should managers give job candidates unsolicited feedback?

In response to an earlier post, commenter L P asked:

How do people feel about the idea of providing unsolicited feedback? I run HR at a small company and receive between 50 and 100 resumes a year. Some of these have been truly awful – including portrait photos, flower borders, no order to previous experience list, poor formatting etc. I would really like to tell these people their resumes are not getting them interviews, but not one has asked for feedback. So far I’ve refrained, but is there a way I can provide feedback to these candidates without it seeming totally inappropriate?

I wonder about this all the time.  In case this isn’t clear by now, I happen to have some opinions about how people should change their resumes and cover letters to make them more effective. And sometimes when I’m hiring and encounter particularly egregious offenders, I am dying to reach out and explain to them what they could do differently to get better results. I know that they’re probably feeling frustrated and dejected and wondering why no one ever calls them for an interview, and I want to tell them why so that they can fix it!

But I’ve only done it a couple of times, and only with very inexperienced, right-out-of-school candidates, because I figured they’d be less likely to be offended.  I just added a line into my standard rejection email that said something like, “I know it’s a tough job market out there, so I wanted to mention to you that you’ll probably get better results if you make sure not to include an objective that’s unrelated to the job you’re applying for. That’ll be an instant deal-breaker for a lot of employers. I hope that helps, and good luck!”  (That’s a real example. I didn’t get into the fact that he didn’t need to have an objective at all; I just wanted to correct the most flagrant problem.)

But I don’t normally do it at all because I’m pretty sure that while some people would be appreciative, it would rub others the wrong way. And even though everyone says they wish they could get more feedback from employers, in reality some people get very defensive.

Plus, maybe it’s just weird.

I’d love to hear what people think about this.

{ 91 comments… read them below }

  1. Perfectshinist*

    Once an HR person actually called me to give me suggestions on my resume. There weren’t any mistakes on it, but she mentioned that I may want to not include my MBA degree because I did not have much experience and she thought that this made me overqualified for lower-level jobs and underqualified for higher positions. I thought it was a very nice gesture and honestly I was kind of stunned that she would go to these lengths to help a complete stranger. It gave me a good feeling about the company so maybe that’s an added benefit for doing it.

  2. Anonymous*

    YES! Give the feedback! As a candidate I always really want to know why I didn’t get the job and what I could do better. I ask for feedback if I get a chance. I recently applied for my dream job. I got the rejection by voice mail. I really would have liked to know what I needed to improve, but felt like I would be annoying them by calling or emailing to ask for feedback. It would have been great to get feedback in the voice mail.

  3. Sandrine*

    I would actually LOVE to get such feedback. Of course, tone matters, but someone like the letter writer strikes me as the perfect person to send out such advice.

    If someone tells me I’m a nutjob for trying to apply with X conditions, I will me mad.

    If someone is not hiring me BUT is doing something nice to help me, then hell yeah I’ll appreciate AND even send a thank you e-mail.

    I have a feeling my latest applications were not that good for some reason (even though I did my best every time) and I wish someone told me whatever it is I am doing wrong. Because if I really AM doing something wrong, if no one tells me, I will not be able to improve, and then I will never get a job.

    In short, YES to constructive feedback, a thousand times.

  4. curious*

    I would always be really happy if a recruiter gave me feedback. At least I would know that they read my application and I would have some idea of how to be more successful next time.

  5. Martin*

    From a professional point of view as a person looking for a specialist job at the moment, I would prefer feedback.

    However, given the replies in the other thread, and the fact that some HR people don’t seem comfortable pointing out the errors in a resume, perhaps a middle way can be followed.

    Find, or create, a website that shows errors in resumes, and how these can be solved. Point a candidate to this site, and suggest them to read this. It is up to them then to do something with this advice.

    1. Henning Makholm*

      That would be worse than useless. Either give specific feedback or give none at all. Pointing to yet another list of generic advice is kind of condescending, like the candidate couldn’t find hundreds of those lists by himself using Google.

