Responsive recruiting

Only successful applicants will be contacted.
Only those candidates selected for interviews will be contacted.

Now that I’m in recruitment, phrases like these drive me crazy.

Let’s say you’re gardening in your front yard and a neighbour walks over and compliments you on your beautiful daisies. Do you ignore her? Or, you ask one of your kids to draw you a picture of your family and they come back with a picture of a spaceship. Do you take the picture without comment and throw it in the garbage?

Of course, the answer to both of the above is (or should be) no. But that’s exactly what you’re doing when you use phrases in your job listings like the ones above.

Here’s my take on what’s happening here. When someone applies to your job, they’re putting their hand up and saying:

“Hey! This looks like a cool job. You look like an interesting company. I’m pretty interesting too. Can we talk?”

Don’t you think it’s kind of rude to ignore an attempt at a conversation?

I get why you might do it though. Many applicants put in little effort. I recruit for Shopify and I’m constantly amazed at how many people apply without reading the job description and following the simple instructions. They’re obviously throwing their application and CV at any job with a pulse.

Here’s the thing though — when you set up your hiring practice to only respond to the ‘good’ applicants, who are you ignoring? Potential customers maybe? Applicants who might be ideal for a job you post in six months time? Applicants who are almost certainly going to tell colleagues, friends and family about their job-hunting experiences. Maybe even applicants who simply can’t respond the way you want them to.

Instead of ignoring them, why not respond to them? Your recruiting tactics are an integral part of marketing your company. Why would you not do everything you can to create a positive impression?

But what about volume I hear you say! I know every company is unique, but our Talent Acquisition team here at Shopify handles tens of thousands of applicants and leads each year. From experience, it’s easy to mark those not suitable in your applicant tracking system (which might just be an excel spreadsheet) as ’to be rejected’ and craft a response that you can reuse. I’m not saying that you need to write an essay to everyone who applies to you about why they didn’t get the job. I am saying though you can (easily) acknowledge them, thank them, reject them and wish them luck in their job search. Write a message like this with feeling, and copy/paste it for everyone who’s not right. Trust me, you’ll feel all sorts of awesome when you get a response from an applicant thanking you for taking the time. And bam! Just like that, you’ve created a positive impression for your company.

What an effort like this says about you, (and your company), is that you realize applying for a job is a process that can be scary, confronting and unnerving. You’re saying that you’ve been in the job applicant’s shoes, and you know what it’s like to send an application into the void, not knowing if anyone’s read it. You’re saying that you’re human….and the company you hire for cares about the people it interacts with. Why would you not want to do that?

When I was considering Shopify as a place to work, I reached out to Anna Lambert, our Director of Talent Acquisition. I asked her if the company had a part-time option. Bear in mind I wasn’t even applying yet. She knew nothing about me, but she took the time to respond (within two days!). Knowing now how busy she is, and how many people apply to work here, I find this incredible. Now that I work here, I know why we do it. And it feels good.

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