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In my job search, I've been surprised by how often you submit a resume online, and then you don't even get a rejection email. It's a true "black hole" in that you never hear back, not even with a "no thanks". I think it's disrespectful of candidates to ask them to spend time filling out an application, and then leave them hanging because you're (presumably) too lazy to read it.



Insider perspective here: At a past employer, a Fortune 100 public company, the best roles were already slotted by senior execs for liked insiders and/or friends&family in the community. The job posting was just a formality, the end result was known well in advance of any job posting. Submissions to these job postings just languished because there was no one pressuring HR to sift through them, and it was well known inside that those positions were already filled.

From the outside, you just don't know. Very unfortunate because it creates hope for people who, in some cases, don't have any chance.


That's asinine. Because of some internal policy, you guarantee to waste people's time. It's already an asymmetric process, but behaviour like this makes it even more lopsided and plain wasteful.


You've hit the nail on the head. I appreciate the situation with companies. The "black hole" exists because they can't possibly deal humanly with every inquiry. To me, the question is: Why is the situation so asymmetric? Why is job hunting such a "seller's market?" Why do companies get hundreds, or thousands, of applications for one open position? It's like everyone who does similar work is continually submitting their application every time a position opens up within driving distance. If unemployment figures are as low as the government says, what's driving the deluge of applications? Is it simply "grass is greener" mentality?


Just to be pedantic, I would call it a "buyer's market" where the commodity is labor.

I think that the reason it is so asymmetric is because the normal company runs on multiple employees, which means that if they can't find one more person right now business still continues.

But the normal person only has time for one job, which means if they can't find one, they go hungry (so to speak).

The desire for employment is asymmetric and therefore the power accrues to the party with less desire.


>Why is the situation so asymmetric? Why is job hunting such a "seller's market?

Well the company can only accept 1 person for the position, whereas you are most likely willing to accept a position at a number of different companies, so there's an inherent asymmetry there, no?


You send out 100 applications to get a job, the company gets 100 applications per job. Where is the asymmetry?


It can become asymmetric based on how onerous the application process. Some tech companies have candidates do online exams, some even projects. The exam/project can take a day to complete. The company can just ignore the results for all but a handful of candidates...that is pretty asymmetric.

Ideally, the company should only push onerous application processes to applications once the list has been whittled down a bit, or only push them in cases where the results will actually be reviewed.


It's not just internal policy. There are various laws requiring public posting of positions in various circumstances.

Of course then not actually looking at the applications is a violation of at least the spirit of the law. Sometimes also the letter.


Or state policy lol. Or internal interpretation of state policy. lolwyers.


Not even that but I'm convinced some companies, like Twitter, have an automated rejection system. I remember submitted my resume online at like 3am PST and getting a response within minutes rejecting me saying I wasn't a good fit for the job (I met all qualifications). So, suspecting it was automated I waited a few days, completely changed up my resume and resubmitted it and it was rejected in less than a minute saying I wasn't the right fit for the job.

Resume submission systems are never good. Always always opt to send directly to a real email address (like in the who's hiring HN threads).


I applied once at an Indian/US firm from HN thread. You won't believe how unprofessional they were. I never got a single reply back until I emailed them, and I had a coding exam where I created an app, they said they'll reply in a week, after a month they said "sorry blah blah", that too, after two emails of mine aaking " you said a week, what is the status?".

Rather than going through this ordeal I'd prefer if they reject resume directly.


That's horrifying and worth posting on Glassdoor.


Yes, I was thinking of doing the same few days later. It wasn't surprising, their behavior, considering the feedabck on glassdoor.


Would they have criteria for specific schools or companies you were at? ...or is it years of experience or something?


I'm not sure. I've mentioned it a couple of times on HN to see if anyone from Twitter could confirm or deny my suspicious. It's possible someone just rejected it themselves but I'd really like to know.


It might be that the vacancies are just there to create the illusion of growth. Because if you're hiring then you're clearly growing. I recently interviewed with a company that straight-up told me that they don't have any positions right now but might in the future. That same position I was interviewed for got re-advertised a couple of months after my interview.

