Have you ever applied for a job you thought you were perfect for, and then heard nothing? Have you ever gone on a job interview, thought you nailed it, and got total radio silence? The answer to both of those questions is probably yes. You're left wondering what you did wrong and what you could do better next time, but no one will tell you. In fact, even if you ask directly for feedback, you probably won't get any.
But to prove that no good deed goes unpunished, non-compete, trade- secrets, and unfair-competition attorney Jonathan Pollard went out of his way to give feedback to an applicant and got a terrible Glassdoor review in response. The candidate wrote:
Jonathan Pollard is one of the rudest and unprofessional hiring managers I have ever encountered in my job seeking experience. After applying for the job, he sent me a one-paragraph critique of my writing samples, instead of simply telling me that my experience is not the right fit for his firm.
What this candidate didn't realize is that Mr. Pollard did her a huge favor. He could have done what she wanted, which is just hit Delete on her resume with a generic rejection letter. But instead of doing what she wanted, he did what she needed.
Pollard detailed his experience in a LinkedIn Pulse article in which he described what happened after he rejected her:
Then I wrote this person back. And the first words out of my mouth were: "Thank you for your application. Congratulations on finishing school. I appreciate your enthusiasm and professionalism, but based on the writing samples you provided, I do not believe you are a polished enough writer to work in my organization." I then gave her some general guidance on her writing; some overarching problems I see; some basic things she needs to change. And I did -- indeed -- tell her that my English and history professors at Cornell would have ripped her writing to shreds. And done exactly what I had done in the sample I edited.
I did not have to write this young person back. I could have just ignored her and thrown her application in the trash. But I wrote her back to give her some specific guidance on how to be a better writer. I was trying to help her! And as a result, I apparently infringed on her safe space.
Now, if she'd taken his advice, her writing would be much better for the next job that required a writing sample. Instead, she pitched a fit. (Although, in all fairness, we don't know if she sat down after she wrote her scathing review of him on Glassdoor and edited her writing samples as per his instructions.)
Wouldn't it be great if you got solid feedback after failed job applications? If you knew why you were rejected and what you could do to make yourself a stronger applicant? If you're a hiring manager, think about the polished candidates you'd start seeing -- polished because your competitors had helped these people along the way.
Of course, you won't see this on a large scale for several reasons. One is simply time. Giving this type of feedback is time-consuming, and in a world where recruiters don't even bother to get back to you after you've interviewed, it's absurd to think this would be a regular thing.
The other reason you won't see this happening is fear of lawsuits. Yep. If you just silently reject a candidate, the candidate won't know why and will just assume there was someone more qualified. But once you tell the candidate why you rejected her, if you end up hiring someone with a similar deficit -- and that person happens to be a different race, gender, or whatever -- you could face a lawsuit.
Of course, some feedback is ridiculous, as in the case of this recruiter who rejects people based on how scuffed their shoes are. But if you got that kind of feedback ("We decided not to move forward with you because your shoes were not polished to our liking"), then you could breathe a sigh of relief because you just dodged a bullet.
While I would love to see a world of feedback in job applications, it's not going to happen, but I can certainly dream.