how can we get job applicants to stop applying for every open position?

A reader writes:

I am the recruiting manager for my organization. We receive over 100 applications every month from candidates looking to fill some of our vacant positions. I am the only one who screens, interviews, checks references, runs background checks, and completes hiring paperwork with applicants. As you are well aware, it can be a very time consuming process.

My question is, how can I get applicants to stop applying if we have already declined them multiple times? There are various reasons for this. Some of the applicants have had negative references and we certainly do not want to give out that information. We always tell references that their references remain confidential, and we want to of course honor that. Other times they have not returned calls for screens and interviews. In that case, we usually tell them and they argue with us on why they deserve another chance. A few of the applicants will apply every time we post a job and then will reapply for the job every time they get the rejection letter until the job is no longer posted.

One in particular threatened to sue us for not giving her an interview and has since been reapplying and leaving messages on everyone’s machines every month. Another applicant has not shown up for his interviews three times, and even though we explained to him that we would not move forward for that reason, he continues to reapply. Then of course there are those who just applying over and over again and we just don’t think they are a good fit (job jumpers, no experience, behavior when applying, etc.) for our company. At times, what these applicants are doing could be considered (or at least feels like) harassment. If I can give them feedback, I definitely do. It’s just not always possible. We’ve even rewritten our rejection letter specifically for applicants who we’ve already rejected multiple times in hopes they will get the message that we will not be moving forward with them.

We want to be extremely careful with our words so that we don’t create a situation where it could negatively affect our agency either legally or socially, but we really want these few people to stop contacting us. How do we tell them to stop, that they will never be considered, and that we won’t be giving them a reason no matter how hard they press or argue?

You might not be able to. No matter how perfect your wording, not everyone is willing to hear or accept that message — as evidenced by people like the guy who keeps applying after you’ve pointed out to him that he’s no-showed on three past interviews.

Moreover, for a lot of people, it’s not so much that they’re not willing to accept it — it’s that they’re not retaining it and connecting it to the next ad they see from you. They’re applying for a bunch of jobs, they see yours, they forget that this is the same place that told them to stop applying, and so they send in a new application.

That said, you can certainly give it a shot and see what happens. It’ll probably cut down on some it, although not all, and it’ll be a kindness to the people who pay attention. Say something like this:

“Thanks for your application. We’ve considered your candidacy in the past and don’t think the match is right for the roles we hire for.  However, we appreciate your interest and wish you all the best in your search.”

With someone whose behavior has been more egregious, like the guy who didn’t show up for three interviews, you could be more blunt: “Because we’ve scheduled interviews in the past that you didn’t show up for, we won’t be able to consider this or other applications from you in the future.”

But really, it’s always going to happen to some extent. It’s just part of the package with hiring, and it’s better not to get frustrated by it.

Relatedly, I’d urge you not to think of it as harassment. In most cases, these are people who are anxious for a job, maybe feeling desperate, and clearly in a bad position since they don’t have great job search skills. You don’t need to continue considering them every time, but try not to feel besieged by them. Send a rejection letter and move on.

{ 182 comments… read them below }

  1. Laura*

    Can you just set up a filter so that applications from those email addresses are automatically moved to a separate folder (or better yet, the trash folder)? As Alison said, those people aren’t likely to stop applying no matter what, and at least that way you wouldn’t keep seeing their applications over and over.

    1. OhNo*

      That was my first thought. I know the program/system that the OP is using might not have this functionality (the one at my job sure doesn’t), but if it did that would certainly take some of the load off.

    2. Gandalf the Nude*

      I was going to suggest the same thing. But if your company has an affirmative action plan, OP, make sure that however your filter these complies with the record-keeping aspects of that plan.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I wouldn’t trash them, but that was my first thought, that the OP needs more efficient processes to handle these unwanted applicants, because ultimately they can’t control what these applicants do. Filtering them to a folder is more efficient. You also want to keep all the attempts as proof that 1) they didn’t stop when requested, 2) they applied to things they weren’t qualified for, 3) their applications didn’t meet the most basic professional standards, etc. You really should keep all that info just in case any of them is crazy enough to sue, and can find a lawyer unethical or misguided enough to take their case.

    4. Moonsaults*

      No. No. Never ever throw out applications. I understand the idea behind it but it’s a dangerous road to start down.

      1. AMT*

        Care to explain the rationale? It’s hard to see the downside of refusing to consider bad repeat candidates.

        1. RecruitingManager*

          One of the main reasons we are required to keep them is that it shows the history of these applicants. The one I mentioned in my question above who threatened to sue, she’s applied 27 times in the last 13 months. We have asked her to stop applying. Every time she gets our rejection letter, she calls the human resource director and executive director to argue with them on why she deserves an interview. She was interviewed a few years ago and after not receiving the job left several nasty messages on the hiring managers voicemail, then looked him up on Facebook and sent him a nasty message about how he was incompetent and not deserving of his position at our company. For the record, he’s one of the best managers we have. If we ignore her applications, she calls to follow up once or twice a week. It got to the point that we were screening our calls to avoid her. Should she ever try to take us to court for discrimination, we have a long history showing her behavior.

          1. seejay*

            Yep, when you’re getting harassed, you want a clear trail of evidence to show a pattern no matter what, especially to show what you did (or didn’t do) to deal with it. Authorities are really leery about getting involved in two-way fights that they see as mud-slinging back and forth so if there’s a really strong case that shows one side did everything they could to document and keep track of what happened and steer clear of the person doing the harassment, plus avoided contact and never engaged, they’ll take it a lot more seriously and are very likely to do something about it.

            If the company eventually gets fed up and tries to claim harassment and all they can show is one or two emails and just “says” they got a year’s worth of phone calls and emails and has nothing actually documented, or tries to write down what happened over a year in a day, they’re less likely to be believed or have satisfactory action taken. Same with responding in any sort of retaliatory way (no matter how frustrated they get). It sounds counter-intuitive, but basically when getting harassed, you just have to put up blocks, avoid it, and not respond at all (outside of “do not contact me / we are not hiring / etc”). Clear one-sided contact when the other person is doing everything possible to avoid it shows obvious malicious intent and gets the authorities to pay attention (well usually).

            So when confronted with someone that starts to scare you, makes you nervous, uncomfortable, etc, start saving everything. You don’t know if you’re going to wind up needing it.

            1. Greg*

              In those cases, I would suggest not sending them rejection letters. Clearly, the mere act of hearing bad news from you sets them off. It might even be part of some weird masochistic dynamic where they want to receive a rejection in order to have someone to blame their troubles on. Maybe if you just ignore them completely, they’ll find a cloud to go yell at or something.

          2. Charlie*

            This is absolutely bonkers. I have nothing but sympathy for the poor saps pumping out multiple applications, because I’ve been there, but this woman’s behavior is completely beyond the pale. She is definitely, unambiguously harassing people at your company, and you’re doing well to retain every communication she sends your way. Just hope nobody gets harassed in person.

          3. Julie Noted*

            I wonder what goes on inside someone’s head that makes them think this is a course of action that will turn out well for them.

            1. AnJo*

              A mental illness. Could be a delusional disorder, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder or a manic phase of bipolar disorder.

              1. Janice*

                Hey now, we don’t do that here.

                In any country where welfare payments or disability support is dependent on a person submitting job applications, it is neither necessary nor helpful to try to armchair diagnose people in this situation.

