The case against mandatory job application feedback

There’s been a lot of talk recently about job application feedback, and some even say it should be a legal requirement for companies to tell applicants how they did. But some of my most miserable job hunting experiences have involved employer feedback.

A straight-out rejection might be disheartening, but at least it has an air of mystery about it. Maybe there was a slightly better candidate than you. Maybe you asked for too much money. Or maybe the company’s circumstances have changed and they’re no longer looking to recruit anybody for the role at all.

But feedback – at least when it is taken as sincere – has a finality to it. That’s the reason why it was so horrible to receive an automated rejection email recently that simply stated, “Competency demonstrated in key skills: None.”

Bear in mind that this was a response to a job application through one of those restrictive online forms. I hadn’t been to an interview and I hadn’t had a chance to show any individuality or creativity – I’d simply filled out my personal details.

What’s more, the personal information I had filled out included details of my professional certifications in the very field I was applying for a job in.

But no, someone clicked a button on a computer somewhere to send me a message telling me I had no competency to work in my field of expertise. The email was automatic, so I have no means of recourse, and I doubt many successful career moves have been made by telling a prospective employer that they’re wrong, anyway.

I’ll keep going and trying to find an elusive role in the current job market – I have no other choice – but it’s this kind of frustrating, impersonal, bureaucratic response that makes me feel like giving up and packing it all in.

So think twice before you demand that employers send feedback to candidates, because there’s no guarantee that it will be thoughtful feedback.


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