  6. Dianamh*

    How about a one liner on the rejection letter that says something like: “Feedback offered upon request.” Those who really want the feedback now know they can ask for it without offending.

    1. Dawn*

      I think this is a good idea. That way no one can say the interviewer is being pushy or offering unsolicited advice.

    2. Dan Ruiz*

      This is what I was thinking. Each individual can ask if they’re interested or move on if they’re not. Perfect!


    3. Samie*

      I’m agreeing with everyone else here. This sort of option would be awesome.
      Sometimes I’ve applied to jobs that I knew were a long shot, and I was relying on my cover letter to get me an interview and the interview to get me in. With those I usually know that my resume shows that I’m under qualified, and while if they were really nice about it, I wouldn’t be upset, neither would I really be overly gracious.

      I also have a few people that do hiring look over my resume, so I usually don’t have to worry about general errors. Usually just industry specific and making my cover letter sound good.

  7. Betty*

    Tough question! I know that as an recent long-term job seeker, I would have LOVED to get any kind of feedback, especially if there really was something seriously wrong with my applications. Sending those resumes and cover letters into the void and never hearing a word is beyond frustrating, and it would have been invaluable to me to hear back if something was turning employers off. I would also guess that there are a lot of people who just don’t know that you can ask for feedback; I wouldn’t have if not for reading this blog. Especially if they’re not even getting interviews, they might feel like it’s pushy or odd. So it would definitely be a nice thing to lots of people, but on the other hand, you’re opening yourself up to dealing with defensive people or people offended that you would critique them unasked. So my suggestion would be to maybe include a brief line just offering to give feedback if they’re interested; that way they’re much more likely to ask, and you can answer without offending.

    1. TheAssistant*

      Concur! I didn’t know it was possible to ask for feedback until I found AAM. I did, however, receive unsolicited feedback that was invaluable (and mortifying!). One internship recruiter in college noted that I was great, but they went with someone better, but I had a typo in my resume. I inadvertently wrote “Middle Easter Studies” instead of “Middle Eastern Studies.” Absolutely embarrassing, especially for someone who wrote cover letters about her attention to detail and worked at the Writing Center as the girl known as the detail hawk.

      Needless to say, I never made that mistake again, and learned a great deal about writing resumes at 3am (don’t).

  8. Beth*

    Timely subject. I spent a few minutes debating this yesterday when I received a cover letter that said:
    Dear ________________. I am very interested in the position of _____________________ that I saw advertised in ___________________.
    I really wanted to email back and suggest actually filing in the blanks before sending the email.

    1. Anonymous*


      See I would really have to be careful there as i would have to write back and say we don’t have a role _____ and we don’t advertise in ________. Would you like to try again?

  9. Anonymous*

    Will I appreciate an expert’s view on my resume? Do flowers have petals? Does day follow night ? etc etc

    In other words…
    I would LOVE to get feedback on my resume.

  10. JT*

    Interesting suggestion Dianamh.

    I don’t do hiring but do interview interns and got one CV that was quite atypical. Almost bizarre. But the person seems interesting and capable, so I talked with her, and she ended up joining us for several months. Once on board I gave her some suggestions that I thought would be a help in the future.

  11. Anonymous*

    If somebody had constructive criticism for me, I would prefer to hear it.

    That said, if it comes from a stranger with unknown qualifications, it might be a little odd. Even still, I think I’d rather hear it, and then I can decide for myself whether or not it resonates with my opinions.