              2. Done With Stigmitizing Mental Health*

                That’s a disgusting thing to say! Just because someone has a mental illness, that does not mean we act this way! Moreover, plenty of people without any mental disabilities are even worse than this woman. Keep your armchair diagnosing and mental health stigmitizing to yourself!

        2. Moonsaults*

          If anyone goes for you for discrimination and you go “oh we never got her application” but they can prove they did send multiple ones, you’re going to get the labor buearu up your rear end about unfair hiring practices. You have to accept applications and should keep them on file, no matter how half assed or bad they are, that’s your proof that they aren’t a good fit for the job not that you just didn’t like their name, age, gender, etc.

          1. AMT*

            Ah, I see. I was thinking more along the lines of “filter these to a special do-not-hired folder” than “erase them altogether.”

            1. Moonsaults*

              I can see a filter being OK because you’d still have it on file.

              It has to be on file though, even if it’s a duplicate copy, since it’s dated and they can show they “tried” multiple times.

              The original poster mentioned filtering it directly to the trash, that’s why my response was that you have to keep them, so the trash isn’t an option! It’s really easy to know who is an automatic no and to just chuck it in the rejects, just obnoxious over time.

    5. INTP*

      Agree with this. You will NEVER stop people from applying to jobs you don’t want them to apply to. Just work on using your technology to keep their applications away from your eyes so they don’t stress you out. Put their email address on an automatic redirect to the “no-gos” folder. If you use an ATS, figure out if there is a way to leverage the “Do Not Recruit” status or a similar function. Keep your phone numbers as private as possible, and definitely don’t publish them or give them to a candidate before they’ve passed a phone screen.

      Also, you might want to stop giving people feedback. I’m sure it’s been helpful to a few that are simply over-eager, but most people aren’t taking this feedback to heart, they’re hearing it and immediately rationalizing why it was unfair and you should give them another chance. And for the ones that are truly crazy or aggressive, engaging back with them only marks you as a responsive target for further harassment. This is why most people involved in hiring give only very generic and sanitized feedback.

      And importantly, don’t TELL people that you’ll be filtering them from now on or they’ll just make new email accounts to get past it. Give them a very basic “We won’t hire you ever” script, and quietly filter.

    6. RecruitingManager*

      I really wish we had a way to filter them. Unfortunately we do not. They can apply over and over again. I’ve even contact our rep at one of the major job boards we use and they told us they do not even have a way to screen them out. This particular board lets applicants apply once every two weeks for the same posting. What we are finding is these individuals wait the two weeks and reapply. Sometimes the apply on our local job board, our website and indeed at the same time. Our agency name and logo is posted on all of our job listings so I can’t see how they don’t realize they are applying for the same job within minutes of each other.

      1. INTP*

        Yeah, that’s annoying that you can’t filter them out. I think at this point is just comes down to a choice not to give them your mental energy – mentally absolve yourself from having to contact, reject, or spend any time on them, or worry about their motives or whether they know they’re doing this, and they become just a minor annoyance of having to click them away from your viable candidates list, like a Spam email.

        They absolutely realize that they’re applying to the job in three locations at once. They’re doing it on purpose just in case you aren’t checking one of the application sites.

      2. Beezus*

        For the one that allows applicants to reapply to the same posting – can you stop using them, and let them know that’s why? It doesn’t seem like you’re lacking for applicants, anyway, so maybe you can afford to cut one job board out?

      3. copy run start*

        There’s a chance that they are confused on the best way to apply, and so they’re applying all three ways in the desperate hope that one of the applications will magically “reach” you. Like how people will sometimes attach the resume as a .docx and .pdf, copy-paste the resume in the email and then fax you a copy too for good measure.

  2. Gene*

    “it’s that they’re not retaining it and connecting it to the next ad they see from you.”

    Is the only place you post these jobs on your own website? If it’s on other sites, the employer may not even appear there, so they may not know that they are applying to the same company over and over.

    Then again, they’re just showing gumption!

    1. Joseph*

      Yeah, this is a big thing. If you guys use anything except for “just our own website”, it’s entirely possible that some of these candidates don’t actually know it’s the same job or even the same company.
      In fact, in my old job, I used to handle resumes all at one time in a large batch. Notably, there was one memorable moment where I was going through the pile and got deja vu from seeing the same resume three separate times – once from a direct application, once from a recruiter, and once through a job aggregation website (e.g., Monster).

    2. RecruitingManager*

      We use Indeed, a local job board and our website. All postings show our agency name and logo.

      1. I Heart Oregon*

        +to this! I have tried EVERYTHING to solve this problem. The Indeed “easy apply” resumes go straight to my main email inbox. Even after flat out telling them that we won’t hire them, the resumes still come rolling in. I basically make a note in their employee file in our datatbase and then delete it. If it’s so excessive that it’s making me crazy I will have it filter that specific person to junk mail, but that’s really only been a select few.

        1. Anna*

          You are in Oregon, I take it? And Oregon has a lot of high profile companies with desirable positions, especially around the Portland area (go PDX). I think it’s the “curse” part of “It’s a blessing and a curse” for well-known, high-profile companies that people want to get in with.

          On the other hand, I know someone who applied to more than 120 jobs at BIG HOSPITAL ON A HILL before he was hired, so depending on the company, it really does take that sort of nutty effort to get in. Your results may vary, of course, but if your company has a reputation for being a difficult one to crack, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to head off the people who are terrible and you know you won’t hire because they’ll just think it’s part of the ritual.

      2. Sas*

        I get where you’re coming from. Chances are you have your job because you’re good at it. Not defending the people that you don’t seem to like applying frequently, but maybe they are desperate for a position. Not that that has much to do with you, but maybe they haven’t found “that job” yet. Try to file what happens another way. Not everyone receives the best job advice, most people don’t actually. They learn. Those other jobs boards can be such a mess though, but that’s where the hiring community has gone. Try to have a little more understanding of those people who dropped $$$ in college, with little career advice, and are out there hoofing it, or those like me that simply had their life fall apart, and are trying to get back to something. It’s not your fault, but it really isn’t theirs either. We love a world where you apply all online, it takes hours to carefully craft each application, thousands of sites to get through NO CALLING, but it’s tough on both sides!

  3. LizB*

    This might be a terrible idea, but after you use one of Alison’s “we won’t ever hire you” scripts with someone, can you set up some kind of automatic email rule that would reject them without you ever seeing their application? Something that would detect the applicant’s email address on incoming applications and send a form letter rejection similar to Alison’s first script. You can just add email addresses to the rule whenever you run into another never-hire-this-person candidate.

    1. Amber T*

      I’d argue that refusing to send them any kind of rejection at this point, even automatic, might be a better call. (Not stop with rejection letters all together, mind you, just the repeat offenders who don’t seem to get it.) Might be a product of my generation but if they get absolutely no response, they might back down (at least some of them might, hopefully).

      1. RecruitingManager*

        When we don’t send a response, they call to check on the status of their application. Unfortunately ignoring them hasn’t worked. :(

        1. INTP*

          This might not help with the ones that have your personal extension already, but can you remove all HR employees’ phone numbers or extensions from the website or anywhere else that they might be finding it, and instruct the receptionist to not forward any calls about checking on the status of an application? (The receptionist can just tell them “Yes we received it” or something.) A few will probably learn to lie and get past the gatekeeping, but many will be effectively dissuaded.

  4. Michele*

    I’ve seen some job boards set up that they prevent you from applying for the same job, noting that you’ve already applied for it. Or do you have a job bank where a person has to create an account and apply through it for role and then state you’ve already applied. Maybe it’s a help?

