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An interesting phenomenon has currently come to the fore. An increasing number of organizations aren’t sending a notification these days to the applicants it interviews but doesn’t select. Surprisingly, this practice is becoming more prevalent at all levels including, in some cases, even C-level executives after being interviewed by company boards.

The phenomenon applies to other programs as well, where applicants have prepared extensive material, gone through several rounds of participation and are either left dangling altogether or receive a template rejection note that is highly impersonal and even abrupt.

Why do companies do this? According to a recent article in U.S. News this growing habit is one of job seekers or program applicants’ greatest annoyance these days. Rejection is hard, but even more infuriating or disappointing to applicants is being rejected in a thoughtless and impersonal way, or never hearing from the organization after the interview again.

In the article, author Natasha Rhodes lists the following reasons companies give for ignoring this task:

1. Sheer volume. It’s a buyers market and a hard economy. Dr. John Sullivan, of ERE, reports the ratios are running as high as 250 resumes and applicants for every available job.

2. Fear of being sued. The emotion and trauma of the recession is bringing an increase in employment lawsuits. Discrimination, improper hiring practice—employers are fearful of sending a rejection letter that could increase the possibility of getting sued.

3. It puts their office staff on the firing line. With workloads and job stressers already high, companies are loath to ask their office staff to spend time on the line with rejected applicants who are angry, who are venting, or who are hoping beyond hope to talk their way back into the job.

3. It puts their office staff on the firing line. With workloads and job stressers already high, companies are loath to ask their office staff to spend time on the line with rejected applicants who are angry, who are venting, or who are hoping beyond hope to talk their way back into the job.

4. They want to keep their options open. What if the first choice applicant doesn’t accept or the hiring doesn’t come through? It’s easier for companies to proceed to their next selection if their second choice was never formally rejected.

In my opinion, all of these reasons are unacceptable. For the applicants who aren’t selected for a program, or who don’t get the job, the notification provides them with closure. Even better, consider a personal call. That short call–one that doesn’t provide the kind of details that could potentially introduce the risk of liability, of course—will not only make a world of difference for the waiting applicant, but can actually build positive brand equity for the company, even when the answer is “no”.

That extra moment of effort could make the applicant willing to re-apply for a better-fitting position within the company. It could also make them more likely to do business with the company in question, and more willing to recommend the firm (as an employer and as a business) to friends. Isn’t that worth the investment of a simple call? Or even a voice message? Or a friendly and personalized letter that expresses gratitude for the time and effort involved?

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