A message to ALL Recruiters, Internal & External, young and old, Gen-Y to Boomers, tall and small, hairy or bald, etc:
Be careful in how you let candidates know they are no longer under consideration. Consider for a moment the following email going out to a candidate that took an hour to build a profile on your employment site; a candidate that thinks very highly of your organization . . . and was quite excited when she received a"'Hot Opportunity Alert" through an 'agent' she set up on the career site:
"Following a competitive review of your background and qualifications, regrettably we are unable to offer you further consideration at this time."
One of my candidates forwarded this to me today and let me know how it made her feel - and no, it wasn't good. I had to explain that this was a 'canned response' and that nobody in HR actually wrote it (despite the signature line showing 'Human Resources, XYZ Company'). Given that she has an MBA and a 10-yr track record of consistent upward progression, distinguished professional accomplishments, is extremely well-suited for the role, took another 40 minutes to create a striking cover letter on said career site, the 'candidacy rejection' email was beyond impersonal. It was stark, distant, borderline condescending, and what some might term 'icey'.
Think about how "Following a competitive review of your background and qualifications" comes across . . . right before slamming the door shut. In my candidate's own words, "Did they even look at my resume?" Also consider the term "regrettably" - this is not a term top performers use in their vocabulary, whether it be spoken or written. There are other more emotionally intelligent ways to convey a similar point.
Look, I know what you're thinking - "Toughen up", right? Well, wrong. Remember the situation: This candidate took the time to set up a career site agent due to her respect and admiration of the organization. That's not the same thing as the active seeker chasing every opportunity possible. Much to the contrary, this is strategic targeting and personal career planning on her part. She 'has a job', is a top-performer, and isn't just going to jump ship without significant calculation, thought, and planning - that's what the great ones do. And let's not forget: Top performers associate with other top performers . . . and yes, word gets around in these tight circles.
So take a hard look at your rejection emails. It will take no more than 5 minutes if you simply put yourself in the candidate's shoes and imagine how you would feel if you were them. The moral of the story is this: Don't let the titled one-liner spell doom for your employment brand among the 10% of the talent market that drives 90% of most organization's successes.