  5. Dan*

    I’d never tell a candaidate that you would *never* hire them. That’s just a very absolute statement, as you may consider them 10 years down the road (particularly the “not enough experience” crowd.)

    What might work, and I emphasize might, is wording to the effect of “we will keep your resume on file for one year, and contact you if potential matches open up.” At least hopefully you cut down reapplications to one per year.

    From a very practical perspective, you cannot stop people from applying. This is particularly true for the unemployed who need to report job contacts for UI benefit purposes.

    1. Eric*

      *I* will never hire the person who has no showed for three interviews. Maybe down the road I won’t be doing the hiring and someone else will give them a chance…

      1. MK*

        10 years in the future this person could have won a Nobel prize and you might desperately need him. OK, probably not, but there is something melodramatic about saying you won’t hire someone if they were the last candidate on earth.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Eh, I think it’s pretty normal to have candidates you absolutely wouldn’t consider again. I mean, I once interviewed a guy who said something anti-semitic in the interview. Not hiring him, don’t care if he wins a Nobel prize.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              He was describing a past job which he apparently didn’t like because there were a lot of Jews there.

              I was less experienced at interviewing at the time and I just sat there frozen in shock and anger. I’ve kicked myself ever since for not saying something. Today, I would have just ended the interview on the spot and told him why, but that’s the benefit of age.

              1. Wendy Darling*

                Sometimes I just sit there frozen not because I don’t somehow have it in me to tell the person off, but because I literally cannot believe this is actually happening and some part of my brain is convinced that if I just ignore it, it will not in fact be happening. My brain just goes “It is not possible that this person is saying this revolting thing, it is too revolting. We must be mistaken.”

                1. KH*

                  Not to stray too off topic, but this is exactly why the women didn’t report Trump’s actions at the time it happened. They are shocked it is even happening and don’t know how to react.

              2. sam*

                That’s the “not only are you a bigot, you’re too stupid to figure out that you’re not supposed to say these things to other people” double whammy.


                Although I probably would have had a similar reaction – I’m low enough on the totem pole that I’m usually one interview among many – if I cut an interview short, I’d be worried about messing up everyone in my office’s schedule (including bosses). I’d probably be stunned and then explain to the other interviewers what happened afterwards.

                1. Nobody*

                  In that situation, it would probably be best just to cancel the rest of the interviews and save the other interviewers from wasting their time. I’m thinking if you ended the interview and called HR (or whoever set up the interviews) and reported what the candidate said, everyone would be on board with sending the candidate on his way immediately.

              3. Part of the Clan*

                Earlier this year, I traveled to our company’s warehouse to host a job fair with the facility’s manager. One of interviews went something like this:
                Me: Hello, thank you for coming. So I see you used to work at xxx, why did you leave there?
                Applicant: Well, it was run by Jews, so, you know…..
                I guess he thought that would be a good start.

                Honestly Alison, I’m a seasoned professional, and still didn’t say anything. Not because of the shock, which I did experience, but I felt that saying anything in response could cause him to react in a way that could be unsafe for me, the manager with me, and the people around us. You just don’t know how someone will react.

                We had a lot of people at the job fair and were only spending a few minutes with most of the applicants anyway. So, another question or two, and he was gone anyway. (I didn’t shake his hand though.)
                PS – I’m Jewish so, you know….

    2. Pwyll*

      Honestly, I use the “one year” language where the person is not the right fit for one role but could be for others. But I wouldn’t use that language for someone we know we won’t hire (due to weird interview behavior, missed interviews, unlicensed people for licensed jobs, etc.) that seems to reinforce to people that they ARE under consideration, and I’ve found it encourages them to reapply to other roles.

      1. RecruitingManager*

        We were using the “one year” language but then they were calling and asking us to reopen their application that we have on file. We now have that letter for people who we may actually consider and then a second letter for those we won’t that removes that line. After researching the best way to handle it, our letter for repeat negative applicants is now:

        “We appreciate your interest in ******* and the position for which you applied. After reviewing the large volume of applications received, yours was not selected for further consideration.

        The selection committee appreciates the time you invested in your application. We wish you every personal and professional success with your job search and in the future.

        Thank you, again, for choosing ******* as a potential employer.”

        The new letter worked for some, but others just don’t seem to get it.

        1. Emilia Bedelia*

          To me, this doesn’t say “Never apply here again”. When you say “the position for which you applied”, it really sounds like you’re only replying to that application. I would be way more direct: “We appreciate your interest in **********. After considering your application, you have not been selected as a candidate for further consideration with *******. Etc etc etc”

          1. LeRainDrop*

            I agree with Emilia. To me, your form letter sounds like, “Thanks so much for being interested in working for us! You have not been selected for this particular position, but we wish you better success next time!” Sort of the opposite encouragement from what you’ve intended.

        2. MillersSpring*

          I agree that this is so cordial and cheery that would get the hopes up if those never-gonna-hire applicants. Maybe try, “We received your application for the Teapot Maker position. This role has been filled with another candidate. We wish you success in your job search.” And for the never-gonna-hire applicants add one of Alison’s suggested sentences, e.g. “We’ve considered you in the past for other positions but have concluded you’re not a match for our organization.”

          I wonder if any egregious behavior after that would merit a cease and desist letter from the company’s attorney?

    3. Non-Profit Recruiter*

      I know for our organization, we will never consider an applicant again under a few circumstances (and will tell them that). Recently we almost hired someone, but they falsified their background. We rescinded the offer and told them that they will never be eligible for employment with us again, but this person still continues to reapply. We even left her a vm that “we will not hire you now or at any point in the future”. Sometimes there is nothing you can do about it.

      1. RecruitingManager*

        We are a human services agency and we have to be really careful with who we allow around the people we serve. There are definitely people we would never hire and could never hire due to regulations set by outside agencies.

        1. CanadianKat*

          You might want to put something in the job ads, like:

          “No telephone calls or agencies please. We thank all applicants in advance for your interest in our organization and advise that only those selected for an interview will be contacted.”
          (I copy-pasted this from an actual job ad.)

          And then just don’t return their “Have you received my application?” phone calls.

          See also Alison’s advice here:

          1. Stardust*

            Ooh, I like that wording for no phone calls to check status.

            I’d also agree with the comments above that the response to decline applicants sounds almost too hopeful that the applicant may read as your job openings are still possible with your organization.

            I wonder if something more along the lines of: “Thank you for your interest in TeaPot company. There were many qualified applicants, and we have decided to move forward with other applicants that more closely fit the needs of the role. Good luck with your job search.”

  6. CMT*

    It’s probably not practical to spend your time and energy trying to get these people to stop. An email filter or some kind of list to check against to make sure nobody spends time reviewing these applications is probably the best bet.

  7. Crabbypants*

    There also may be a contingent of folks applying just so they can fill the checkbox on unemployment forms. I think they have to apply at X number of places per week to continue receiving unemployment benefits, and it is probably easier to apply somewhere you know you won’t be interviewed rather than hassle with coming in…if all they want is to fill a checkbox.

    1. Xarcady*

      Yes, I was thinking this. Not for the no-shows for interviews and the like, obviously.

      My state requires you apply for 4-5 jobs a week, more if you’ve been unemployed a long time. And if you are offered a job, you have to take that job or lose your unemployment benefits.