    1. Lynda*

      YES! How do we know what biases the interviewer has? How do we know if his/her feedback would be useful in a situation with another interviewer? And what if the feedback is something you just can’t fix? You can fix a typo, a disorganized or clumsy resume, and what you wear to an interview. But how can you fix your personality? That’s what “good fit” sometimes comes down to, I suspect, and it’s not something a person can fix. Even if you could, I don’t think it would work to act completely different from your usual demeanor in an interview, since then no one knows whether you’ll fit into the company culture or not. If that’s the reason it wasn’t a good fit, the interviewer certainly isn’t going to tell you that – he/she is going to say something else. Therefore, not only don’t you know whether the feedback is valid or useful, you don’t even know if it’s the truth.

  12. fposte*

    In the last few years (most recently was about two years ago) we’ve gotten a few applications, unrelated to any job posting, that were faxed in clearly by a service. They’re a mess, and the service clearly provided the formatting for the poor suckers who paid it; on top of that, they faxed it in, and on top of that, they faxed it in when there was no posting. The applicants were clearly quite young and inexperienced, and I meant to contact them and warn them that they were being taken for a ride by these services, but I unfortunately never got around to it.

    1. Natalie*

      I had a similar urge when I discovered that the tech school we frequently hire from is giving people terrible resume coaching.

  13. Marisol*

    I love the idea of offering feedback if you have the time and capacity to do it, even if just for one or two people. I think most people would appreciate receiving the substance of the feedback (I know I would!), but it’s also a rare acknowledgement that a human being took the time to read and consider a cover letter and resume – something an earnest candidate is sure to appreciate even though they weren’t offered an interview or job. My advice would be to not feel obligated to give this feedback to everyone, but to choose the candidates that either seemed truly interested, but for whatever reason were not a right fit or those you would have felt more comfortable advancing through the hiring process if it weren’t for some fixable errors (of course, they may fix them and re-apply, so be prepared if that wasn’t the only issue!).

    1. Diana*

      I agree that it would be risky unsolicited. That’s why I suggested putting in the rejection letter that you’re open to giving feedback. You could still get angry and defensive people who ask for it, but you’d also get people who genuinely appreciate the help, and probably lots who are in between the two. Weigh the good vs. bad and decide if you no longer want to offer to give feedback.

    2. Rachel*

      I think it’s really sad that people get angry and defensive. Maybe the most helpful advise to these people would be to change their attitude because no one wants to work with someone who can’t handle constructive criticism. That’s part of life, and especially part of the workforce. Are they going to get angry when their boss tells them to do things differently too? If they can’t handle a few suggestions on improvement of a resume, then any HR person should be VERY happy they didn’t consider hiring that person.

    3. Samie*

      I do know someone who would have gotten upset with feedback.

      Then again, he thought he was God’s Gift to Women and the best writer EVAH!

      Needless to say, his opinion of himself was much higher than the truth and any dent to his ego was their fault because they were ugly/stupid/etc.

  14. Joey*

    I dont have that much time on my hands so although I’ve thought about it I’ve never seriously considered doing it. Besides how far do you go. Just correcting the blatant errors probably won’t mean the difference in getting a job. You’d likely have to spend a significant amount of time and effort per applicant to actually provide help that makes a difference. And along the way you’ll offend some.

  15. Anonymous*

    I think most people think they want feedback, but would probably be defensive and embarrassed if they got it, especially unsolicited. I work with students on resumes at a university, and they often don’t take the advice they sought out.

    1. cheryl*

      TOTALLY agree with this. I think people *think* (and say) they’d want the feedback, but if they really got it unsolicited would be defensive and have plenty of reasons why the manager offering it is all wrong. I do like the idea of “feedback offered upon request.”

  16. Anonymous*

    Honestly, this is why 6 years ago I had my resume professionally done, when the prices were not $500 per page.
    I have had recruiters point small things out to me from time to time, and I too appreciate their feedback.

    I would suggest doing if if the person is a really great fit, but you need better formatting/layout/more explanation to forward to the hiring manager.

    This makes me wonder though.. flower boarders etc?? Are these candidates just not reading anything on how to format a resume?

