Why Feedback is an Essential Part of Job Search

Rejection — the most dreaded word in a job applicant’s dictionary.

When Paul, a marketing professional between jobs, did not hear back again from his prospective employer, he knew the best he could do was move on. But without feedback, he felt stuck. He knew he was making the same mistakes and wanted to hear the truth — no matter how ugly — so he could adjust his strategy.

Recent studies have shown that more than 70% of American companies do not give any feedback to unsuccessful job applicants. Well, that’s an area that needs some rethinking.

There is no denying that some jobs (e.g., engineering, sales & marketing) attract thousands of applicants. In such cases it is not feasible — unrealistic even — to give a detailed feedback to every candidate interviewed. But those who got second and third interviews deserve to know why they didn’t make the cut.

Research by industry leaders Mark Mehler and Gerry Crispin reveals that many companies  overlook candidate feedback. Let’s delve into the issues recruiters and job seekers battle with and find some clear-cut solutions.

The most obvious explanation could be that recruiters do not want to get into the messy affair of dispensing bad news. Of course it’s hard for candidates to hear they haven’t been selected, especially when they have invested a great deal of time and effort into their application and interview. An automated rejection email cannot be a solution either. And a long protracted silence would complicate the matter even further.

Some hiring managers take the easy route of dishing out a vague, often confusing, rationale behind the rejection, which does no good to the applicant. And there are others who dread the idea of giving feedback for the fear of getting into a lawsuit.

But this could also have a negative impact. Candidates who don’t make it to the finish line sometimes retain a bad image of the company and could well be venting out their frustration and agony on social media. And the worst beating could come through sites like Glassdoor. That, certainly, is a strategic disaster.

Most candidates who interviewed onsite usually place a high value on the merits of feedback. They would appreciate a candid response from the employer because it could help them identify the holes in their resume. Then they can work on those to improve their chances of landing the next job.

How does feedback help the prospective employer and the candidate?

  • It boosts the organizational image and makes the first impression count.
  • Ensures transparency and credibility of the recruitment process.
  • Factual, skill-based, appropriate review helps the candidate assess his strengths and weaknesses.
  • Feedback keeps the dialogue open. Today’s unsuccessful candidate might become tomorrow’s dream applicant.
  • Word-of-mouth positive publicity through the rejected candidate might attract suitable future applicants and help the business prosper.

Key takeaways for the candidate:

  • Don’t be afraid to make the first move. If you don’t hear back after an interview, be proactive and request feedback. This will help  you identify the gaps that need filling and help prepare you for your next search.
  • Understand the nature of the job position and its requirements, but don’t be dissuaded by a less than 100% match. Always be eager to pick up new skills along the way and keep yourself abreast of the latest developments in your field.
  • This can’t be overstated: Do your research. Go into the interview prepared and show you have a deep understanding of the company and the role.
  • Hone your skills; take a short course, perhaps online (e.g., Coursera, Udemy). Get some experience, which could be through a volunteer opportunity as well.
  • Talk to recruiters; build a portfolio; put yourself and your work out on the web; grow your network. Our platform has some volunteer Advisors who are professional recruiters. Sign up and connect with them.
  • Finally, don’t let emotions cloud your practical approach; stick to the goal, work toward achieving it.

Having said that, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback even if it doesn’t naturally come from recruiter. If you’re looking to turn things around in your favor, brush aside any negativity and try not to let the sour experience influence your future approach. Write a polite email request, may be within a day to two, and wait until the interviewer gets a chance to get back to you.

Be positive, an honest critique could be a powerful tool in advancing your career.