Two pieces of bad news today: a “Dear John” email (“overqualified for the job”) and a “Dear John” call (“they really want someone with a consulting background”). What marks these out is that I actually got some feedback.

Most job applications, usually made online, drop into a black hole. Typically you do get an email acknowledging that your application has been received but usually that is the last that you hear. I give credit to LinkedIn for their system which at least tells you when your CV has been opened. Very occasionally you get an email with some feedback from a human, although in at least two cases I wonder whether they actually read my CV (by contrast, I think that the example above is probably fair comment).

Having been on the other side of the recruitment process many times I do understand the problem: when I got a couple of dozen applications (and it would probably be more now) they could usually be split into three categories:

  • good candidates, say 25%
  • possibles, another 25%
  • no chance, the remaining half

The latter group can be told straight away that they have no chance but to give real feedback takes a bit of time. Say 3-5 minutes each for half the group is 45-60 minutes, which you may not really have.

The good candidates you invite for interview and I certainly want to give them feedback. I have found that doing so at the end of the interview is a good option: it gives them a chance to counter what may be a misconception on your part, it is quicker than writing an email afterwards and not prone to getting lost in the stream of other work.

The possibles are there in case none of the “goods” work out. I like to give them some sort of holding message and then let them know at the end of the whole process.