Return To Sender, PLEASE!

An example of robo-rejection for a position I applied for nearly two weeks ago.

Computers have been a part of our lives for quite some time now, having evolved in both form and purpose. It is no surprise as a result that many have forgotten why the computer (be it Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, the Chinese Abacus, or Charles Forbin’s Colossus) was invented in the first place. Simply stated, computers in their earliest form were created to process calculations quickly and accurately, no matter how complex or voluminous.  Even in the age of the Internet, they are still doing this. The only difference now is that the calculations are a means to an end, be it this blog I’m posting to right now, the job application I just filled out online on a company’s career site, or the rejection Email I received (see image to the left). Yes, that’s right: a computer just told me I’m not a perfect fit for the position I applied for. Not a person.  A thing.

Look, I get the importance of computers in business, in society as a whole. I worked in the Information Technology field for 20 years. I actually coded automated programs that Emailed invoices, credit and demo memos, and another information to our customers. I know from my own experiences as a job seeker that computer programs help the HR department filter, sort, and process  thousands of resumes sent by many people like myself. In both examples stated, the computer is doing exactly what it is designed to do since it’s inception: process data quickly and accurately, no matter how much.

However, computer programs have no feelings, so they are ill-suited to tasks that require a human touch, such as sympathy, comfort, and in the case of the image, letting someone down gently.

Let’s go over the image of the rejection letter in detail. The first thing you notice is that there is no one I can contact to ask why my application was declined. “noreply” is not a person, after all. If it is anything like the Email programs I told you about earlier, it’s a placeholder that needs to be in a sender field in order for the post-office server to compose and send a SMTP-valid Email.

“noreply” is also bad at remembering names. My name is David Gay, not David Alan. Alan is my middle name.

It also says in the Email that my talents are valued. Really? No one to speak with regarding the outcome of my application, my name is wrong, and using a rejection letter layout that I know (from four years of looking for work) is used in other companies is supposed to make me feel like my talents are valued? It doesn’t. It makes me feel like I wasted my valuable time filling out a profile and applying for the job in question.

It also says I can sign up to receive automatic mail updates for new jobs. I’ve already received one such update — this rejection — and I’m not really enthusiastic about the idea of receiving anything else from “noreply”.

I also like the time sent. Many of these auto-rejection letters I have received (such as this one) seem to be batched to send at night at the top or halfway point of some hour. I used to schedule batch jobs as a computer operator so I recognize the pattern.

Companies that choose to use application solutions like these to handle job applications might think this is a good idea, since it saves them time in the evaluation process. What they do not get is how it treats job seekers as we go from start to finish in the job application process without having a single person to deal with. As a computer programming veteran, both professionally and personally, the irony of being rejected by a computer program is not lost on me.

Thanks for reading!



3 thoughts on “Return To Sender, PLEASE!

  1. Irony aside, that really is a nasty way to have your application rejected… Reminds me of when voices when you’re on hold tel you how important your call is. It’s true that high volumes of applications could lead this to be a time-effective solution for companies, but I agree it absolutely lacks the human touch. We don’t want you – noreply!

    1. Hi Eleanor. Good to hear from you. I suspect it’s the large number of unemployed and underemployed people seeking work that has made such software a necessity for business.

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