless people suffer from depression in their search because of this and it’s time to create a new experience for everyone.

Companies must change how people receive feedback, the timing of when they get the feedback, and the CONTEXT of the feedback as well.

Saying that you went with someone that was more “qualified” without explicitly explaining what skills or criteria matter to the company (in that role)is doing everyone a disservice. Not only are you missing out on people that can be a great fit for an opportunity, but you’re discouraging them from ever applying again.

It is my hope that job seekers are able to move forward with a new perspective and be empowered. Although the system they’re up against is currently designed to fail, it doesn’t meant it can’t change.

It is my ask to companies to commit to reinventing the hiring process from top to bottom and make applicants feel like they matter. They are your consumers and the future of our workforce.

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