      So if there aren’t many jobs that you actually want to apply for in a given week, you are left applying for jobs you don’t want. And I guess applying to a company where you know they are going to reject you is one way not to get a job offer that you really don’t want.

      1. LawCat*

        Wow! What if their aren’t that many jobs advertised or in your line of work?

        In my state, you have to be actively looking and certify that. You also do not have to take any job that comes along; it has to be suitable work, i.e., you don’t have to take a job outside of your realm of customary work. For example, a chef would not have to take a job as a receptionist and vice versa.

        1. EmmaLou*

          Unemployment doesn’t care if it’s in your “line of work.” Husband once had to take a part-time temp job setting up a Bed, Bath and Beyond because he was physically able to do the work. Didn’t matter that it was less than 2/3 of what his wage needs to be, nor that it wasn’t his career. He liked the work, the people were fun, but in no way sustainable.

          1. SeekingBetter*

            I can’t believe this. I was on unemployment earlier during the year and the thought of having to take a part-time job that pays less than half of what I was making makes me cringe.

          2. BananaPants*

            At first they let you be sort of choosy, but after a couple of months they basically expect you to take any job you can get – doesn’t matter if it’s not full time, if it’s for minimum wage when you used to earn a six figure salary, whatever.

        2. Anxa*

          Maybe there’s a line of work thing for people in more established work.

          The job I had unemployment for was one where I was laid off for the season. It was a waitressing job after college.

      2. Cafe au Lait*

        Yes, this. I once had an interviewee give a completely inappropriate answer to a question we asked in the interview. (The answer was sexual in nature).

        My coworker was pretty sure the interviewee was trying to throw the interview because they were receiving unemployment benefits. At the time I was shocked. Now that I know more about the welfare system, and how the slightest change in income can royally screw you over, I have more sympathy.

        1. AnJo*

          Could you spare a little of that sympathy for the taxpayers and the payers of unemployment comp premiums?

      3. Anxa*

        And it doesn’t even have to be jobs you wouldn’t want. I remember sincerely struggling to find enough jobs posted in my commutable area that I even qualified for. I applied for all sorts of jobs most people don’t find competitive. I definitely reapplied to the ones I knew I’d never get because I failed the personality tests.

    2. Anon for this*

      Yes. This is such a pain in the ass. I just started taking unemployment for the first time and I HAVE to apply to a certain number of jobs from the state website each week. Most of the postings are for things I’m not interested in taking, but I also have to report if I turn down any jobs. If you’re getting people applying for things there’s no way in hell they’d ever be interviewed for, that may be it. It’s not always their fault. Annoying for both of you, yes.

      1. Anon for this too*

        I live in a state that recently tripled the number of jobs a person on unemployment has to apply for each week to keep their benefits. All that’s going to do is inundate the poor front-line HR people that do the initial resume screens.

      2. Pari*

        be careful. I once called someone for a job who said something like “I’m not interested Bc i can stay home making x on unemployment.” I was so tempted to call the unemployment office.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Ours only required three a week, but even that was a struggle sometimes. Especially for someone with a learning disability! I had to apply to minimum-wage jobs a few times just to make the quota–we were supposed to keep a sheet filled out with the names/contact of employers we applied to (I made a spreadsheet). I didn’t want to get busted if someone asked, but I would apply and then pray they never called me. A minimum-wage job halfway across town wouldn’t pay for my gas money.

    3. Bad Candidate.*

      Yep. This. I have a friend who is going through a layoff. She’s union though and is in “limbo” at the moment where she sits in a room all day and has to apply for jobs. There’s no quota, but they want daily updates, step out of line and she loses her severance. She applies to everything she’s qualified for but there’s a limit to that, unless she starts applying at fast food and retail.

    4. NonProfit Nancy*

      +1. I used to be mystified by the bizarre applications I got until someone clued me in to this.

    5. Eddie Turr*

      In my state (and probably others), you’re not allowed to turn down a job offer while you’re on UI. So, during the weeks when I couldn’t find three suitable job postings, I’d select something where I knew they wouldn’t bring me in for an interview rather than something I might be overqualified for.

      If you ever see an applicant who’s not even remotely qualified for the job — especially if their resume indicates some logical career progression in a totally different field — that’s probably what’s going on. I applied to be a cement truck driver once.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        And when I was on UI, I wouldn’t apply for jobs that showed I would be taking a huge pay cut if I took it. Unfortunately, I applied for a job that didn’t show the pay and got an interview and offer. It was near the end of my unemployment benefits, and there was also a miscommunication. As a result I got a new job and a $15K pay cut. Except for the pay, it’s been a great job.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I applied to a job that sounded pretty good without looking into the company much, and when they scheduled me for a phone interview it turned out they were basically The Worst Company In The World (how do you even get a 1.4 star average on Glassdoor???). After the phone interview they asked for my salary history, and then told me they didn’t think it made sense to move forward with me because the top of their range was $25k under my previous salary.

          I had been overpaid for my title at my previous job for weird, complicated reasons, so I was willing to take a pretty big pay cut, but not a $25k pay cut to work for a company that even the interviewer admitted was a terrible environment, so I cheerfully allowed them to reject me and continued to collect unemployment.

        2. BananaPants*

          When Mr. BP was on unemployment a couple of years ago, he tried to do the same but was unlucky enough to get an interview and an offer and they not-so-subtly hinted that they knew he only had a month or 6 weeks left of UI. That was a warning sign; it turned out to be truly the job from hell – a 100% commissioned retail sales position – and we were actually relieved when they fired him 10 months later for missing a sales quota by $20. Awful, awful, awful.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Once, I saw a listing for a job at a funeral home with a weird title (think Something Setup) and I wasn’t sure what it was. They said to apply in person, so I swung by. The job was actually in the cemetery, not the actual funeral home, so you had to be able to run a backhoe (nope). I listed it as an employer contact even though I didn’t fill out the app, because hey, technically I contacted an employer about a job!

    6. TheLazyB*

      In the U.K. I was recently told that job seekers will soon, or do now, have to demonstrate that they are spending 35 hours a week job hunting. I can’t even.

      1. misspiggy*

        They do now. And if they can’t prove it, their payments get cut off for months. We’ve had deaths.

          1. Cat steal keyboard*

            A cynic might say the nasty snobs at the top don’t view this as a negative outcome.

          2. akcipitrokulo*

            They see it. They don’t care. Latest is charging disabled people £800 to appeal being refused benefits. Which means they have the choice of coughing up the money they don’t have and can’t get, or having no income.

            Being “tough” is a vote winner in some areas.

          3. akcipitrokulo*

            oh, and you can be forced to take “work experience” for no pay… sometimes doing the same job at the same place you were made redundant from. The employers love it.

        1. Mander*

          Yes to all this. It’s absolutely awful and I expect it to get worse. Completely inhumane. Though they did finally drop the requirement to reevaluate people on long-term disability every six months (iirc) for a condition that will never get better.

    7. MegaMoose, Esq*

      My state does require that you actively job search and can show your progress if asked, but THANKFULLY you’re only required to apply for work within your field/comparable to what you were doing before, and they’re supposed to take that into consideration when determining if your search is adequate or not. Thankfully I didn’t get audited when I was on unemployment, but I definitely kept a log.

      1. BananaPants*

        Our state gets less and less willing to let you stick to applying for comparable work towards the end of your UI eligibility. They figure that the longer you’re on unemployment without becoming comparably re-employed, the less likely it is to happen and they want people employed in SOME capacity before UI runs out. I think it helps with their statistics. They’ll let you apply for $80K/year jobs as a senior teapot analyst for the first 4-5 months – and then they expect you to start applying for the $10/hour jobs as a fork truck driver in the teapot factory.

