Do Companies Have to Notify Job Applicants?

Why Your Application May Disappear Into a Black Hole

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When job applicants don't hear back from an employer, it can be upsetting. Companies often don't notify applicants when they are rejected for a job, and, in fact, you might even interview with the company and never hear back. It can seem like your application disappeared into a job search black hole.

Legal Requirements for Notifying Job Applicants

In most cases, employers are not legally required to notify applicants that they have not been accepted for a job.

However, most human resource experts agree that best practices indicate that the ethical protocol for employers is to notify all applicants of their status.

Failure to do so might discourage applicants from considering the employer for other, more suitable vacancies and might also create a negative impression of the organization with the applicant's associates. In many industries, applicants are also customers or potential customers and most employers want to avoid alienating their patrons.

Here's information on how companies notify applicants.

Reasons Why A Company Doesn't Notify Applicants

Usnews.com interviewed company leaders and hiring managers to find out the reasons they avoid sending rejection letters. Here's why:

  1. Volume: Companies receive an average of 250 resumes per position. It's tough enough to deal with the bulk of those emails, let alone respond to each person individually with a rejection.
  1. Fear of a lawsuit. A rejection letter could potentially bring on legal action, depending on how it's written. Better to send no letter at all than risk a potential lawsuit.
  2. Unwanted Communication: A rejection letter coming from a specific employee with their name and email can spark unwanted ongoing communication from the applicant, asking if he might apply again or for another position, or where his interview went wrong. Multiply that by 250 rejections, and it's a hassle HR managers want to avoid.

    Federal Government Notification Requirements

    In 2009, the federal government established requirements for agencies to notify candidates of their status during the screening process as part of it's "end-to end hiring initiative."

    Notification must take place at least four times during the process - upon receipt of the application, when the application is evaluated against the requirements for the job, when a decision is made about whether to refer the candidate to the selecting official, and when the final employment decision is made.

    Background Screening and Employment Tests

    Employers who reject applicants based on background screening and employment tests must notify applicants if they have been rejected based on any information secured through that process.

    The Fair Credit Reporting Act stipulates that candidates have the right to dispute any damaging information contained in their report. Kmart reached a settlement in a class action suit on 1/31/13 to resolve claims that it failed to notify and give applicants ample opportunity to respond to negative background checks.

    How to Follow Up

    In can be hard to follow up when you have applied for a job. Many employers don't list contact information, email addresses or phone numbers.

    You can try to find a contact at the company or you can wait. It's easier to follow up directly after an interview, and it's always a good idea to do so. Here's ​information and advice on how to follow up on a job.

    Related Articles: How to Get Your Resume Noticed by EmployersHow to Find Contacts at a Company | Follow Up On An Online Application