Why 'Only Shortlisted Candidates Will Be Contacted' Is the Wrong Policy

Why ‘Only Shortlisted Candidates Will Be Contacted’ Is the Wrong Policy

One of the most challenging aspects of recruitment for employers is managing the applications. It’s easy to see where it all falls down: dealing with the candidates you DON’T want.  Think of it like an advertisement for John West – it’s how you manage the fish that John West rejects.

Whilst I understand how much time is invested in managing the candidate(s) that you want to progress through to a job offer, we can’t ignore the people who are ‘not right’, no matter how time poor we are.

A comment made on a recent article in the Sydney Daily Telegraph highlights how our lack of care impacts those people who ARE making a concerted effort to find a job:

‘…HOWEVER Employers are not blameless. I have submitted more than 20 email applications in the past 3 months, all individually written and addressing the job criteria and with my CV attached, having the sections relevant to the job highlighted. Only ONE employer sent a thank you for your application response. What happened to good manners? This modern trend of only shortlisted candidates will be contacted is cruel and depressing for jobseekers. It takes but seconds to send a thanks but no thanks reply and at least tells jobseekers that their efforts are not falling on deaf ears.’

Now, I know that this is an issue with recruiters, and they need to have systems and processes to manage the thousands of applications they receive.  But it isn’t just recruiters – employers are also failing to treat applicants with respect.

To be honest, I agree with Alan; this whole ‘only shortlisted candidates will be contacted’ policy is terrible. Everyone deserves, at the very least, an email to let them know that their application has been received, looked at, and that they are unsuccessful.  Whilst I know generic emails are mostly useless, at least they send a message to acknowledge that the application has been considered.

Nobody is perfect, and applications can slip through the cracks, but it helps if we remember that every single candidate, no matter how appropriate or not for the role, deserves to be treated with respect and consideration.

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Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson

Shared Services Manager at people2people
Lisa has been working in the recruitment industry since 1996, working in administration and payroll processing, temporary and permanent recruitment for accounting and finance professionals. In February 2007, Lisa joined onsiite, the RPO subsidiary of people2people, having worked with and known the Directors since 2000. Lisa now manages the shared services and administration division for people2people and onsiite.


  1. Hank Yap says:

    Imagine having over 10-20 applicants on a daily basis for a month! That is the amount of applicants we receive on average. Most candidates are actually spammers. Even those who try to spruce up their CV to meet the requirement do not qualify. Why should HR practitioners spend time responding to those who actually do not qualify? Even if they do, and are not selected, would have quickly moved on because, hey, they are actually also sending out 10-15 application per day. All thing being equal, most applicants are being treated the way they are treating others!

  2. John Archer says:

    ” Why should HR practitioners spend time responding to those who actually do not qualify?”

    Because it’s your job, you lazy ass.

  3. Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

    Firstly, I am bitterly disappointed that I missed Hank’s original comment (damn it, damn it, damn it) but I am LOVE LOVE LOVING the comment from Mr Archer because he is DEAD right!

    If your job is to review resumes then it’s your job to treat every single applicant with some respect. It is completely irrelevant that the applicant has applied for a job for which they are unsuited, YOU need to treat them with respect.

    10-20 applicants a day is not a lot. And its very easy to set up form emails to let someone know that they have been unsuccessful. It’s very easy to set up form emails to acknowledge an application in the first place.

    I am horrified to think that HR professionals think that it is appropriate to ignore applications. I am horrified to think that HR professionals think that a resume that has been ‘spruced up’ to meet the requirements for the job does not deserve an acknowledgement. Dear Lord, you are saying that someone who actually put considerable thought and effort into their application do not even deserve the courtesy of a form reply. I think I may have misused the word ‘professional’.

    In the end, I leave it with Mr Archer…do your job.

    • Paul omondi says:

      Yes apply for a job in Kenya costs one 5 k and movements searching for all those documents ,photocopies,etc then why just ,a simple word of your application has been received ,and will contact you incase you are sucessfull

  4. […] choose to go ahead and ignore your advice. But the perception of HR is not helped by people like Hank. Hank thinks that managing 10 – 20 applications a day is onerous and he should not be expected to […]

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