Recruiters Vs Applicants

In the recent days, there seems to be a lot of Linked In posts where some influencers have been openly criticising recruiters for not responding to applicants, for listing phone numbers and not answering them when candidates call or not providing feedback on unsuccessful applications or even not advising that they have been unsuccessful.

Understandably, this causes a lot frustrations for applicants when applying for jobs and in a lot of cases, applicants do not want to apply for jobs with these particular companies due to bad customer service. Despite the hiring managers being the clients and the candidates/applicants being the customers, they still need to provide equally flawless services to both parties in order for this to work. This is how it would be in an ideal world where there is not limit on time and no limitation regarding our human capabilities.

Well, Recruiters are not exactly sitting at their desks sipping coffees all day. Their days are fully packed. 

From sourcing candidates, calling candidates and hiring managers, going in and out of meetings and trainings, processing job applications and more, they barely have time for anything else. Instead of pointing fingers, the course of action is to understand both sides and come up with a solution. 

How positive applicants’ experience can improve the recruiters’ and companies’ profiles

In this technological age where the distribution of information can spread like wildfire, there is a lot of judgement cast around solely based on one single post that may or may not have been fact-checked and should it go viral, this could unfairly damage the reputation of a company within months. 

Recruiters need to keep all their stakeholders satisfied, and it goes without saying that there is also a cultural intent to keep the hiring managers satisfied. But what about the applicants who have been unsuccessful? Well, once they have been deemed unfit for the position, recruiters then move on to more “suitable” candidates. As effective as this may seem in the immediate, it seems to be short-sighted. We addressed this in point no.3, in the below section.

How to provide great service to unsuccessful applicants? 

Before talking about improving customer experience fur unsuccessful applicants, we need to know what they want. That should be easy enough to know, because most of us have been in that situation before. We would hope so as this would equip recruiters with emotional insights to help them be better at what they do.

To be honest, what the unsuccessful applicants really want are as below: 

  1. They want to know IF they have been selected
  2. They want to know WHY they have not been selected
  3. If possible, they want to HAVE some guidance as to what they need so they can be successful for future applications with the company 

Let’s address the above-listed points. 

  • They want to know IF they have been selected 

Why do applicants want to know why they were not selected?  Simply because they want to have closure so they can move on to the next job application. By knowing that they have been unsuccessful for that particular position, they will come to terms with it and move on to the next one. 

  • They want to know WHY they have not been selected

Why do applicants want to know why they were not selected for that position? Getting feedback on how they did against other candidates will provide them with insights on what skills and experiences they were lacking and improve on those shortcomings for future applications. 

  • They want to HAVE some guidance as to what they need so they can be successful for future applications with the company 

Having an unsuccessful candidate who is willing to take steps to be successful in a position with a particular company should not be taken lightly as it already shows a commitment to that company. Although this is not a guarantee of longevity, it clearly shows commitment. The most sensible course of action would be to invest in that applicant and guide him/her to a path that may lead to a successful job placement. It is not because an applicant is not employee yet that we cannot facilitate his or her placement by providing tips and guidance on how to be successful in their future applications with the same company.  

This is however not entirely up to the recruiter. In order for this to work seamlessly, it has to be agreed upon by all levels of management, in other words embedded into the company’s culture. 

Why are recruiters not providing adequate feedback and guidance to unsuccessful applicants? 

While some recruiters are going above and beyond to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants, the main reason why other recruiters are not able to do so is mostly due to lack of time. Their days are so packed that they have to rely on generic automated emails to advise unsuccessful applicants, and in some cases not send anything at all. 

There are so many hours in a day and so much that a recruiter can do, not to mention meetings with their teams, managers, candidates, trainings and more. All these factor in their ability to send proper feedback. Unsuccessful applicants want clear and specific feedback that they can use for future applications. 

How to improve the job application process to allow recruiters to invest more in unsuccessful applicants? 

In order to bring improvement for both parties, we need to identify the tasks and actions from both sides that are disrupting the flow. 

Improving the Applicant’s experience. 

In order to improve the applicant’s experience, we need to map out their journey. 

Lets start with the applicant’s journey: 

  1. Applicant views job post on job-board
  2. Applicant clicks on apply
  3. The applicant gets taken to the company’s portal (sometimes)
  4. Applicant is asked to upload resume and cover letter
  5. Applicant is also asked to fill out the resume details on the company’s portal for algorithm to filter out skills and experiences (sometimes) 
  6. Applicant finally submits application

We need to keep in mind that most applicants look for work out of need, not out of boredom, although some do, and we need to treat their applications with the seriousness they deserve and not just some task that needs to be ticked off. The main driving reason for job applications is financially motivated, which will eventually lead to a better quality of life for applicants. This means that looking for work comes with added stress and having to go through a series of hoops in order to apply for just one position does not help.

To remedy this situation, we need to spot unnecessary steps that, if removed, can significantly improve the experience for the applicant. 

Step One – Keep the applicants on the same platform. 

