cv black hole

The CV black hole. A hiring manager says “give me a break!”

One of the consistent comments and causes of distress and frustration for all job seekers, is falling into the candidate  CV black hole of no communication. This might be with executive search and recruitment consultants or corporate hiring managers.

Automated responses generated by an impersonal CRM system come a close second for most, but in some cases despite their impersonality they can play a role.

Exclusion clauses

Paul told me how it’s becoming increasingly common for job postings to include exclusion text.  ” Only short listed candidates will be contacted ” or “If you have not heard from us within 4 weeks of submitting your CV, please assume that your application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

He had applied for a number of  positions, one being at a well-known consumer goods company which was his preferred opportunity. When he failed to hear after 4 weeks and attempts to contact the hiring manager were unsuccessful, he assumed he was not a viable candidate and accepted another offer. Two weeks later he was called for interview. That job match might have been made in heaven but neither party will now know. Paul is left with a rather poor impression of a company he had previously held in high regard. An automated holding response could quite easily have been set up to cover this contingency.


I asked one Talent Manager in a major industrial organisation, Rebeka, how this situation could arise. She explained with some frustration the nature of her working day which show cases the way her company and most others operate. HR staff cuts were made in 2009 and outsourcing to executive search companies has been reduced to only the most senior positions.

Why the CV black hole exists

Their system, which would be relatively commonplace, runs along these lines:

  • Candidates upload their CV online line or send them in via email.
  • The recruitment manager responsible for the opening receives that mail or a notification from the ATS  (Applicant Tracking System) system. This will be one of 100′s of similar mails received each day.
  • If the application is viewed by a person it is then filed in an assignment folder, usually on an in-house data base. Many resumes will not even get reviewed due to the volume and are cut by ATS software, the recruiters software gatekeeper. Applications with no specific reference will be shunted into another type of non- specific folder, a sub black hole if you will.
  • Only candidates moving forward are contacted.

Not enough hours in a day!

In terms of time management, hiring managers have multiple open positions. If they receive only 10 applications per day and have 5 open positions (a very conservative estimate) even during a hiring freeze her week typically looks something like this:

  • 250 CVs received  per week
  • 2 minutes taken per CV (including retrieval, reading CV,  only about 10 seconds, then possibly some online research, perhaps forwarding to hiring manager  =  500  minutes =  more than 1 day per week reading CVs.
  • If 20% of candidates are telephone screened per week that probably accounts for another 17.3 hours = 2 days per week
  • Face to face interviewing and testing, including travel arrangements, coordinating interviewers and venue confirmation – minimum 1-2 days per week.
  •  The rest of the time is taken up with status updates and funnel stats for the management committee, reviewing incoming assignments from line managers plus any unsolicited calls which make it past the company or departmental gate keepers.

At a time of high unemployment, when even individuals in secure employment are looking for change after 3 years of stagnation, what we are seeing is that most open positions are heavily oversubscribed.

Perhaps exclusion alerts on job postings are better than nothing.

What do you think? 

If your organisation needs hiring support get in touch.

2 thoughts on “The CV black hole. A hiring manager says “give me a break!”

  1. Mike Jansen

    If the ATS (or a person) has rejected the CV, provide reasons (with a caveat that says they can’t be challenged) and email them back to the applicant.

    The “if you haven’t heard from us in x weeks line” is IMHO, blatantly unprofessional and probably indicative of the prevailing culture and ways of working within the organisation – they don’t really care about you as an Applicant, and that’s likely to be golden thread in how they treat you when you are aboard.

    1. Dorothy Dalton Post author

      Hi Mike – thanks for your comment. I’m inclined to agree, especially today when ATS can be scheduled to send a thanks but no thanks message. For me it’s just laziness.


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