Come to think of it, I know of several examples(startups) where the company was actually failing and about to run out of money and they still advertised but couldn't possibly hire. In my opinion, that's purposefully wasting people's time.


I know examples from quite traditional companys, no-startups.

ANd yes, it is a huge waste of time.


I had one recruiter asking me for the exact dates of my past contracts, four times. It took a great deal of patience to repeatedly explain that they are already in the CV, just next to the company name and job title. In the end, I had to screenshot and red-circle the areas. That was the aha moment.

I'm not sure if this is laziness or what. But it does tell me that they don't care very much.


I'd have to really want a job or really need a job to put up with that sort of behavior. For all other situations I have close to a zero tolerance policy.


...Here's what the rest of us put up with that aren't in SW engineering/development/IT.

Step 1. Put in 300+ applications (200+ in Nor Cal Central Valley area, 178 in PHX area)

Step 2. Wait for responses and get a 2% response rate in Nor Cal/central valley, and a 17% response rate in PHX...with the exact same resume despite being top 25% of the class, extra curriculars, and having a decent econ degree)

Step 3. Of 90% of the places and recruiters that contact they will either A. Pay you substandard wages, B. Make it clear that you are replaceable and they don't actually care about workers or work/life balance, C. Ghost you after contacting and interviewing you or D. Some combo of the above.

The worst one I've had is the same corporate recruiter lie to me multiple times over a part time job with no benefits, who brought me in for an interview that made it clear that they had no quality control, no work life balance, poor workplace communication, and expected workers to be treated like crap and be OK with it, oh and the best part is, that company was a major household brand that does $5bn in revenue annually.

So yeah, I've had recruiters treat me like crap, tell me I'm worthless, and companies string me along, while I'm trying to scrape by and eat...not that I've got a chip on my shoulder about the entitled attitudes that are represented by this comment on HN.


If you're filing 300+ applications that would imply that you need a new job and not just want and/or are entertaining a new job, no?


I so you are very lucky. 99% of people have to put up with things like this without saying a thing.


Do you? I noted that if I really wanted or needed the job that I'd put up with it. Wouldn't that apply to everyone?

Suppose you're happy where you are now but an opportunity comes by which sounds good so you start talking to them. They're super flakey. Wouldn't you just say "screw it"?


For those type of scenarios I tell myself, "this is the HR department not the department I'm actually applying into." Keeps me from painting the good people who are competent with the same brush as the idiots from the department I'd actually have to deal with.


Well, good for you. The rest of us have to put up with it whether we like it or not.


Part of the reason is that rejected candidates tend to ask why they were rejected, which is a massive time sink. The logic goes that it's better to black hole than it is to be inundated with requests for reasons.


When recruiting, I chose to reject thousands of people.

For obvious rejections, I sent an auto generated email that looked like it could be from a human. If someone asked why they'd been rejected, I'd simply say the hiring manager chose to focus on more obvious matches for the position, and that was the end of it. Maybe 1 in 100 asked for feedback, but I didn't keep stats.

For a few candidates who were unlikely to be a fit, I'd reject them, and say why I didn't think it'd a match. Usually if I heard back, it was simply to say thank you for acknowledging them. For one position, I was recruiting a CTO. I rejected one Craigslist sourced applicant, and gave him reasons why he didn't fit the CEO's list of filtering bullet points. He responded with information that flipped him from a no to a yes, he got the interview, and eventually got the job!


I'm surprised that you posted a c-level position on Craigslist. I've always thought of cl jobs as entry to slightly above entry-level jobs. Did you get good candidates for the job from cl in general?


I was mostly focused on individual contributor roles for engineering and operations. I was filling the jobs so fast, there was a massive surplus of jobless talent sloshing around during the recession, that I was running out of stuff to positions to fill.

The CEO was kind of cheap, and didn't want to pay a retained search firm. I was working on a part time contract at an hourly rate, so he asked me to take a crack at the CTO position. I tried filling the CTO role like I filled every other role, by starting with an ad on Craigslist, and it worked out.


>For a few candidates who were unlikely to be a fit, I'd reject them, and say why I didn't think it'd a match.