  8. Murphy*

    Out of curiosity, are your positions posted on third party job posting sites that repost positions? When I used them, I used to notice that even though I was supposedly only looking at postings for the past few days, the same jobs would appear as “new” day after day. It’s possible that some of them think that they’re applying for different positions within the same company.

    Although that doesn’t explain the guy who no-showed for interviews 3 times. (Which…wow! Who does that?)

    1. Mike C.*

      Back in 2011 when I was looking for work I saw the exact same thing! It was nothing more than no-name places scraping original content together in one place, except they would start scraping each other and the cycle would never, ever end. There was almost no reference to the date posted, so you’d find a “new” job that was actually weeks or even months old.

  9. alex*

    Um I’d say that the applicant leaving messages for everyone and threatening to sue is engaging in harassment. Maybe block their number or have someone from legal send a letter?

  10. Observer*

    There is no need to go through with the process for anyone you have already decided are not a match for the company at all. Set up a simple database where you put in every application that comes in, with a status. When a new one comes in to a search by name and by email address. If there is a match on a DO NOT hire, just scrap the application. You could use it also have statuses like “Do not hire but reply” etc. so you can quickly filter out what you need to do and move on without having to search for information. And, as others have mentioned, for the really egregious ones, set up a rule that anything from that person gets deleted (or sent to a folder if you need to track applications.)

      1. TJ*

        That can actually get their email accounts deactivated (at least temporarily) by their email provider. Happened to someone I know. So if you want to go this route, use a filter — you still won’t see their emails, and you also won’t cause them any trouble in the process.

        1. Bruce H.*

          You say that like it’s a bad thing.
          If someone is spamming, and I think multiple unsolicited e-mails count as spamming, then having their e-mail account deactivated seems perfectly reasonable to me.

          1. Mike C.*

            So when someone does want to interview them they’ll never receive the notice? Come on.

            Harassment aside, applying to multiple jobs isn’t a crime, it’s not a scam and it’s done in good (but misguided) faith. The main issue here is that the OP doesn’t have access to the proper tools to deal with the kind and amount of traffic these job postings receive.

          2. SarahTheEntwife*

            Someone applying to a job (however annoyingly or unqualified for the position) isn’t sending unsolicited email. It’s not a good strategy as an applicant and is really annoying to the HR manager, but the job posting is pretty literally soliciting email from job applicants.

  11. animaniactoo*

    Instead of feeling besieged, you might look at the repeat applicants as people who are easy and early rule-outs.

    However, I would also bet that some continue to apply for open positions even after being told “no” and “not gonna happen for you” because they need to prove that they have applied in order to continue to get their unemployment.

    The application rule on unemployment has some drawbacks in that it can force people into applying for jobs that they know they are neither qualified for nor going to get, but if you think about it, there also isn’t a more efficient way (from their time/budget) perspective of proving that people ARE jobhunting. They don’t have the time or manpower to waste having people prove they are doing a dedicated job search for situations where people are applying for what gets them a good job for them, not just any job. They don’t have the time to comb through the available ads, and they don’t have the time to review that “yes, this job matched qualifications well”, etc. If they did, unemployment insurance would probably be higher to cover the cost of that kind of dedicated review.

    So… grain of salt – you pay less in UI, and have to spend an extra hour or so weeding through the “obvious no”s.

    1. animaniactoo*

      As others have said above – create a process for the easy and early rule-outs so that they stop making you nuts to keep seeing.

  12. Anonon*

    No advice, just commiseration. I used to work for a university that had 100s of open positions at once. Candidates would apply for 20+ positions in a single day. And not related positions, either. I never found an effective solution.

  13. TJ*

    Agreed that there probably isn’t much you can do, even though I’m sure it’s annoying to have to sift through their applications over and over.

  14. Laura*

    Do you have an online careers site where people register for profiles, can sign up to get alerts on new positions, etc? Because that could be causing people to get email from your company about a new position and think that they are supposed to apply even if you told them before not to.

    There’s a large health insurance company here where I’d previously applied for a few positions and heard nothing back. And yet, they continue to send me email a few times a month to apply for x position or y position, always starting with “you should move into a career with XYZ Healthcare! Here are all of the great reasons to work here!” I know the mailing list is generated from their applicant database in some way.

    1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      I applied with a major, national non-profit and never made it to the interview stage. But because I had to fill out a profile to apply, five years later I still get, “XYZ Org has a job you might be interested in” emails. I should go in and update my profile, but it’s so much easier to click delete.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        USA Jobs does that but then your profile will expire after a while. They send you an email letting you know. I let mine expire because there don’t seem to be any federal jobs in this life or any other that I could get.

        1. the gold digger*

          Yeah, no offense to Katie the Sensual-Wristed Fed and other government employees I know who do a good job, but based on some of my interactions with government, it appears that they filter out a lot of competent people.

          1. Dan*

            When I was unemployed a couple of years back, there was actually a fed job that I was 110% qualified for and actually got a phone call from the hiring mananger.

            But keeping in the spirit of this thread, USAJobs is a great place to resume bomb when you need unemployment contacts. They were good for many :) I just used the same application materials over and over, and was actually shocked to get a call back regarding a SECOND job.

            I have a theory about why you have the experiences that you do. If you are good at what you do, and are somehow unemployed, you will receive an offer from not the government long before the government gets around to contacting you (fed hiring is SLOW). So, the feds either hire people that haven’t found a job yet, or someone is currently employed and is leaving with the sole intention of working for that federal job.

            I work in a niche field. I have no idea how long it actually takes the feds to extend an offer, but what took the feds at LEAST three months to do, took my current employer three weeks. No, I’m not sitting around without a paycheck because the feds “might” hire me.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Well, I meant that they never seem to be hiring for the kind of jobs I can do. It’s always stuff like Structural Engineer, Accounting Guru, or Complicated Doohickey Technician.

    2. BananaPants*

      Ha! My husband applied to an insurance company where once you take their prescreening tests and apply, you’re locked out of applying for similar positions in their call center for 6 months. It’s like a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” kind of situation. It doesn’t stop them from sending him emails every week talking about all of the great job opportunities in the stupid call center that they won’t let him apply for until the 6 month clock runs out.

  15. BobcatBrah*

    “One in particular threatened to sue us for not giving her an interview”

    What a wonderful tactic to get hired.

    1. caryatis*

      Get the interview —> “I’ll sue if you don’t hire me!”
      Get hired —> “I’ll sue if you don’t promote me!”

      She’ll be CEO in a few years. This could not possibly fail.

    2. Dan*

      I always replied to peoples threatening to sue something along the lines of “Our lawyers have advised us to not communicate to the other parties without the consent of the judge and to not comment on the ongoing litigation”.

      Most of them understood that I wasn’t going to talk to them again and to not bother applying to another position.

  16. Caroline*

    I think the issue with trying to solve this problem is that there isn’t one single cause. Some people may not realise they’re applying to the same company (or job) because they’re applying through job sites which don’t always list the company name. Some people may see the company name, but are applying for so many jobs that they forget. Some people are applying just to show willing to keep their unemployment benefits. Some people are just truly desperate for any job and feel they have nothing to lose by repeatedly applying. And then you get the odd one who thinks you’ve must have made a terrible mistake in not hiring them and will see the error of your ways if they apply again!

