Stop Undermining Your Recruiting Strategy

Vickie Malis

In an effort to cut-down workloads, some HR professionals advise only screening candidates who follow-up after submitting an application. But is this recruiting strategy actually doing more harm than good?

Workforce magazine “covers the intersection of people management and business strategy,” whose “content helps HR professionals approach their jobs from a more strategic, big-picture, business-results perspective.” Among Human Resources trade publications, it is one of the most well-respected and widely-circulated.

In an article entitled “Busy Recruiters Call on Job-Seekers to Follow-Up,” Workforce claimed HR professionals feel so inundated with work that, rather than sift through job applications, they’d prefer to screen only candidates who follow-up with an email or a phone call.

From the article:

“‘Our survey shows that 100 percent of hiring managers think candidates should follow up after submitting application materials,” said Michael Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps. ‘Hiring managers who do not want candidates following up should note that in the job posting.’

If a job seeker does follow up on their résumé Steinitz believes that it shows ‘initiative and demonstrates to hiring managers that they are enthusiastic about the opportunity. It’s also a chance for job seekers to initiate a discussion with the hiring manager and highlight how they can contribute to the organization’s success.'”

On the surface, the recruiting strategy seems like a reasonable way to manage otherwise untenable workloads. Candidates who take the time to follow-up must be more interested in (and ostensibly qualified for) the job than those who don’t, right?

The problem, though, is there are no hard and fast rules for job-seekers. A quick Google search on “should you follow-up after submitting an application” brings a staggering amount of conflicting advice. Some experts claim that it shows initiative, while others advise that doing so may take a candidate out of the running entirely.

Look no further than this article—the number one Google search result—which compiled the opinions of various HR professionals on the subject of post-application follow-ups. Their answers were (predictably) wide-ranging, with one going so far as to say:

“As an HR manager, I really dislike when applicants call me to follow up on the status of their application. Well, the ‘status’ of application is that I will be doing the following up – with the applicants who are qualified.

Bottom line, HR managers are very busy. No one appreciates being constantly interrupted by unimportant phone calls to check on whether a resume was received or not.

Such strong anti-following-up sentiment may not be the norm, but it’s still pervasive enough to assume it may impact candidates’ decision to reach out to HR. Which then begs the questions: Are those who are following-up necessarily the best candidates for the job? Or by shifting the responsibility of vetting applicants, is HR undermining their attempts to find the most qualified fit?

To be clear, this is not to claim the HR department isn’t overworked and that seeking out ways to manage workloads isn’t valid. In fact, we published a series of articles on that very subject. But maybe cutting corners in recruiting is doing far more harm than good.

Maybe there’s a way to save time—and lighten workloads—without jeopardizing the effectiveness of HR at all.

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