5 Practical Tips for Not Looking Like a Resume Black Hole

If you're hiring job seekers who have a hard-to-find skill set (e.g. most software engineers), you may be discouraging the best from applying because you look like a resume black hole, a company that never responds to resumes from job seekers. Additionally, if you actually are a resume black hole, you're probably getting a bad reputation among job seekers. They talk, and once they've spent time updating their resume, crafting a cover letter, and possibly answering a puzzle you asked only to never hear from you, the talk won't be good.

Most job seekers are very familiar with calls for resume submissions. Be it on a job board or on your company's jobs page, they know it's unlikely they'll ever hear anything back. Worse yet, you'll miss both the best passive and active job seekers. You'll miss passive/casual job seekers because they'll be reluctant to exert effort to update their resume and write a cover letter on such an uncertain prospect. You'll miss great active job seekers because they probably have multiple options and they need to be able to count on hearing from you in a timely fashion to compete with their other options.

Here are a few tips to let job seekers know you take them and your hiring process seriously. Some of these tips require fundamental shifts with respect to your hiring and screening process, so they may work better for smaller companies.

1) Explicitly state that you will respond to all candidates within X hours. To decrease the amount of time you spend replying to non-qualified applicants, just say, "We promise we'll let you know whether you'll move further in our process within 48 hours. Otherwise we'll just reply with 'Thank you, but we won't be moving forward with you'." Alternatively, you can offer to send feedback for less than qualified candidates. Either way, you need to give the job seeker some explicit assurance that a person will read their application; otherwise, the job seeker will assume they're at the mercy of some buzzword search tool.

2) Lay out your hiring process and timeline. Example: "After receiving your resume, if you progress through each stage, we'll do a phone screen within 3 days, bring you in for an interview within 10 days, and give you an offer within 15 days. We want to have you working here in just over a month."

3) Request a bit.ly link to their LinkedIn profile. Let them know that you'll click the link when you start reviewing their application. The job seeker will be able to monitor one of the earliest interactions you have with their application. It will keep you honest about #1 above and will give the job seeker an assurance that they'll be able to see your progress with their application. You need to explicitly ask for a shortened track-able link though. It's often considered rude to include these links in an email to a single party otherwise.

4) Don't just say "we're always looking for..." on your jobs page. When you say this, you convey that your request may not be fresh. If, for example, you really are always open to hiring any great developer who sends you a resume, consider posting a specific job or two and put a field next to the link that says "current as of X," where X might auto update every week.

5) If you stop hiring, take down your job posts. If you don't, you'll lose credibility for future hires. Job seekers will have invested time in sending you a resume, cover letter, and possibly an answer to a puzzle you requested. The word will get around. Make sure you take down posts on job boards and on your own jobs page. If you can't take them down, updated them with a note that the position is filled or no longer available.

At this point, you may be thinking "well, if they don't want to go through the trouble of applying, we don't want them." Think again. The best job seekers have plenty of competition for their skills. If you want a chance at getting them, you have to give a little.

About Hirelite

Hirelite runs web-based "speed interviewing" events to connect software engineers and companies hiring. If you're looking to evaluate the software job market or looking to hire, check out Hirelite.com. Our next event is on Tuesday, Nov 16 and focused on jobs around NYC.