I read that a lot of people don't do this because they are afraid of $RANDOM lawsuit.


So let's say you begin working with a hiring manager, and that manager says "I want a young, full stack developer who will work 70+ hours per week."

First, if you don't push back on "young", you're asking for trouble right from the start. You gotta say, "I can't screen based on age, that's going to get both of us in trouble." The second a not-too-bright recruiter says, "I can't hire you, you're too old", everyone loses. So don't get yourself into a position where you're screening for young in the first place. It's fair to ask the hiring manager why they want a young person, and it may simply be that the job isn't something anyone with real experience would tolerate. Then you can describe the job in such a way that it highlights the requirements for someone at that level... "We work hard, day and night, to ship stuff as fast as possible, fueled by Mountain Dew and dreams of glorious stock options."

Once you've craft a job pitch that only someone who wants to work day and night would apply to, if a more experienced person applies to the job, you can reject them by focusing on the culture... "Hey, I don't think you'd be a fit here. Your skills look great, we'd love to have you, but do you really wanna work 70 hours a week? We're an adrenaline fueled sweat shop, and you've been at a cushy B2B SaaS company for a few years. If I'm wrong, let me know!"


I always assume this is just an excuse - they don't give you a reason because there is no reason for them to give you a reason. If there was some benefit for them to giving you a reason they would not fear the lawsuits. Maybe some people from Europe can talk about whether companies give them reasons, I suspect even in Europe companies don't tell applicants why they didn't hire them.


If you're rejecting someone for because they'd never get the job, it's not worth explaining why. Reasons include the candidate wasting their time to impress you in a way they will never work, getting sucked into a sob story about how they really need a job, and the candidate starting an argument, etc.

Here's an extreme example. I rejected a candidate, and felt bad for him. I gave a specific reason why he'd never get the job. A few hours later, he showed up in the lobby of our office building, coked out of his mind (that's what it looked and felt like, but he was probably just intensely upset). He started demanding to see HR. Shit went from chill to super uncomfortable in 0 seconds flat. I walked up to him, suggested he leave, at which point he realized I'm twice his size, and he departed. Yikes!

I stopped giving invalid rejection explanations after that. It's just not worth it, and that's part of living in the world that sucks more than I'd like it to.


>I suspect even in Europe companies don't tell applicants why they didn't hire them.

They usually don't. The same reasons apply. In Europe there's less fear about random lawsuits, but there are so many rules about hiring that it's just a minefield with lots of material for very legitimate lawsuits. You didn't get the impression that the applicant is a good culture fit? You better hope his name didn't sound Turkish, or that quickly sounds like unlawful discrimination.


A clearly automatic rejection with some corporative language is not particularly nice or warm, but fulfills the role of notifying the rejection without any room for this time sinking demand.


Seriously. All it takes is a form letter, and then you know for certain.

Dear Applicant, We're sorry but we have decided not to go forward with your application at the present time. We will keep your CV on file for 6 months in case our needs change. Best of luck in your future endeavors.


No, it is a status and power play. People that apply are unworthy of a reply. You really want to be head hunted, or get a warm intro. I have personal experience being black holed when applying and hired when introduced, and know others for which the same has happened.


Yeah, god forbid corporations show some common courtsey lest it cost small amounts of money.


Unless your applicants become your prospects or customers. At that point, it's going to be incredibly hard to get over any negative sentiment. The hiring process is as much a communication and marketing process as anything else and needs to be treated as such.


I very much agree. A few years ago I was searching for a new job and there was this one place specifically that had an opening that sounded like a perfect fit for my skill set. They had an extremely long application process that involved "Pre-Employment Testing" (something called Criteria?). Anyway, I spent hours working on this application only to never hear back.

Funny enough, after landing an even better gig, I randomly got contacted by one of their recruiters on LinkedIn asking if I would be interested in the opportunity they were still hiring for. No mention of the fact that I had already applied and never heard back.


Samsung tried to hire me a couple times, but their side always went missing out of the blue.

One day I saw them complaining in a major magazine about not finding anyone, and I not only reapplied but wrote an almost angry email detailing past attempts.