  17. Wilton Businessman*

    I think beyond simple grammatical, spelling, or structural mistakes, you are in a gray area about style. Who’s to say that my recent MBA with no experience helps or hurts? That’s for me to decide. I think that’s why it’s so important for the candidate to really think about the position they are applying for (although with recruiters that’s not always easy) and tailor the resume to the position.

  18. Hypatia*

    Well, I personally love feedback (and always ask for it) , but I think there are just too many crazies out there to make it worth the interviewer’s time. (Plus, being on the interviewer side of the table, you’d be surprised how many people try to convince me after the fact about why I was wrong not to hire them, and won’t I give them a chance…? Uh. No. And your insistence is not helping. Where I might have had a neutral opinion before, now it’s veering into unfavorable because you’re pushy and can’t tack “No” for an answer.”)

    I also have to say that I would worry about legal issues… for example, my sister (not the brightest bulb, I’m sorry to say) went on and on about her SON (age 7) in her cover letter (which she asked me to look over for her… I promptly deleted everything and started over.) Not a good idea. Saying to a potential employee, “Um, you really shouldn’t talk about your children in your cover letter… ” Can quickly become, “I’m going to sue you because you’re discriminating against me.” Not worth the headache.

  19. Crystal*

    Once when I was hiring for a job that would subject the employee to a lot of criticism, I marked up every interviewee’s resume and ended the interview by going over what I perceived as the candidate’s errors and mistakes in the cover letter and resume. Anyone who got defensive and belligerent was not suited for the job. I did not get the feeling that anyone enjoyed or appreciated it.

    1. Ellie*

      Wow, that seems pretty intense. That would make me pretty upset, but I’m also the person who is made miserable by being subjected to a lot of criticism, so you would have achieved your objective. How did you come to that idea and were you able to find a good candidate with that strategy?

    2. Natalie*

      How would you have reacted if a candidate disagreed on certain errors. I’m thinking of things that are really a matter of opinion, such as the oxford comma.

    3. Wilton Businessman*

      I actually like this idea for the right position. If you are interviewing for a position where the candidate will have to defend their opinion/research, then you want somebody who isn’t going to be a “yes man”. Some positions this would be totally inappropriate, some it might just be an effective tactic to see what kind of person you are dealing with.

      PS. thanks for taking away the captcha, I can never read those things.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I hated the captcha too. The math field was doing odd things before though, like telling people that correct answers were wrong. Alert me if that happens again!

  20. HR General*

    Hmmm…it’s funny that almost everyone here says that YES, they want feedback. As an HR person who has done recruitment for many years, I often have the urge to guide people on how to improve their resume, especially when the improvements required are rather glaring. I have an unofficial resume-writing/review service for friends and family, so it’s a natural instinct. But in the (probably 3) times that I have done this to candidates, I had 1 person tell me that they felt their casual language (and even more ‘casual’ use of grammar and spell-check) was their way of “screening out employers whose culture was too uptight for him”, and the other 2 people took it as an opportunity to convince me why I was wrong about not offering them the position.

    I’m sure no one on this thread would do that, but something to keep in mind if a recruiter/hiring manager wants to give you some constructive criticism :)

    1. Anon*

      Same here. I’ve gotten so many offended/belligerent responses, it’s just not worth it to give feedback anymore.

  21. Bella*

    Unsolicited advice? Absolutely not! Even giving solicited advice might be a bad idea in most situations. If you choose to give advice, I’d say do so very carefully and definitely do feel like this is something you must do for everyone.

    Every job applicant who doesn’t land an interview wants to know why. Depending on the company and number of applicants, this could end be hundreds of requests each year. HR’s job is to take care of their employer, not dole out advice to random job applicants. Start a consulting business if you want to review and rate cover letters and resumes all day.

    What about the applicants’ responsibilities? Is it really news to hear that you should spell check your cover letters, that your resume font should not be Comic Sans or that your contact email should not be “”?? It’s not that hard to find a website or a book that will provide you with good, basic resume writing or job hunting tips.

