As a preface, I understand how painful it could be to sort through 5,000 applications for a software engineering job, with applications flowing in faster than one can manage. However, from the applicant side, it's been a tough year for me, applying to every "new grad" software engineering jobs I can find, and getting little in the way of actionable feedback.
To be clear, the lack of response to my resume is not the fault of the world, or the fault of the companies to which I'm applying, obviously my lack of work experience, and overall lackluster resume are the cause. That being said, the process by which I'm attempting to refine my resume doesn't seem to be working, and I increasingly feel frustrated with the responses I get as a rejection. I don't intend to write a piece just to whine about a process that appears to be a relatively fair process, but I would like to offer some ideas that could really help out people in positions like mine.
I have a few ideas that I would love to see implemented, maybe someone at a medium sized startup could try some of these out. Before the others, we need a metric to see how the current system is seen by the applicants, so we need a 0-10 button at the bottom of the rejection letter, and a response form if deemed desirable. Let's get a baseline for how people feel with the current no-reply "Thanks for applying! We had thousands of qualified applicants...." rejections.
The first idea, please send letters from real people. There is little worse than to get a rejection letter from a
no-replyemail, that leaves quite a sour taste in the mouth. I understand that there may be a constraint at many companies feel that there would be too many replies into employee emails, and that's possible, but I would implore companies to at least test it. A "careers" email would be better, for god's sake.
Secondly, a couple of generalized buckets for rejection. I understand that spending 15 minutes for each applicant writing a note about why you rejected them is untenable, however, I don't see why you couldn't bucket applicants into simple groups -- for example: not enough work experience and a blurb about what the company is looking for with respects to the offered job, possibly even an idea for them, "it might be easier if you try to get an internship," etc. One paragraph would take 5-10 minutes for the recruiter to write up, and would be greatly appreciated by people trying their best to find some work.
Thirdly, please send something. There are jobs that I've applied to 9 months ago and haven't heard back. A good friend of mine got a rejection email a year after he applied to Dropbox, meanwhile he had been working at his new job for months. Just set a timer that if you don't touch someones application for 3 months it puts them on a short list, then you can review the list and shoot off some emails.
Fourth, accept smaller tranches of applicants. Why accept 5,000 applications at once when it will take you 6 months to get through them all. Turning on and off the job application isn't the worst thing in the world. Accept 500 at a time, respond, move on. When I see jobs on LinkedIn with 3,000+ applications, it almost doesn't make sense applying (although I do) because of the sometimes 6 month response time. For example, I applied to Cloudflare, and a few days later, they asked for a small project, an aptitude test of sorts. They said I would hear back in two weeks. That was in the middle of October. Thanks to Ellie at Cloudflare, for responding to my email in early December telling me that it was taking longer than expected, but it's unfortunate to have to write an email after 4x the time I was told. Especially after spending a morning learning their software to write and submit a project, even if the
HTMLRewriterproject was quite interesting.
I'm not naive, I do understand that if I were to optimize the application process on paper, I'd end up with something quite similar to what exists at most companies. As well, I understand that it isn't strictly beneficial, as a company, to spend time on helping out those who get rejected from positions at your company. However, to all those out there in my positions, new grads, or layoffs, or otherwise, the current process is a tough pill to swallow. Hopefully one day, some changes can be made. Meanwhile, I'm off to apply to more listings, and email some more recruiters.