Who is responsible for job application response?

Job application responseJob boards can do many with regard to job appli­ca­tion response for employ­ers: they can find and con­nect the employ­er to spe­cif­ic and tar­get­ed of can­di­dates. They can fos­ter a pos­i­tive image of the employ­er via brand­ing ser­vices. They can vet and deliv­er screened can­di­dates for a spe­cif­ic posi­tion. And they can ensure that the can­di­date has an opti­mal expe­ri­ence dur­ing the phase of find­ing a job.


The job can’t respond back to the can­di­date about the receipt of their appli­ca­tion. The job board can’t let the can­di­date know what the sta­tus of their job appli­ca­tion is with a spe­cif­ic employ­er.

Only the employ­er can do that. Why? Because the employ­er is hir­ing the can­di­date, not the job board!

But you know what? (Yes, I know you do!). Most employ­ers don’t tell can­di­dates any­thing. Why? Fill in the blank: ‘we’re under­staffed!’; ‘our ATS won’t do that!’ (oh yes it will!); ‘it’s not impor­tant!’; ‘if we respond to them, they start bug­ging us with emails and mes­sages!’; and so on. Let’s face it – job appli­ca­tion response isn’t on the top of their list.

Things could change – in fact, there could be an expec­ta­tion that job appli­ca­tion response is part of an employ­er’s respon­si­bil­i­ty when hir­ing. But…I may not live enough for that to hap­pen!

In the mean­time, what’s a job board to do? Here are some thoughts:

  • , accept that although employ­ers are respon­si­ble for job appli­ca­tion response, the real­i­ty is that most aren’t going to accept that respon­si­bil­i­ty.
  • , the job board should pro­vide as much feed­back as pos­si­ble to the can­di­date. For exam­ple: if the can­di­date clicks the ‘Apply’ but­ton and is sent to the employ­er’s ATS, then send an auto-reply to the can­di­date (assum­ing you have the email!) con­firm­ing that the employ­er will be respon­si­ble for com­mu­ni­cat­ing about the appli­ca­tion. Do the if the apply process occurs inside the job board­’s sys­tem.
  • Pro­vide the can­di­date with tools to ‘save’ job post­ing that they’re inter­est­ed in, track job post­ings that they’ve applied to, and orga­nize pro­files and/or resumes that they’ve cre­at­ed for dif­fer­ent types of roles. Yes, only a minor­i­ty of can­di­dates use these tools – but hav­ing them avail­able helps trust in your site.

None of the above is par­tic­u­lar­ly hard from a tech­ni­cal stand­point – but you’d be sur­prised how few job boards and recruit­ment sites have them. Adding them won’t solve the lack of job appli­ca­tion response, but it will affect your site’s brand – you will go from dis­mis­sive of can­di­dates’ com­plaints, to a friend and sup­port­er of the can­di­date. And if you adopt this mind­set, your tech­ni­cal team may well devel­op addi­tion­al ways that you can help the can­di­date – with­out be obtru­sive, and with­out mod­i­fy­ing the employ­er’s ‘hir­ing flow’ (for an exam­ple, see Job­Sync).

Per­haps your site will be the one that defeats the job appli­ca­tion response prob­lem! Aim high!

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