    Let’s not forget the folks who just want to argue. Some people ask for constructive criticism but cannot handle it when they get it.

  22. LW*

    there have been a few people that I have come back to and said ‘would you like some feedback’ – if they say ‘yes please’ then I ask if they are feeling strong! These tend to be people who have sent in CVs without there being a specific job, and in a couple of instances I have pulled them apart and helped restructure (someone who’d spent the last 15 years running a hair salon so had no clue where to start for example). And I do tend to point out to the people who have ridiculous email addresses that a specific applying-for-jobs email address might be a better idea.

    Then there was the girl I called and asked if she was dyslexic… ‘why is there a typo on my CV?’ I only had the heart to point out the one in her own address… not all the lower case ‘i’s, etc etc etc. Sometimes you just can’t help!

  23. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I think it would be impractical to include the “let me know if you’d like feedback” line as a standard part of a rejection email, because you wouldn’t have time to do it for everyone who said yes, both because of the quantity of candidates and because lots of people have applications where the feedback would need to be a lot of nuanced/complex, as opposed to a quick “hey, get rid of that flower border.”

    But I do like the idea of including it on a case-by-case basis, where you see someone you’re dying to help and know you could do it quickly.

  24. Gene*

    I wouldn’t do this simply because of the “I love hearing constructive criticism.”/”Why are you picking on me?” dichotomy that most people have. I have enough trouble with my innate grammar-Nazi tendencies. Give me most resumes/cover letters and a red pen and it will look like a murder scene on CSI.

    1. jmkenrick*

      People DO have this dichotomy. It’s very frustrating in others, but even more frustrating in myself. Objectively, I know I want & can use constructive criticism, but when I think I did something well and it’s criticized, I sometimes have to actively suppress the irrational side of me that wants to get defensive. This is especially true if the person giving the feedback isn’t particularly tactful. I think I’m pretty good at putting aside my more childish inclinations, but does anyone else have to actively set aside their defensiveness sometimes? I worry that people can tell that I’m doing that.

  25. Colleen*

    It may also depend on your HR policies at your workplace; some places I’ve worked would not allow us to give any feedback other than there were multiple qualified candidates for the job. At this point, when hiring, I’m happy to provide constructive feedback, but only to those applicants who actually *ask* for feedback, and there are very, very few of those. Passively waiting for a hiring manager or search committee member to contact you to help you out probably will not net you much help. As with everything else, being proactive goes a long way. Also, a good way to phrase it to make the question easier to field is not “What did I do wrong?”, but “How could I have made my application stronger?”.

    Best of luck to all!

  26. Z*

    As a job seeker (not currently, but in the past), I would love to get this type of feedback. To counter the defensive responses, I would say it should be done via email and not over the phone. If you call someone and list problems, they feel that they have to respond immediately, and their immediate response will probably be negative. If they get an email, they’ll have time to breathe deeply a few times before responding (if they respond at all). While they might still feel defensive at first, some of the advice might sink in in the long run.

  27. Fifi*

    As a job seeker right now I’d love unsolicited feedback. I think any sane person would like feedback.

    And if a candidate is offended by unsolicited feedback, well, they’re not being hired anyway, are they?

  28. Kate*

    I did a round of hiring this year, and I gave every candidate that I rejected at least a reason, in terms of feedback, because that’s what I would want in their shoes. Many didn’t respond, so I have no idea how to gauge their reaction. One who didn’t attach the required cover letter wrote and told me a I was an idiot because I didn’t see her attachment and of course she wrote a cover letter. One took to Twitter to say I was a classless bitch for saying his writing experience wasn’t a good fit for the position. One wrote me back and said, “Thanks, can I also ask you X & Y?” And I had a few conversations with him. I saved his LinkedIn profile, and if I’m hiring again next year, I’ll probably call him back.

