Who is responsible for job application response?

job application responseJob boards can do many things with regard to job application response for employers: they can find and connect the employer to specific and targeted groups 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 discovery phase of finding a job.


The job board 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 long enough for that to happen!

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

  • First, accept that although employers are responsible for job application response, the reality is that most aren’t going to accept that responsibility.
  • Next, 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 same 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 just having them available helps build 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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