    What this means is that there’s probably no way to stop all of this. You can spam filter out people who’ve no showed, or you’ve otherwise told that you’re never going to hire. But for the rest, just create a good, polite template rejection email and accept that unfortunately, it’s an inevitable part of hiring.

  17. Isabel C.*

    Not that it excuses the harassers or the people who have been told to stop applying, but over the course of my previous job search, I probably did end up applying for the same position twice a few times, largely by accident: I got rejected, saw the position open up again after two or three months, and figured that it was a separate position with the same title, or the candidate they did choose didn’t work out, or something. So that much is kind of hard to avoid, *unless* your applicant tracking software registers jobs for which a candidate has already applied. That did keep me from wasting my time on a few occasions, and is the only positive thing I can say about the software.

    1. Recruit-o-rama*

      I would say a repeat of two or three times is no big deal. In fact, I wouldn’t even notice it until it gets to the 10 plus arena so I wouldn’t worry too much about an accidental repeat. In fact, it can always work out in your favor. Maybe you were rejected the first time only because they were so far into the process that they were no longer looking at new applications and when you apply the second time, you will be the perfect fit.

    2. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I had a second interview today for a job I’ve applied for every year for the past four years. Three of those past times they gave me an interview (and one other second interview). Repeat applications definitely happen, but the OPs situation sounds wayyyyyy worse.

    3. Honeybee*

      Yeah, I almost did too. Luckily this company had a system that alerted you if you’d already applied for a position. That’s what made me start a spreadsheet tracking all the positions I’d applied to.

    4. Anxa*

      I do this all of the time when I get a rejection letter than says feel free to apply again. I figure if they don’t want me now and they won’t ever want me, why not apply just in case they really did mean it was okay to reapply.

    5. Snazzy Hat*

      I applied for a position twice, about two months apart. The first time I received no response at all. The second time I got a call for an interview five hours after I applied. During the interview, I learned the person they hired earlier embellished her experience and “quick learning” so much, the manager said he had never in his career spent that much time training someone who still hadn’t figured stuff out. Granted, I still didn’t get the job, but that interview call was such a huge boost to my confidence.

  18. Recruit-o-rama*

    I’m in the choir singing along.

    The bottom line, just send the rejection letters and move on. I would encourage you to not engage with the more persistent people as much as you can. Any reason you give them, they will counter. you will never get repeat applicants to stop, no matter how you word your rejections.

    With the woman who is calling everyone though, I would directly tell her to stop contacting the company. I have only had to do it a handful of times in my recruiting career, but it does normally stop the behavior. Just say, “we are not moving forward with your candidacy. Due to volume, we are not able to give individual feedback. Stop contacting the company”. It’s doesn’t feel “polite” and it’s not the standard rejection language, but some people need a far more definitive response. She is the rude, unprofessional one, not you.

  19. caryatis*

    “We receive over 100 applications every month from candidates looking to fill some of our vacant positions. I am the only one who screens, interviews, checks references, runs background checks, and completes hiring paperwork with applicants. ”

    I’m wondering if there’s a way to delegate some of this work (like the initial screening) so that the letter writer doesn’t feel quite so deluged and stressed. Surely someone at a lower level would be able to check for basics like “has this person already been rejected” “do they have a relevant degree” or “experience: yes/no.”

  20. drpuma*

    If applicants submit their applications through an online form, can you set it so that it will not accept repeat applications for the same job from phone numbers or email addresses that already exist in your system? Maybe add some benign messaging along the lines of, “Thank you for your interest! It looks like we already have an application from on you file for this role. We can only consider one application per candidate for this job.”

    1. Snazzy Hat*

      I love this idea. Maybe add “continued” before “interest”, unless I’m the only one who appreciates messages like, “we’re glad you still believe we’re a great place to work.”

  21. harryv*

    OP can validate this but I think this may be unintended consequence of overstating qualification and requirements on the job description. Recruiters may do this to limit the number of applications but applicants still apply thinking they can’t possibly find someone with all the requirements. Instead, I recommend listing the key core requirements and state that you will not consider anyone with these min. qualifications.

  22. Moonsaults*

    I’ve learned a lot about people applying for jobs and then hounding afterwards over the last year of dealing with it personally. My best advice is to give up on the idea of filtering these people out and work on your best canned responses.

    These folks have a pattern that’s ingrained within them and no amount of work on your end is going to make them go away, you’re investing too much energy in it. I understand your desire to figure out the magic way to make them just stop or steer them in a different direction and out of your way but you have much more important things to do in the end.

    Every person is their own independent case. Some just don’t understand, they’re young, never had anyone teach them or whatever else then there are others others know exactly what they’re doing but their personalities just keep them trucking along, leaving you nasty messages and such. It’s going to cost you much more emotionally in the end if you don’t just go off a script and stop trying to tweak it. Admit defeat on this and focus on how you can fish the best canadites out of the sea.

    1. RVA Cat*

      This. It’s not your problem to fix. It’s kind of like how there’s a certain percentage of terrible drivers out there. You can’t force them to change (unless you’re a cop or something) and it’s not up to you to “teach them a lesson” – you just do your best to avoid colliding with them and go on your way.

  23. B*kr*

    What about requiring a different “test” for each position, something that will verify the candidate is reading the job description and at the very least tailoring each application for the position. When I worked at the Teapot Shop we would ask for job history, availability, and your favorite tea drink. We never considered this answer in our decision, just whether the app included everything we asked for, and we included language to explain that. When we had plenty of applicants I never felt bad rejecting those that clearly didn’t follow directions. You could change up the q weekly – favorite book, movie, teapot design, since you’re filling so many positions.

    Additionally when I was an applicant to all different kinds of jobs, I rarely received rejection letters if my application didn’t make it to the next stage. I would only expect a rejection letter if I had received any communication from them that the company was interested in the first place. Perhaps it will give you peace of mind to ignore these unwanted applications rather than craft a response to each?

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I remember someone posting here about adding a supplementary question to their job application: do you enjoy filing? The job was a filing clerk. They still got a lot of “nos”.

      1. the gold digger*

        Wellllll — I do not like filing. Wait! I do! I find it oddly satisfying, but I do hate doing monthly financial reports. But what I hate even more than doing monthly financial reports? Is not being able to pay my mortgage. So – I do not have to like the work to do it – and I don’t even have to like it to do it well.

        1. Snazzy Hat*

          True, but if you were my filing clerk coworker & I knew you didn’t like filing, I would ask your manager if I could have your job instead.

    2. K.A.*

      I’m turned off by questions like that because it comes across as weird and gimmicky (like the “what color is your parachute” question). Some questions also seem personal. My favorite book reveals my gender (which my name doesn’t) and political leanings. Same with movies. The type of tea I drink makes me appear ethnic, which might turn off the predominantly white male leaders in my industry.
      I could choose another answer, but being no less than honest feels icky.

  24. Office Plant*

    Do you have to send rejection letters? Could you just create a filter that sends the “never will hire” applications to a “repeat applications” folder? That way you have everything on record in case of any nutty behavior later on, but you also don’t have to spend your time or energy on these people.

  25. NonProfit Nancy*

    This is why companies set up those hated online systems that make you fill out each line of your resume separately. One, it makes it harder to apply multiple times, which may dissuade some folks (like those who are applying to keep their unemployment benefits; that was my first thought, as noted in the comments above) and two it makes it easy to screen and reject folks on the back end without even looking at their materials. If you are like me, and detest those systems, you can at least comfort yourself that they do serve a purpose for people like the OP!

