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Why Don't Employers Acknowledge My Application? Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Workopolis.com Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit www.CareerActivist.com.

Question: I have sent out over 100 replies to advertisements for jobs that are posted online and in newspapers. It is very rare that I even get a simple reply that the place I've applied to has received my resume. Why don't employers take more time to at least let a job seeker like me know that the effort I've made to apply is appreciated? I find this very irritating and it makes me wonder about why I should buy that company's products if this is how they choose to treat me.
Nilesh Z., Longueuil, Quebec
Dear Nilesh,

You're right about the typical lack of response from employers when you apply for a job they've posted. Far more often than not, you never hear a peep from them unless you are one of the fortunate few who are selected for an interview regarding that position.

Why is this? Two basic reasons: one is the sheer volume of responses that a typical job ad produces, while the other is a lack of technology in many small and medium-size firms that might otherwise automate replies to employment applications. In terms of response volumes, a single posting for a position on a job site like Workopolis, Monster, CareerBuilder or other major player might bring in up to several hundred responses directly to the employer, particularly if the position that's advertised is situated in a major city.

This means that unless the employer who's posted the job has an electronic Applicant Tracking System (ATS) in place, which processes responses automatically, some poor human has to sort through all the online applications, plus the faxed resumes that start overflowing their in-basket, as well as the snail mail replies that arrive over a two to three week period. That same fatigued person would then have to personally respond to each application and let the sender know that their reply has been received. Whew!

Except, nowadays the majority of job applicants use e-mail or the Web to apply for jobs they've found online, especially when it comes to white collar positions. Which means that all an employer has to do is set up a specific e-mail address to receive replies for a particular job ad (such as financejob-007836@EnlightenedEmployer.ca), then turn on the "auto responder," and include a message that thanks the applicant for sending in their resume. That would at least let the applicant know that they haven't sent their material into the abyss.

In fact, it amazes me that many employers still treat job applicants like they don't matter much. I mean, these same job seekers might also be current or potential customers. Wouldn't it make sense to treat applicants as if they were at least as important as a stranger who walks in off the street to purchase your product or service?

Maybe if you sent a message protesting their treatment of you to the marketing or customer service department of each employer that has ignored you, letting them know that from now on you will choose to do business with their competitors, it will evenually trigger a change in the way things are done. But for now, try not to take it personally: keep on sending out applications, focus more on tapping into the hidden job market, and continue to persist with your search.
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