The C Rule: Warming Up Your Job Application Process with Email

Not a week goes by that I don’t hear someone complaining  about their displeasure with an application process. Common complaints revolve around submitting a resume to a “black hole”. They never receive a response. They spent an hour on the complicated online tool for submitting an application only to receive an immediate message : DECLINE.

I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to say that a fairly large number of talented people hate looking for a job in the first place. When they feel mistreated just applying to your position, it is like salt in a wound. This can translate in to negative comments about your company and even you personally. Escalate that by the fact that they are probably sharing it on Facebook or Twitter with hundreds if not thousands of people to be recorded forever, and you have a recipe for disaster.

If you want to warm up the reception of your process to new applicants, I highly recommend you examine the C Rule. Okay, full disclosure, I made up the term “C Rule” to make my title look more interesting. I’m really not a big fan of workplace jargon, but hey, it got your attention didn’t it?

c-communication-quilled1What is the C Rule? The C Rule as I define it states:  When there is a problem that needs fixed, you should probably start with the letter “C” because “C is for Communication! ” The primary tenant of the C Rule is that every process goes better when there is good communication.So, if the C rule applies, and trust me, it does, when a process is broken or someone is unhappy, start with looking at your communication.

Whether you have 10 resumes coming in, or 10,000, the first step to making a warmer applicant experience is communicating to the applicant what is going on! Applicants aren’t asking you to be their best friend, they just want to have an idea of what to expect.

The easiest way to accomplish better communication to applicants, with minimal effort on your part, is email. If you are getting 10 applicants, a quick template on Outlook will make this easy. If you lean closer to the 10,000 mark I am going to assume you have some technology in place to help you manage the masses. I am also going to assume this technology can probably send mass or automatically generated emails.

“Communication, good communication, means getting your point across to the recipient without being offensive.”

So how do you do this in a COLD email?  First, let me clarify that written communication does not have to be cold. Think I’m wrong? Ask anyone under the age of 30 or over the age of  60. The under 30 crowd will admit they avoid telephone communication all together. The over 60 crowd will most certainly have a letter pressed between the pages of a book they can pull out to show you.

 Warm up Written Communication with These Four Tips:

1. Show some appreciation. Let the applicant know you appreciate their interest in the position they have applied for. This seems so obvious, but you would be surprised how many recruiters forget this act of common courtesy. ” Thank you for your interest in our organization, we are pleased you have considered us in your career search.”

2. Explain what the applicant should NOT expect. Will you call all applicants? I’m going to guess the answer to that is “no”. Make them aware of this in the email. Be nice, but let the applicant you simply can’t call every person who applies.  “Due to the large volume of applicants that have shown interest in this position, we are unable to speak personally with each one…”

3. Explain what the applicant CAN expect. So if you might not call them, how will they know if they are being considered? This is going to depend on your process. If you know that all candidates being considered will be contacted within “X” number of days, TELL THEM ! If you don’t, which often is the case, you might say something like: ” While we are reviewing your resume, we suggest you learn more about our company by visiting our career page… candidate tips…website…” then continue with “only those candidates moving forward to an interview will be contacted by phone.”

4. End the applicant’s experience with you and your company on a good note. This step is more commonly known as the “regret letter”. Applicants know you can’t hire every candidate, but it will go a long way towards their opinion of your firm or company if you take the time to send out a simple message communicating to the individual that, while you can’t offer them this opportunity, you hope they find another. Consider at least one phrase that says something like: “We wish you success in your search for employment…”

There will always be the applicant that expected more than you can give, but using these communication tips for your messaging will go a long way with most. What challenges do you face in regards to a balance between efficiency and applicant satisfaction?



Amy McDonald
Amy McDonald
AMY brings over 25 years of business management experience to our group. Focused primarily in human resources and recruitment, she has worked in both for-profit and non-profit business sectors. In addition to corporate human resources and recruiting, her roles have incorporated organizational development, marketing, and government contracting. Amy currently holds the position of President and CEO for a web-based job distribution site. McDonald also authors the site’s weeklAmyy blog, “The REKRUTR Vault” which provides practical tips and advice for recruiters and career seekers. During her career, Amy has led teams in the Executive Search Industry as VP of Recruitment Services, and Later VP of Government Solutions with Indianapolis based DSS Consulting, Inc. and prior to that, as a Project Manager and Sourcing Manager with PrincetonOne’s RPO division. During this time she also served on the customer advisory board for Applicant Tracking System provider iRecruiter by ICIMS. She contributes her success in these roles to her previous experience in corporate human resources while a Regional Recruiter/Trainer with AWS, a non-profit, human service agency serving individuals with disabilities nation-wide. Outside of the office, Amy was actively involved in the Indianapolis Junior Chamber of Commerce early in her career, serving as their Vice President of Community Services and later a trustee on their Foundation Board. Today she stays involved, furthering philanthropic enterprises as a member the Beta Kappa chapter of Psi Iota Xi. She is a strong advocate for individuals with Autism and other special needs.

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