What to Do with Unwanted Candidates That Apply to YOUR Jobs

What to Do with Unwanted Candidates


In our annual survey of job seekers, the number one complaint is that after applying to jobs, they never hear a peep from the employer on their status, aside from receiving a generic automated email.  This certainly is not breaking news. 

In our employer survey, the number one complaint is you get too many unqualified (unwanted) candidates applying to your open jobs, which wastes a lot of time and resources.

Something has to give.

The truth is most employers, when reviewing candidates that have applied, have one thought in mind… “Did they read the job description?” and “What were they thinking!?”

Job seekers tell us they applied to your job because:

  1. The job description was very broad and they were not sure if they have the skills to get the job, so they applied.
  2. They want to work for your company and think that by applying, you may find another position for them that matched their skill set.
  3. To make sure to get into your applicant tracking system.
  4. They feel they are qualified even though they are not.
  5. It sounded interesting and something they would like to do.

Unwanted candidates clog up the system, double your workload, and cause great stress.  Certainly to minimize applications you can:

  1. Write exceptional job descriptions.  Add a line in the job description like “please don’t apply unless you meet all mandatory requirements”.
  2. Use “knock-out” questions.  This is technology that requires job seekers to answer specific questions before applying.  If they are all answered correctly, the candidate goes to the top of the list.  An example question may be, “have you graduated with a 4-year college degree?”.
  3. Put the main “must have” requirements of the job in the beginning of the job description. 
  4. Put in compensation levels especially for lower paying jobs.  Many job seekers complained that the job description is built up to make the job look like a higher paying job only to find out it paid $12.00 an hour.
  5. Make sure your career website is mobile friendly.  With over 40% of applications coming via mobile, it is too hard to read a job description on a cell phone.  Many will just apply to throw their hat in the ring.

The truth is no matter what you do, job seekers will apply even though they are not qualified.  Even if fifteen outstanding candidates apply, many companies will only pick a couple to interview and the rest will never get a response. 

Qualified and unqualified job seekers who apply to your jobs should be treated the same.  They could be customers, stock holders, or even a great referral source in the future.  One thing is for sure, they just want some feedback. 

Fifteen years ago, many companies would type out personalized letters and send it to each candidate letting them know their status (that would be a great strategy as well today, but very time consuming). 

Here are three ideas to help you let unwanted, and qualified but not hired candidates, know you love them:

  1. Have postcards to send to job seekers that only require a mailing label.  On the card, thank them for applying, let them know the position is filled and give them an idea about how your system will utilize their resume in the future.  (In other words, do they need to re-apply to jobs or will your system find them).  Make sure you include all of your career social accounts on this postcard.
  2. When they apply for a job, make the automated email sent to the job seeker very powerful.   Let them know your recruiting process, what they should expect, and who they may be able to contact if they have any questions. 
  3. After the job is closed, send them an email to let them know.  It is nowhere as powerful as a postcard (or letter), but quite honestly will give the job seeker closure.  This is not done very often.

With ATS systems filtering issues and bad resumes by qualified job seekers, many unwanted candidates are really gold. You want them to come back to other openings in the future and you will always be at the top of their list if you professionally give them some application response.





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