They did their best this time, I talked to their team almost daily for almost 2 weeks setting all up... and then they complained I didn't had experience in that particular job title.

I explained that noone local had that experience, they were the first company in the country with that particular position open...

Then the HR guy apologized so much I felt sorry for him, and he explained it was company policy that the job required experience, and another policy required locals only...

So policy for the win?


Boy, Criteria looks...interesting. One of their first press releases: https://www.criteriacorp.com/company/news_item_3.php


Yeah, seriously, don't do that, unless you enjoy it. Almost certainly a waste of time.


I'm the total opposite. I absolutely hate rejection letters. They give me no upside feeling and they are all a downer. I'm applying to jobs because I sort of need one, not because I'm out to get social goodwill. This feeling of sinking "ugh" only worsens on days when I get 3 or more rejection letters.

If you do send a rejection letter, at least make sure it has proper grammar and spelling, and please send it within, idk, 6 months?

I have gotten some amazing rejection letters, but only after an interview. These are well-thought out, globally applicable to all rejections, and directly show why I wasn't a good fit. In sum, they were impossible to argue with. I've only received a handful of these, but they were worth keeping around for inspiration.


Where I work it is standard policy to send meaningful feedback after a face-to-face interview. We actively work to make this helpful.


I sympathize deeply with this sentiment.

However, let's switch modes.

Please suggest your solution for the problem of receiving 1,874 resumes for a job posting and, 42 days later, finding your likely candidate on the 244th candidate you reviewed.


Use an automated system to pick out keywords and phrases. Put first 25 in that stack aside. Send a rejection notice to everyone else. The issue is not finding a candidate, the issue is leaving everyone else hanging while you find that candidate.


What if my stack of 25 turn up only unqualifoed people who know to submit keyworded documents? Aren't we now un-rejecting people just like the linked article satirizes?

I feel like such an automated approach is roundly criticized by HN on a regular basis.

I guess my point is that when you're dealing with this, there are no popular solutions.

Un-networked job seekers need thick skin.


Once you find the 1-N candidates you were looking, you "close" the search, and the system sends an automatic reply to all the rest. Not very complicated.u


Agreed, thank you for clarifying that.


If the job is important simply task more people and resources to find a candidate. I feel like many companies hire "lazily" where they'll have one person peruse applicants over the course of weeks or months. This is completely disrespectful to candidates, many of whom are not in a position or circumstance to desire being unemployed for that long.

If the job is in fact unimportant, stop pretending like its the bloody presidency and accept candidates who can be trained into it immediately.


In my experience, it can be useful to include a request for (straightforward) additional information to be included with an application. I use a fizzbuzz style question that can be described in a couple sentences and solved by a competent programming in under 5 minutes. Anyone who doesn't include at least an attempt at an answer can be auto-screened. That usually cuts out the majority of applicants, since most are just shotgunning every available job.


Please suggest your solution...

This is completely unfair. GP is not an HR professional by any indication. If your accountant says your website looks ugly, do you hire them as your designer?


Lmfao dude, these days, if you want most people to take you seriously, you need to criticize AND suggest alternatives.

Anything else is just complaining.

I don't need to know the minutia of a specific field before I can criticize and suggest alternatives.

An accountant does not need to know node before offering comments on site usability, feel, performance. Nobody is hiring them to execute a redesign. They're asking them for an idea on how to improve.


So you have to be able to fix something before saying it sucks? You must be busy in the "Counterfeit items on Amazon" threads.


Hmm, no that's actually the opposite of what I was saying! The parent above me seems to have been saying that?


It's also unfair to criticize things as broken if no reasonable alternative exists. Should people get hate mail or get called "lazy" for failing to solve all of the world's problems?


Probably not. But, in practice, yes.


Don't post your job application to places that will get you 2k applications for a single position. Attach an automatedly tested small task to be submitted with any application.

When you get a successful candidate automatically inform everyone else still in the running that the position has been filled.

What's the hard part?


100%. The sooner you build a network and put yourself in a position to not have to apply to jobs the better.