    1. NonProfit Nancy*

      [Slightly off topic]: In a not-to-be-named system I used in a past job, on the backend, it showed what other jobs at the company a candidate has applied to, right at the top under the name of the applicant. I’m sure the jobseekers don’t know that the system appears that way on the reviewer’s side, and they could really be screwing themselves with scattershot applications. For example, we had a credible candidate for a higher level position, but my boss disregarded them entirely as soon as he saw that they’d also applied for a lower level position. I felt bad for that applicant. And even if they’d been advanced, they would have hurt their future negotiation since my boss now knew they’d also applied to an entry level job with a lower posted salary range.

      1. animaniactoo*

        That really really sucks. It’s so easy to read that as somebody who really wants a job that matches their skills, but will accept something else just to get a paycheck. So they get rejected from the job they really want, just because they might need to accept something less in order to pay the rent in the event they don’t get the one they really want? I mean – that’s seriously penalizing someone for having bills.

        1. NonProfit Nancy*

          Yeah sadly in my experience (with senior level hiring at least) the attitude was that they’re looking for someone who’s confident, successful, and well connected and so wouldn’t consider a low level position.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Then, I guess they will get what they asked for, eh?

            I am hoping that their rejection caused the candidate to find a company that would be a great fit for her.

      2. Blue Anne*

        I’ve never worked with one of those systems from the back end, but as an applicant I always assumed they worked that way.

      3. Observer*

        Your boss is misusing the information, which is stupid. But if I saw that someone had applied to a lot of positions in the company, I’d proceed with caution, if at all. Especially if the applications seem scattershot.

  26. AndersonDarling*

    If you see the application coming in, can you reject it right away? That should send a message.
    Applicant fills out application.
    Hits Send.
    One second. Two Second, Three…
    Incoming email- Subject: “No Thanks”

  27. Stellaaaaa*

    Is there a reason you’re telling the references that their statements are confidential? If someone gave me a bad reference I would NEED to know, and to be honest, that’s the thing that would make me stop applying with your company. You don’t have to tell them the details; just inform them that their references were not positive so you can’t move forward.

    1. KellyK*

      It’s not in the reference’s best interest to be honest if the employer is going to repeat what they said to the applicant. They really have to treat that info as confidential if they want to get useful references.

      1. Milton Waddams*

        A former employer has no incentive to say anything truthful to a competitor — if anything, I would think negative references would be more common than they are, as a bad reference works quite effectively as a non-compete, As you pointed out, few people will out the bad reference giver, so it just seems like work has mysteriously dried up in their chosen field.

          1. Milton Waddams*

            Relying on some collusive golden rule among competing employers seems a little optimistic, in my opinion.

            If I gave glowing references for my worst employees and scathing ones for my best ones before sending them off to my competitors, there would be no consequences whatsoever for me. Would HR at my competition give a weighted rank to future references from my company? No, they would forget immediately after the employee had passed or failed the reference checking stage. It is also unlikely they would notice the pattern, since the worst of the worst wouldn’t make it to the reference-checking stage in the first place — it would just be the deadwood employees who were hard to fire for cause but who otherwise were awful. Maybe the best-of-the-best might break through a bad reference, but the risk-averse nature of larger companies means that generally the places where they could do the most damage (in key positions at large companies with deep pockets) are those they would be least likely to be hired on at. If you can’t have them walled out of the industry entirely, having them at start-ups that may fail due to lack of resources and high barriers to entry despite the talent of their staff seems like the safer bet.

          2. Chris*

            I’ve gotten good references and bad references. I’ve given honest references, and ones that answered the questions asked without volunteering details I would have wanted to know at the other end. Basically my advice is unless you have a personal relationship with the person giving a reference, it’s probably not reliable / accurate and certainly should never be used as a primary basis for a hiring decision.

    2. Jesmlet*

      I honestly would never come out and say this unless I sensed hesitation on their end to tell the complete truth. Like we ask, ‘is there anything about [applicant’s name] that you would change?’ and I can usually tell by the way they answer if they’re holding back and then I assure them it’s confidential. You want to get the most honest answers possible because your first responsibility is to the company and they need all relevant information.

      Now if it was a bad reference for another reason (those cases are very rare), I would tell the applicant as a heads up. Like for example one applicant told me beforehand that the ref had violated labor laws with her employment and sent me proof backing that up, but had also assured this person they would get a good reference. I was honest with her and told her when the lady was rude on the phone and said she couldn’t give her a good reference for ‘legal reasons’.

  28. Dynamic Beige*

    I can’t remember when or who said it here but they put a question in the online form about filing “Are you interested in filing yes/no” (or something like that) and it reduced the pool substantially.

    Is there some sort of question you could put in there like “have you applied for this job before?” that could shunt them into the blue pile faster?

    1. Snazzy Hat*

      I support this.
      If they say “no” despite having applied, that makes them either disorganized or a liar. No issues if they really haven’t applied before!
      If they say “not sure”, maybe they genuinely don’t know if this is a similar position or the same position. Think of the times you’ve seen possibly the same job posting multiple weeks in a row but really there are multiple openings at staggered times.
      If they say “yes”, your “stop applying” email should thank them for their continued interest in your company blah blah you have received their application already. Bonus points if you can mention the date of their earlier application.

      1. Chris*

        Alternatively, change the job posting to have ‘apply if you have not applied for the same posting within x months’, and anyone who double-taps it after that should be shunted to the bottom of the pile as being incapable of reading and following directions (assuming you consider that ability somewhat important to your business).

  29. Jesmlet*

    Our proprietary ATS has a way of not allowing someone to complete an application if their info matches info we already have in there. Now this works for us because there’s not a big variety in the types of jobs we have so they wouldn’t need to do anything new, but it must be possible to set it up so that if they have a recently rejected application, they won’t be able to apply to that same job again for a certain period of time, or a way to auto-block people who are just bad candidates for anything. Like a ‘thank you for your interest, we have your information on file… etc”

  30. Jaguar*

    I would suggest using more personal language than Alison used. Professional language like that sounds a lot like form language and would probably raise the question of if the people in charge are asking you to stop sending applications or if they were just sent a form. Unfortunately, job applicants can never be certain if what they hear from companies during the process is an actual person or a script. Scripts are easy to ignore and often have bullshit information in them (I recently implemented an application system for our newly-created HR department. Day one, she asked me to add “due to the high volume of applicants” language to the system – the high volume so far is zero).

    1. Amanda6*

      I completely agree. I don’t believe I am in the same category of applicant as LW is describing, but I have applied to the same company twice for different positions, and the second time I applied I ended up resubmitting my resume for the same position about a month after the initial application. According to an acquaintance who worked there, they had just let their hiring manager go and she advised that I send in my application again because their hiring had been a bit of a mess and she believed it may have gotten lost. When I did this, I got a rejection response less than an hour later. My contact and I were both surprised by this, but she chalked it up to their hiring being temporarily frozen. On my end, it was a completely nondescript email that read like a form response and left me no indication if they hated me and never wanted to hear from me again, or if I was welcome to try again in the future. I believe the exact words were the infamous “At this time we are not moving forward with your application” or some such.

