The Application Process Favors the Employed

| hiring layoffs


I've been thinking a lot about application and hiring processes in the last few months. In general, it's ripe for efficiencies, so I wanted to share a few thoughts on how candidates, companies, and hiring platforms can make it suck less.

Please leave a comment on what you agree or disagree with, and good luck out there! Submit your application with your current company


Blind applications, sent into the ether, (usually) don't work. Your best bet is to find a connection to the company. Find a direct connection to someone who can refer you into the role because this will/might actually put your application in front of a human who will give it the time of day.

Too daunting? Try this instead: Write a killer cover letter and explain your connection to, or interest in, the company in a compelling way. It really shouldn't be long, but cut straight to the point about why you're the right person for them to interview because of your skills/interests in the company. The double benefit of this approach is that it will create focus in your application strategy, which will increase your odds of landing a great role.


I have a lot of opinions here, so I'll try to narrow them down to what's actionable, and most of it is about your employer brand. I should note, I'm not a “recruiter”, but I've created processes at three different startups, interviewed thousands of candidates, and hired hundreds of people.

Recruiting is a process, which has definable steps, and can be repeated in a non-biased way to add amazing people to your company. In every step, show how much you care about your existing employees by giving potential employees the best possible experience.

Here's a simple way to think about the application flow, and what communication should occur:

  1. Application: Send a warm, thoughtful, note of appreciation. Bonus points if you have the courage to send from an actual person vs no reply.
  2. Set an SLA to review all applications in 5 days. I recommend aiming for no more than 3 days on average. Otherwise, it's not a priority, so put the role on hold until you have the time to recruit.
  3. If a candidate is not moving forward, send a nice rejection email, and move on to the next candidate. Send it from a real person too, this will do a lot more than an empty promise of keeping their resume on file or encouraging them to keep an eye on the job board.
  4. If they're moving forward, setup time to talk with them.
  5. There are a lot more steps, but if you can accomplish 1-4, you'll get the rest right.

A bit more about rejecting candidates…..Let's face it, most applications lead to rejection, so communication here is the most frequent conversation that you'll have, and is the most crucial to building a great brand.

Hiring Platforms

A joy I've found in recruiting is having a platform that helps you do the right things quickly. This doesn't mean that they're all setup well and doesn't ensure a great candidate experience. They still need to be setup and optimized to work well.

I've found that a candidate's experience with a hiring platform is typically on a hiring site with a form, so the choices that are made here dictate most of the experience. Make sure you're only asking for information that is necessary to fill that role (name, email, resume, work authorization, website… what else).

This brings me to the title of this post: The application process favors the employed. Many hiring forms ask for current company, and many of today's applicants in the startup ecosystem have been laid off, so what's someone to do? Put their old company…write laid off… sabbatical? It's a small question, but why would it even matter where someone currently works? It probably doesn't, so I would say to remove the field.

A few other tips for hiring platforms:

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