How do you "build a network" at companies you have never worked before, and you have no contacts at? You start adding them to your linkedin and then spamming them with messages saying "please be my friend"? I am asking because I heard this recommendation (build a network) all the time, but it is really really difficult to do, more so if you consider the number of companies where one can apply...


You jest, but that method literally works. I'm trying to break into finance, from a programming, web-development kind of background (with CS degree), which is a pretty tough nut to crack.

I've had a great deal of success just reaching out to people on LinkedIn who've worked on cool stuff in areas I find interesting, message them to see if they're keen to meet for a coffee/beer/etc. Meetups are fun too. A good number of people are happy to just chat for 30min, and you might get a few pointers on where to look for what you want. The worst case outcome is that you meet someone new, and talk about things you find mutually interesting for a little while.


Yeah, "honey, this year don't count me in as I am going to be out all nights having drink with strangers so that i can build my network"... it reminds me of that day I dared to call a recruiter because his phone was listed on the job posting, he was like "wtf dude, why are you calling me?"


I sent dozens of applications to companies in my area while looking for summer employment, no success. Started going to meetups just to be able to talk to some programmers from time to time. About two months in, met someone at a meetup who said their team needed Python/C++ devs. I talked a little bit with them, got their card, sent them a resume later that week, and eventually got my first proper development job.

Only one person's story ofc, but I'm happy! Face to face stuff is so much more valuable than submitting online forms, and tech meetups are stimulating, fun, and pretty common in cities.


Nobody ever mentioned every night for a year. Can't you spare a single night every other week? You need to take the chip of your shoulder. It is hard work and takes sacrifice to move the needle, and that is true for most of us here.


maybe my target was wrong, but I wrote a nice/short introduction to about 200 recruiters on linkedin, only 3 replied... if recruiters, who should be looking out for candidates, reply so lowly, how many people do you have to contact? by the way, the 3 recruiters replied to me but they never again contacted me back...


My advice would be to never work with recruiters. Their goals aren't aligned with yours. Find the managers and directors at the companies you want to work for. Those are the people you want to talk with.


It won't allow you to "target" a specific company, but you could get involved in open source projects and technology meetups, these can help you make connections in a wide spread of companies.


You don't build a network at a company. You build a network in an area, perhaps more than one. You can be a complete idiot and still be well-known among local programmers (some of whom might not realize that you're dumb, and might hire you.) Imagine how far you might go if you're not dumb.


Honestly? Interview. A lot. I spent a couple of years interviewing in order to get better at interviewing (and always have my ear to the rail for better opportunities) and one of the side effects is that I met a lot of cool people doing interesting things. These people are absolutely a part of my network now, and I've referred at least one person to a job they got. It's a lot of work, but starting from zero, it is an excellent way to build a network, get good at interviewing, and most importantly, find a job you like that pays well.


Are there programming meetups where you live? If there aren't you need to move. If there are you need to go to every one. If you have something interesting to say you ought to volunteer to give a talk (I just gave one on Redux, despite the fact that I have a job.)

If you have nothing interesting to say you ought to find something- if you're unemployed you must have a lot of time on your hands.


You build a network by making friends where you are right now. In a few years they will leave your company / be out of college.

With luck, one of them will be in a company or organization you want to apply to.


This is true, but embedded within it contains a huge challenge for the industry. Hiring through people's networks and referrals has potential to really harm diversity.

Hiring is an expensive process by any measure. But whenever we find a shortcut we have to be mindful of unintended consequences


If you're filing the position with a high quality candidate, I'm not sure how diversity is relevant.


You might not be sure, but high quality candidates who aren't already in the heterogenous pool you are hiring from can probably come up with something.


I wonder how often the "We're Hiring" links on companies landing pages are there only to make the business look healthy and growing while in fact the company is not hiring.


Yes, and sometimes you can tell from a reference number that includes figures looking suspiciously like a year, that the "job offer" has been lying there for 3 or 4 years. You can see the dust layers on it.


Facebook "black holed" me after two phone interviews. Had to email them them a couple weeks later to see what was up. Never seen that before.

Edit: I guess "black holed" isn't the right term since I did get an interview but you know what I mean


I call it 'Ghosted'.