  31. SignalLost*

    As someone in long-term job search who occasionally puts in applications at companies I have already applied to, for one reason or another (sometimes they’re agencies, sometimes they’re very large employers, sometimes I just don’t remember that I applied to company X) I honestly would appreciate feedback that my candidacy is not going to be considered by your company under any circumstances. It would help me to direct my search more appropriately. In my case, I don’t get a rejection letter from most of the jobs I apply to, and I appreciate the I have a non-niche skillset in an industry that, in my area, prefers niche skillsets, as well as a very weird resume, so it would be nice to hear from an employer that they don’t want me for some reason (though if I had no-called, no-showed three interviews I would hope I’d know what I did wrong!).

  32. Tyrion*

    Is “we are unable” (to process your application) a good substitute for “we will not”? I know that construction is widespread, but to me it seems like a transparent attempt to shift the decision elsewhere and comes off as feeble.

  33. Not So NewReader*

    I applied for a job once where I had to take a personality test of sorts. It looked like ethics to me.
    They could not tell me if I passed it or not.
    I said to the HR person, well how do I know if I should check back with you or if I have just made myself into a stalker? (It was retail, you had to nag.)
    She laughed and said she honestly did not know what I should do. I never contacted them again.

    This company is constantly hiring. I am guessing that their hiring methods are part of the problem.
    I want to just mention, later I found out they used the wrong answer sheet and NO ONE could pass the test.

    1. Mazzy*

      That is really annoying.

      First off I have to say I’m surprised that this thread has so few comments but the one on waking up early has almost 600, when that seems like a much simpler issue.

      Came here to say, I feel like that annoying repeat applier. There are two large companies in my industry I realized reading this that I’ve applied to multiple times. One interviewed me once, the other only exchanged emails with me and then said they thought I’d be disappointed with the pay (which was about the same I was making but they had a pension) and the other seemed to go well but I saw they found someone with more experience in that niche on Linkedin.

      So I didn’t bomb an interview or anything, and I’m not desperate, but if you do a niche thing and some variation of the same jobs keep coming up, I don’t see why I shouldn’t apply.

      Further, I’ve been in Teapot Distribution, Teapot Sales, Senior Teapot Program Management, New Teapot Markets, and Teapot Regulations. So there will be alot of jobs I’m qualified for and could do. It’s not like I had a low level generalist job and just apply to everything. It’s kind of frustrating.

  34. De Minimis*

    If you get that many applicants you should look into increasing the automation of the process. Our application system is web based, and it takes very little effort to review applicants. It would be easy to see “familiar” names and just not click on that applicant. No actions are required for our reviewers until they see an applicant they want to review further.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Great point. OP, if you have that many people ask them to either spend some bucks on upgrading the level of automation or spend some bucks on getting someone to help you.

      1. De Minimis*

        We’re a fairly small non-profit, so I’d guess it’s probably not that expensive to implement [the system was in place long before I got here.]

    2. Candi*

      I would do it! Even if it was just 2-6 hours a week, coming in or logging in remotely. Just give me the list of email/name no-goes and maybe-laters-but-not-now, and set folders up so I can kick them to for “hiring manager’s eyes”, “future possibilities”, and “not a snowball’s chance”. (/humor) Further sifting also a possibility. :) :p

  35. Cat steal keyboard*

    OP, I suggest you set up a system where the only way to apply for a job is by registering on your website and going through an application system. It might cost a bit to get it up and running but would save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run. Each jobseeker would have an account. This would allow them to apply once at a time for each posting. You could maybe have a way to designate people as ‘will never be hired’ and of course would continue to record the reason why.

    Then what you could do is send a canned response to anyone who sends an application by email saying you only accept applications through this system. If you have a recruitment email address set it to auto reply with that.

  36. Ella*

    Another thing to think about (I’m not sure if this was addressed in a previous comment or not) is that it’s possible that some folks who are applying are on unemployment, and must show that they’ve applied to X number of jobs per month in order to keep their unemployment benefits. I mention this because sometimes we get very incomplete job applications, or applications of poor quality, and a colleague mentioned that this might be why, which was enlightening.

  37. akcipitrokulo*

    oh, and you can be forced to take “work experience” for no pay… sometimes doing the same job at the same place you were made redundant from. The employers love it.

  38. coffepownd*

    OP #5 — I in government and our HR shops have this same problem, because the eligibility for jobs is so transparent and the application process can be extremely easy to just point and click and you’ve applied….

    To fix that problem, HR shops have begun requiring things like Statements of Qualifications, which is a separate letter of intent specific to each job that is required to be included or they will not be eligible to be interviewed. I find this more prevalent at the higher paying classifications especially–to save everyone’s time in the process, the Statement is considered Interview #1.

    If you add that to your process, I can almost guarantee you will get probably 1/4 of the total # of applications, but of much higher quality candidates who took the extra time to write about your position and how they think they will be a good fit, etc.

  39. Dan*

    Back when I had to make a claim for social security (peak of the recession) it was dependent upon making a certain number of applications per week. This meant having to make some mediocre applications for jobs I didn’t even want so as to focus my efforts on interviews I had obtained with companies I did wish to work for. A waste of time but the alternative was potential starvation.

  40. Chris*

    Honestly, I wish I had your problems – 100 applicants a month sounds like pretty easy sailing. Usually I get upwards of 100 a week for open positions, the record is closer to 50 a day. And yes, the wildly unsuitable applicants. The ones who spam every job opening. The ones who apply multiple times for the same opening on multiple places it’s posted. The ones who apply month after month, for every job.

    The ones who call you.

    That special someone who found your personal number, and has been blocked.

    The ones nobody in town will hire, whose names get mentioned with eye rolls when managers talk, because they are so notorious.

    That’s the job. Everyone’s method of dealing with it differs. I suggest you simplify your life by keeping notes and tracking applicants by name, so when you see a repeat, it takes seconds to review your past opinion.

  41. Unemployed*

    I would also like to comment that people are also obligated to apply for jobs they don’t want in order to receive unemployment benefits they’ve rightfully earned.

  42. kraza*

    So here’s my perspective as someone who used to actually do this.

    First, I had been taught the usual nonsense of “gumption” and the like. I actually walked into a small manufacturing company to apply for a job. Nobody with hiring authority was present, though I did get a gift of several USD worth of free product and people talking to me like I had done something unusual but not wrong.

    Second, I had gotten the impression that large companies using complex job application management software barely read their applications, don’t post an accurate and up to date list of jobs, use clumsy robot algorithms to sort resumes, and basically put barriers between hiring and applicants even though this didn’t help them much.

    The hope being that your resume would occasionally land on a manager (not HR drone)’s desk and they would see through the carefully crafted buzzwords (to get through the “20 years of Apple iOS developer experience” type filters) and ask for an interview.

    I was seriously considering building an automated program to send out *HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS* of the these applications so that I hopefully would get one or two interviews. Very glad I did not go that.

    I ended up getting both jobs I’ve had since college basically by networking.

  43. Tom Psillas*

    You can’t. When you post job postings, you have to accept the fact that anyone can apply.
    What you can do is ask them to answer a few interview questions. Some job posting sites have an interview questions section and you can ask the questions to be required. I found this filters out most of the candidates that are not serious. I also always require a resume.
    I also post that all unqualified resumes will be discarded and will not be considered a job application. I also add, All unqualified resumes will not be considered eligible as applying for a job for unemployment purposes and we will notify the your labor department that you attempted to apply for a position that you know you are unqualified for.
    This usually discourages unqualified applicants from wasting everyone’s time.
    The last and most expensive way is to use recruiting firms. Yes, they are expensive, but they filter out most unqualified candidates.

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