  29. Janice*

    I am conflicted when people give me feedback on my resume format. I’m trying to delve myself into social media marketing, in which creativity is encouraged. I am also interested in graphic design and tried to reflect both my creativity and design skills. I’ve only interned at few places but I’ve managed to get internships without much difficulty. The only “problem” everyone who critiques my resume is the size of my name. I made it the same 12-size font as the other content in my resume instead of the traditional big is-it-big-enough-for-you font. Not to mention, it is accented with red to contrast all the black on the paper.

    Most of the “untraditional” companies seem to love it while “traditional” companies don’t. Should I heed the latter’s advice and diminish who I want to reflect on my own resume? I’ve always been confused.

    Nonetheless, I would love it if every rejection letter included how I can better target myself or edit my resume to get over that stepping stone. I didn’t think people cared and knowing that they do makes me happy.

    1. Anonymous*

      Have two versions of your resume – one for more creative companies and one for more traditional companies. Know your audience.

  30. Liz in a library*

    Honest answer? I think I might be a little caught off guard, depending on how the feedback was worded, and depending on my mood while reading it.

    Once the embarrassment of having done something kind of stupid publicly wore off, I think I’d appreciate the feedback and act on it.

  31. Sandrine*

    Well, I was at an interview yesterday, and I have to admit I actually used some of what I read in this post in my closing lines :D .

    I told the ladies interviewing me that, while I do realize some people may get offended when criticized (in the interview they asked me what I would say if someone told me I was doing something wrong, we explored a few possibilities and they seemed to like my answers) , I would really appreciate it if they told me things I could improve on to make my application stronger, if I am not chosen for the job.

    They did seem to think it was a little weird, but in a good way, because it made them smile and they told me they’ll think about it. Now, they may never say anything, I may not get the job either, but at least I put myself out there and asked. I just wanted them to feel free to tell me anything (and I do mean *anything* – been looking for a job for more than 6 months and I tried to tweak my resume/attitude a few times, with no results so far… so I would love feedback on what to change to get more results :D) just in case there was something to say.

    If I get that job, I’ll have a drink in your honor AAM hehe. Come to think of it, for me I think it’s even funnier cause your advice should not apply to me, in theory, since I am not in the US :P .

      1. Sandrine*

        Well… funny how the world works, right ?

        Because some time after I posted that reply this morning, I got the email that I did, indeed, get the job :) .

        My sister wants to celebrate, my boyfriend bought a bottle of wine, and my mother in law is such in awe that she had to sit down because she did not believe I could get a job anytime soon… especially since it’s the French type of contract many people are aiming for in the private sector (full time CDI, which is basically a permanenent job and out of the probation period I can only be fired for a serious offense) .

        1. bob*

          Congrats! After being out of work for 2 years and 4 months this was my first week at my new job thanks in no small part I’m sure to my awesome AAM inspired cover letter and interview. Also, I know my stuff…

          But, um, your boyfriend and mother-in-law??

          1. Sandrine*

            LOL I usually use the term anyway to describe the boyfriend’s mother. Because in French, we have one phrase to describe her (“belle mere” -and I don’t even have the accents, Qwerty keyboard, sniff) , and this phrase can describe a stepmother, a mother-in-law… so in English I just tend to use “mother in law” even though it’s not quite accurate (yet, I hope :P) .

            1. Jen M.*

              I’m in the U.S. My boyfriend and I refer to each other’s parents the same way. For us, it’s shorthand, and we’ve been together a few years, so why not?

              Congrats on the new job!

  32. Natasha Wade, Career Strategist*

    I think it’s awesome and only right to give unsolicited feedback when the mood strikes.

    Furthermore, if the candidate becomes noticeably offended; it just validates that they definitely weren’t a good fit. Any true professional can take it gracefully even when the advice is dispensed in poor taste.

