Home > Uncategorized > The Art of Turning Down Applicants

The Art of Turning Down Applicants

Most companies are in a constant state of flux. One quarter you may be hiring non-stop, the next you’re flush with candidates with not an available position in sight. It happens.

Even if you aren’t hiring right now, it’s important to stay in the good graces of those excess applicants. You never know when you’ll need that one “freelance writer with expert banjo playing skills”. And you don’t want her to refuse a job offer because you laughed her out of the office.

Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it does make a clear point. The hiring process can be incredibly time-consuming and demanding on job applicants. The last thing anyone wants to do is make it worse. Doing so could not only damage your reputation as a manager, it could also sully the reputation of the company.

In a recent article on HBR.org (Rise of the Rude Hiring Manager, 2014), the negative affect of bad hiring experiences is discussed. From too-long processes, to unclear intentions, to just plain rudeness, applicants judge managers just as much as managers judge them. The article also gives an idea of “what not to do” during the hiring process.

But what do you do when you aren’t hiring and still have job applicants coming in? Disclosure is key. Job seekers hate being lead along. They need a job and don’t want to sit around for days, even weeks, thinking you’re considering them for a position you don’t actually have.

How you tell an applicant that you’re not hiring is just as important. It’s not as simple as saying “Thanks, but we’re not interested” as you shuffle them out the door. You want them to know that you value their interest in the company, and though you aren’t looking right now you will be sure to have their application on hand when you do.

This is where an Applicant Tracking System comes in. A good ATS will handle the storage of applications and turn them into a searchable database. This is why many companies have switched to an electronic applications process in the first place. Of course, this does not offer a lot of face-to-face contact with applicants. Luckily, many electronic application systems can alert potential applicants that the company is not hiring, but will store their information for any positions that open.

In short, be honest but cordial with new applicants. Tell them up front if you plan on keeping applications or not. They may be temporarily disappointed, but at least they won’t be in a rage after wasting their time. Finally, keep track of applications in an ATS database. You never know when you’ll need to use the filter function to screen for “mad banjo skills”.

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