Basically, you are talking, you both like each other and then suddenly you don't hear from the other person.

I had a few companies ghost me and it was annoying.

I don't entirely mind if I apply and just never hear back, I just get to laugh at them when they email me two months later asking for interview.


I've heard this called the "California No," in both a personal and professional setting. Apparently it's extremely common in Hollywood and that's where the term came from. I've definitely noticed as I socialize in California that people avoid perceived confrontation more here, so maybe there's something to it. A new one I've noticed recently is what I call the "read receipt no," where someone will read a message, send a read receipt, then not reply to say no.

If someone does it to me I tend to lose some respect, but that's possibly because I'm an outsider. Maybe Californians expect that but I usually hope for the respect of a direct no. (Shrug.)


I've seen this as a strategy for H1B fraud, months after accepting applications everyone good is probably employed somewhere, so suddenly we've recently discovered there are no qualified local applicants for the job position H1B stamped approved.

If you want to make the HR person extremely angry then feign interest and you've ruined their whole H1B process. Its kinda funny to do. Sometimes they'll slam the phone down or sound like they're about to cry. If they're made of sterner stuff you'll get requirements like an in person interview at 4am or an interview within the hour in person (for a job 100 miles away).


Amazon does this all the time. I can't count on two hands the number of times I've seen them do this.


Lot of New York companies do this one.


Yep. That is where it was.


Insider Perspective: This can happen at big companies when they want a "lineup." They already know who they are going to hire, but for appearances, they will bring in 3 more people (usually two that are grossly under-qualified and one that is unaffordable). Then, after interviews, the pre-chosen candidate gets to shine as the ideal candidate. Inside recruiters are often masters at such setups, all created to have a paper trail of fairness in situations that are anything but fair.

It is terrible for the others in the lineup since they have 1. wasted a day 2. have hope for something where this is no hope 3. possibly hold off on other opportunities waiting for an opportunity that doesn't exist.


Especially with Taleo-based sites. It's either auto-rejection or black hole. Has Taleo been successful for anyone?


Taleo's particular talent is in interfering with applications to other companies that use Taleo. Suppose you use Taleo to submit to Oracle. Great! But when you use Taleo to submit to Cisco, you need to use a different address because email addresses for oracle.taleo.net and cisco.taleo.net are in the same namespace. There are a couple of online systems that make me reconsider applying, and Taleo definitely leads the pack.


Wait...you can only apply to one of their customers?


As near as I can tell, you can apply to only one with the same email address. The best dodge is to use use a gmail.com address with a plus-address. If your usual gmail account is rhizome@gmail.com, you can try rhizome+oracle@gmail.com and rhizome+cisco@gmail.com and both of these will land in your rhizome@gmail.com account, but I think there is still a problem when you reply to taleo.


You do need to reapply from a blank slate to each customer. Once I'm redirected to a Taleo site for applying, I immediately exit the job application and look elsewhere.


I've always wondered something: Does Taleo compare your resume across ALL of its sites? Like if you submit a resume for Company A, but you also sent one for Company B, and both use Taleo, does the software say "This applicant applied elsewhere and here's what they said that was different" ? I've never received a response from a Taleo system.


I have similar experience with Greenhouse's system.


I've used Greenhouse on the hiring end, and there's no 'extra' info about candidates. We only see what they submitted in their application.


One deserves a reply if one crafted a personalized cover letter, no matter how short. However the copy/paste guy shouldn't expect anything back.


I did an on-site almost two weeks ago and haven't heard anything :-/.


That is incredibly frustrating and unprofessional. You have GOT to get in touch with the recruiter/point of contact. Sometimes recruiters leave, or there is a bug in the system and you get dropped, whatever. Just try contacting them to know for sure what happened.


Contacting will probably not get him to know what happened. He will most likely get whatever standard bullshit excuse comes across the mind of his respondent at the time. Anyway, it might revive his application a bit or at least get him a final no.


I learned that it was was standard procedure to ping the company and ask about progress if you didn't hear back from them within a week. Is this no longer the case?

E.g. Hi X, Thanks for taking the time to interview me, blah blah blah, ... next steps?


I received an empty email once (an airline).




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