HR Policies Regarding Replying to Resumes From Job Applicants

Most applicants appreciate hearing that their resumes have been received.
Most applicants appreciate hearing that their resumes have been received. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

A company’s human resources department fields resumes, cover letters and other application materials from job applicants. Because jobs posted online can yield hundreds or thousands of responses, it’s easy for HR to become overwhelmed when determining a strategy for replying to resumes from job applicants. HR policies address different scenarios for replying to applicants regarding resumes submitted.


There are different reasons for a business to implement policies regarding communication with job applicants. The first is efficiency. HR employees can receive thousands of resume submissions, so they don’t have time to develop a response strategy for each application. Another reason for instituting HR policies for job applicants is to formalize and standardize procedures. It could become a legal problem if job applicants are treated differently with regard to responses, because applicants might argue that they were discriminated against during the hiring process.


One type of HR policy regarding replies to resumes from job applicants includes acknowledgment of receipt. Your company can issue a form letter stating that the resume, cover letter and other materials were received. It can also include a time line for resume review; for example, “We plan to invite selected candidates for interviews by May 24.” Such policies help to prevent candidates from individually calling or writing to inquire whether resumes were received, freeing HR employee time for other tasks.


Another HR policy might address replying to job applicants whose resumes resulted in their being disqualified from proceeding further into the hiring process. Form letters can thank applicants for submitting their resumes but state that more qualified candidates were selected to enter interviewing processes. Candidates might be disappointed by the news, but they appreciate hearing that their application was reviewed.


Some resumes result in job applicants being invited for interviews. Your company policy might precede written confirmation of an interview invitation with a telephone call, especially if interviews are to take place shortly. This gives candidates time to prepare and clear their schedules. It also allows your company enough time to select additional candidates for the interview pool if applicants have since found another job or are no longer interested in the available position.


It’s not necessary to reply to resumes from job applicants via traditional mail; this is time-consuming and costly. HR policies can dictate that job applicants receive form emails acknowledging receipt of their resumes, confirming that they’ve been passed over for other candidates or inviting applicants to a job interview. However, recipients’ email providers might screen your correspondence as junk mail if they haven’t added your contact information to their address books.


Some businesses institute HR policies for replying to resumes from job applicants that direct prospective employees to a website so that they can view their resumes’ status independently without checking in with HR representatives. This policy provides up-to-date information for candidates without impinging excessively on personnel time.

No Response

Some HR policies dictate a “no response” policy to job applicants, except for those who will be invited for interviews. This isn’t uncommon, although critics describe this policy as ungracious. Most applicants appreciate having their resume acknowledged in some way.

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