Response Times

Continuing on from the last post about jobs and stuff, it reminded me about something that has affected me quite a bit while searching and applying for jobs.

How long do you expect to wait for a response to a job application?

Within a day? Week? Month? Ever?

How long should you wait for a response to a job application?

I have sent many many applications out over the past few years, some to "big" companies, some to small independent businesses. Who do you think is more likely to respond promptly? If you said the small independent businesses, you'd be in the right ball park.

It is an unfortunate side-effect of the jobs market that when one sends an application, either as a speculative inquiry or in answer to an advert, that one expects no answer.

Well, personally, I think this is extremely unprofessional, bordering on rude of the prospective employers.

You may send out, in one frenzy of applying, ten applications. In the current way of things, I'd expect perhaps two responses back.

It is drilled into us that we must respond to a correspondence (e-mail/snail mail/phone/etc.) as soon as possible. Preferably within 24 hours. Otherwise, we as potential employees could be seen as unreliable, someone who can't complete things on time, or any number of things if we do not.

So how is it acceptable that those potential employers do the very thing we are told not to do?

The job search can be a very disheartening, lengthy, bleak process, with rejections coming from left, right and centre. Tens, if not hundreds of applications can be sent out in search of that elusive job before you finally land it. The search can last months. If you are only getting a 20% response rate, how much more disheartening and discouraging is that? How do you even know it has reached the correct person/department?

You could spend hours filling in just one application, updating your CV, writing the perfect cover letter, answering the ridiculous questions like "Give an example of working in a team while bananas are thrown at you by a monkey." You send it off, feeling like this one is a surefire one for at least an interview. Three months later, you've still heard nothing and you feel like you wasted your time. If you ask me, that's unacceptable.

I've also seen examples of responses coming months after the original application was sent out, months after I'd completely forgotten about having even applied. I'll randomly get this email, with a rote message saying I was not right for the position that I applied for. Not description of said position, no nothing to remind me of it. Just a rejection. Well, at least I know, I suppose.

I strongly believe that companies and businesses should be made to reply to any and all job applications with some sort of response. As in it should be a legal requirement. In the case of email and on-line applications, an automated response along the lines of:
Thank you for your application. Unfortunately, there are no openings on offer at this time. It has been seen by the HR department and will be filed away in case there are any future job openings.
Thank you for your application. We shall be in touch within 4 - 6 weeks with an answer.
While an automated response is not ideal, it is a response all the same. You can be sure that the application has been sent to right place, seen by the right person. And even receiving a 'No' is better than hearing nothing at all. At least you know one way or the other.

I also think that there should be a set time within which a company will get back to you about your application, be that a yes or a no. I've been told by companies and businesses that if the answer is a 'no', I won't receive any confirmation of that 'no'. But how long should I wait before I give it up as a bad job (no pun intended)? After I've sent the application, and received the (automated) confirmation that they have received it, I should expect to wait no more than six weeks for an answer.

I am actually tempted to maybe write or contact my MP, I feel so strongly about it. I think it would reduce the stress involved in applying for jobs, if only slightly. It is something relatively easy to implement and I can't see why it shouldn't be done.

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