Despite not having a physical impact, being redirected to another website when applying for jobs is an added step for the applicants that keeps them further away from their intended goal. Some would argue if the applicants really wanted the job, they will go through any challenges. This is an unnecessary obstacle that does not amount to anything constructive that ends up resulting in added frustration and stress.  

By keeping the applicants on the same platform, it improves their experience and keeps them motivated and focused when applying for the position with the company. 

Step two – The upload of resumes. 

With the rise of professional networking platforms such as Linked In, Xing or Für Alle, where members already have their skills and experiences listed, realistically speaking we do not need to use an archaic method such as uploading resumes. 

 On a busy day, on average a recruiter is expected to manage a daily inbox of about 100/200 applications with attachments, which can be time-consuming and can take a lot of time to get through, partly due to the volume and the time documents take to load, thus bearing a heavy toll on the IT infrastructure. By dropping resumes uploads, it would save time for the recruiter and reduce IT infrastructure costs. 

Since recruiters are nowadays able to view candidates’ profiles online, provided that members have completed their profiles, they will be able to peruse the applicants skills etc and move forward with the application. This also means that the application process will need to be amended as well. Recruiters could invest that time that they gained back by providing feedback unsuccessful candidates, thus increasing their success rates for future applications. 

Step Three – Reduce double-handling.

The third step is to prevent the applicants from having to enter their resume details on the company’s portal so that the algorithm or the recruiter can filter applicants by skills and experiences, when the applicant has previously uploaded his/resume. For sure this saves time an effort for recruiters because it filters out “unqualified” applicants.

How does this leave the applicant?

Frustrated and in some cases not willing to complete the application as he/she has lost interest in the position. From a marketing point of view, this will add to your website’s bounce rate and this is not a good metric for your statistics. 

Fourth step: Remove cover letters from the equation

The purpose of a cover letter is to give the recruiter and the hiring manager an aperçu of who the candidate is and make them stand out from hundreds of applicants with similar skills and experiences. It is one of the decisive factors that may make the recruiter call the applicant for a phone-screening. Or maybe not. 

Same as text messaging, the cover letter cannot convey tone and in that aspect should not really be used as a decisive factor. A one/minute minute video will give the recruiter a much better idea of who the candidate is and help them decide whether they should call that candidate or not. The introduction video can later be discarded for privacy and cost-reduction purposes. 

How to help recruiters assist with improving the applicants success rate? 

In order to do that, we have to look at how the recruiter sources candidates. The below workflow is a generic one and there may be some variations depending on the recruiter’s experience and company culture and regulations. 

  1. Recruiter receives a requisition from Hiring manager
  2. Recruiter drafts a job advertisement based on the requisition
  3. Once approved by all parties, the recruiter posts the job on a job-board
  4. Recruiter closes job post once the required amount of applications have been received
  5. Recruiter pre-selects the hundreds of applicants by scanning their cover letters and resumes
  6. Recruiter phone-screens the pre-selected candidates
  7. Once the phone-screened candidates have been assessed, the assessments get sent to hiring managers for approval
  8. Interviews are organised with hiring managers and HR/recruiter once approved
  9. Should the candidate be deemed a good fit for the department and company, the candidate is then moved onto the onboarding stage
  10. If the candidate is somehow unsuccessful at the last stage or decides not to take the position, the recruiter has to start all over again.

As you can see above, the recruiter’s day is packed and you can appreciate the amount of work that they put in sourcing and placing candidates. If we could make the application process more efficient for them, they would spend less time on administrative tasks and more time with job applicants. 

In order to do this, we need to remove some steps from their workflow.

Step One – Recruiters must lose the job post based on the amount of applicants or days that it has been opened. 

This will limit the number of applications that the recruiter is able to process and helps with focusing on the candidates at hand. 

Step Two – Stop using Cover letters 

As previously mentioned, a one/two minutes video will provide a lot more information about the applicants than a cover letter can ever do. For example, the introduction video will given the recruiter an idea of the applicant’s presentation, tone of voice, body language cues, confidence that the applicant projects thus removing the need for phone-screening, unless more information is needed. 

Step Three – Request online resumes as opposed to attachments  

Depending on the applicants’ preferences, a fair bit of them have their skills, experiences and qualifications listed online. Perusing an online resume as long as you can access it, will allow you view it faster as it will load faster due to HTML and CSS coding as opposed to waiting for PDF file to load, which is essentially an image, which, believe it or not weighs a lot more than HTML and CSS codes.

Step Four – Stop job posting

This is a tricky one. There might be a legal or auditing reason as to why companies need to show that they need more employees, but it would save recruiters a lot more time if they did not have to post jobs and process applications received. 

For example, they could just go the platforms they use, do a comprehensive search based on skills, experiences and qualifications, for interesting candidates and get in touch with them. This will save them at least 2 to 3 hours a day. This will also prompt job seekers to network more and improve on this particular skill. 


Changes for improvement are not easy to implement and they can be stressful, tiring and time-consuming, however if we do support each other, it will be easier to implement.

We are committed to improving the process and increase the job application success rate for job applicants.

Join Für Alle to be part if it.

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