Dealing with rejection: Is it good marketing?

I heard a interesting piece on NPR tonight. Author Firoozeh Dumas talked about how her 16-year-old son’s internship application went unanswered by a local university professor last summer. This summer, same thing happened. Her son applied for two summer jobs and got neither the job nor a rejection letter. Dumas’ concern is not the rejection, which she rightly points out is a fact of life, but the fact that rejection letters no longer seem to be common practice. She writes, “Can’t [applicants] be rejected with common decency?,” and advises three sentences: “Thank you for applying. I have selected another candidate. I wish you luck in your job search.”

While Dumas’ main concern is about the loss of manners, I think the marketing implications are every bit as important.

Frankly, it would be great for all job applicants to hear back from every potential employer. With unemployment currently at 9.4%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are far too many people out of work, sitting by the phone, hoping to hear something. Days can feel like weeks when the phone is not ringing. But that may be asking too much of companies. Does that mean companies posting a job that elicits hundreds of resumes should respond to each and every one? No. That would be impractical and inefficient.

But what about the finalist candidates, the handful of people it made sense to meet with face to face? The contenders in the running for the position. Should companies make the time for Dumas’ suggested three sentence stock reply?

I’d wager yes, and not because of altruism. These applicants are possible consumers of your company’s products, they may be potential hires down the road, or they may be in a position of influence within your industry now or in the future. Social media makes it easier than ever for consumers to talk about their job hunting experiences, and you want them to say nice things. How you treat job candidates should be every bit as important as how you treat your customers and clients. It is simply good marketing.

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