  33. Anonymous*

    I think it is a very kind idea but the sort of people who make very blatant mistakes might not appreciate criticism. There are so many resources out there that help you with the basic rules of applying for jobs. Anyone who wants to improve on the basic stuff can do so on his own. (And thank you for a blog that is a great resource in job-related matters!)

    I remember my first job applications. I got a bunch of rejections, not a single interview. Finally, I went to the library, grabbed a bunch of books on applying for jobs and worked on my materials. After that I started getting interviews. It is doable for anyone who is willing to invest the effort.

    After the absolutely worst job interview of my life (the very first one), the HR person offered me feedback. I never called him back to get it. Why? Because I was incredibly embarrassed about the way I had (mis)handled this interview and wasted the interviewers’ time. I came out of this interview with a long list of things that I wanted to improve. It was a real low point for me (as in “hide under the covers for a day and pray never to run into this person ever again”). It was also the single most effective learning experience ever.

    Long story short, I would not have appreciated if the HR rep had just left me a message with his feedback instead of offering it (even though it probably would have been very valid). So I second the suggestion of offering feedback but not giving unsolicited feedback.

  34. Tracy Brisson*

    I’ve had this discussion a few times with colleagues and on Twitter chats. When I am helping a company with recruiting, I try to ensure that everyone has as positive experience as possible with the hiring process, but I don’t think giving feedback is part of that. Recruitment and HR work is not supposed to be altruistic. It’s supposed to be about helping a company perform well enough to meet its goals by identifying the candidates who will be a great part of the team and support them in their new roles. If a company is doing all that well, there is little time for feedback with the applicant pool. I have seen a lot of companies fail because their recruitment isn’t business and results driven. While not everyone can afford a coach or resume writer, there are lots of resources out there like alumni services, libraries, etc. As a recruiter, I always look for people who take initiative to learn and access resources because it is a sign you’ll do well on the job.

  35. LP*

    Wow, There’s been a fair few comments on this. I think next time we’re hiring, I’ll put a line in the rejection emails offering to provide feedback to those who I think would particularly benefit from/appreciate some. I might try to personalise it somewhat though – I’m not sure how common it is elsewhere, but I often receive rejection emails offering feedback but, when you actually call, they tell you that there were just better applications than yours. We may not be hiring for a while, but I’ll try to keep you posted on how this goes if I get the chance to try it.

  36. Rachel*

    I’m a contractor. That involves interviewing for my next project every 6-9 months or so. I go in, do the job, and then look for a new role with some other organisation. It’s what I do, and I’m extremely good at it. It always makes me laugh when someone with whom I’ve interviewed or to whom I’ve sent my CV presumes to give me feedback because I’m not the right person for their particular needs, despite my CV reflecting the long track record of success I’ve had with my approach. I always imagine such people to be the sort of individual that tells prospective beaus precisely why they don’t find them attractive, or ask to see the chef at restaurants if a new dish that they try isn’t to their individual taste. Giving unsolicited advice, in any context let alone one where people have shown enough interest in what you’re offering to open themselves up to you, is presumptuous and arrogant in the extreme. If we candidates want your feedback, we will ask. We do know that there are plenty of other fish in the sea……if you happen to like fish. But please don’t advise us on how to be more fishlike unless we indicate to you that your lack of interest is in some way disappointing. Chances are, we’re the right fit for somebody else’s requirement, even if we’re not up to your particular tastes.

    I do hope this feedback hasn’t offended you. ;)

  37. FD*

    I’m going to toss this in here even though it’s wildly late.

    Probably one of the nicest rejections I’ve ever gotten was from a job that was a stretch to apply for, though not completely out of the question. The manager went out of his way to reach out and encourage me to stay in touch, and to explain that while my resume was fine, I needed another year’s experience in X and Y to be a really good candidate.

    However, that was sort of a reassurance because it wasn’t really about personal failings, so much as just not fitting what they needed. When it’s more personal (bad cover letter, etc.) then it gets…dodgy.

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