Recruitment

An Open Letter to Recruiters

Speaking to fellow graduates, I learned that my experience has not been unique – many feel that something needs to be done to change the status quo.


Like many university graduates, I have recently found myself entering the job hunt. After spending four years studying at Harvard and Oxford, I had relatively high expectations. Though I knew job applications would be challenging, requiring a high level of attention and commitment, I was shocked by the reality of the process. I had no idea that applying for jobs could be such a negative experience.

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Speaking to fellow graduates, I learned that my experience has not been unique – in fact, many feel that something needs to be done to change the status quo. For this reason, I have decided to take some time to point out how this process can go wrong.

So, to all the HR and recruitment managers out there, I would like to suggest we all work together towards creating an experience that makes everyone happy. 

Never hearing back

For one, more effort must be put into communicating effectively with candidates. I can hardly count the number of my completed applications that never got a single response. Not only does this practice leave candidates in the dark, but it is off-putting. 

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Having spent hours writing an application to then not receive an answer signals a lack of respect. Personally, I would think twice about sending in other applications to companies that I did not hear back from. Speaking with others, the biggest criticism of HR recruitment continues to be a failure to communicate. 

Ineffective communication

Likewise, ineffective communication is stressful and additionally burdensome on applicants. Several organizations fail to deliver on their promises when candidates are told to expect a response by a certain date. Although it is completely understandable that processing many applications might take longer than expected, leaving candidates waiting for weeks or even months without communication is not acceptable. 

Confusing job descriptions

It has been my experience that flicking through jobs advertisements can be both daunting and confusing. What classifies as an “entry-level” job can paradoxically translate to a position that requires three years or more experience. 

More than this, job descriptions themselves are often unclear, failing to adequately distinguish between desirable and essential qualities. For example, I have applied to jobs where a specific master is listed as desirable but not essential and received in my feedback that I needed to have it.  

User experience for the applicant

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Finally, from the perspective of a user, organizations with decentralized application pages (e.g. applications through Linkedin) feel clunky and can be difficult to use. I have encountered HR processes several times that ask you separately attach a CV and cover letter to an email, fill in information about yourself on one website and then answer further questions on another platform altogether. 

All in all, my advice to HR managers and recruitment organizations is to place yourselves in the shoes of the applicant. In my view, these problems can be understood and solved by making the user experience a top priority. 

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