The Gift of No

On July 2, 2012, in Editorial Advisory Board, Heather Bussing, HRExaminer, by Heather Bussing

The Gift of No - by Heather Bussing - HRExaminer

No sets you free.

by Heather Bussing


When you apply for a job, especially when you really, really, need a job, you’re scared and vulnerable. You are opening yourself to judgment about whether you’re good enough. You might be rejected.

There’s also this glimmer of hope. You start to imagine being there, the excitement of starting something new. You dream of money and security. Maybe you can pay down the credit card. Or buy meat again.

It’s like the moment right after you get a lottery ticket when you fantasize what your life will be like if you win. Often, the odds are about the same.

You fill out the fields in the online application and upload your resume. You try to say  why you would be great for the job, searching for words to show you are special. You don’t want to look desperate. But you are.

Even if you have a job, applying for a new one with strangers is disconcerting. It feels like you’re walking naked into a party where everyone knows each other, but no one knows you.

The reality is that you can be naked with a hot pink boa, but the ATS won’t really notice what you’re wearing, or even whether you seem nice. The chance of anyone even looking at your information is low.

It’s more like pouring a glass of water into a lake.

But you have no way of knowing that because pretty soon you get a friendly email thanking you for your interest in the company and telling you how glad they are that you applied. They say they will consider you. And even if you’re not right for the position you applied for, they’ll keep your information on file. They might even contact you if another position opens that would be good for you. Wow, you think. This could work out.

They give you hope.

Most of the time though, there is no hope. Only a few people of hundreds or thousands get a call or an interview. Everyone but the person who gets the position is rejected. It’s a process of No.

There are many smart and compassionate people working on how to make this reality better, kinder, more respectful. They call it Candidate Experience. They are looking hard at what it’s like from the moment the job is written, how it is described, where you find it and what that’s like. They are looking at the application process and how companies respond.

They are trying to make a kinder, gentler No.

I don’t think people want a kinder, gentler no. They want a yes. If they can’t have that, they want to be able to easily find out where they are in the process. And if they can’t have that, they would rather have a quick no.

No sucks. No dashes your fantasies. But No also lets you move on. No is what gets you to the company that says Yes.

No sets you free.

If companies really want to improve candidate experience, they will end the stress and angst of false hope. They will give the gift of No. But you could also give someone a DJI drone. Everyone loves flying drones!

Thank you to DICE and Sarah White for putting together a panel on the Candidate Experience Awards in the DICE Blogger’s Lounge at SHRM12 in Atlanta. Thank you Gerry Crispin and John Sumser for taking the time during their hectic conference schedules to talk to me about this issue and to begin my education in how ATS’s and hiring processes that use them work.

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