The Art of the Auto-Reply: Responding to Job Applicants

 

If you read our earlier “Test Your Own Job Application” article, then you know that the last step of the test involves the auto-reply message. To some, the auto-reply is a small formality. Not to us. Let’s go deeper into the auto-reply to review ways to connect with applicants.

Yes, your auto-reply message to a job applicant matters—maybe even more than you think.

Consider the applicant’s point-of-view for a moment. If they’ve applied for a job via your automated system, they’ve probably spent some time on your website, got to know the facts about your company, and perhaps even started following your company on social media. They’ve decided that things look and sound like a good fit for their next career move.

Most likely, up until the moment they click “send” on their job application, it’s been a one-way relationship. The auto-reply will be the first time the job seeker has received anything from your company back to them.

Sure, a generic auto-reply is acceptable, but you can also use it as a way to differentiate your company. According to a recent report on HR recruiting trends, company culture is the #1 thing candidates wish they knew about your organization before they accept a job offer.  Why not use this opportunity to make a great first impression?

The auto-reply tells job applicants that there’s a human on the other end of the process.

Whether you’re reviewing an existing auto-reply, or creating a new one, now is a good time to consider your language and tone. If your marketing department has developed brand guidelines, by all means consult them before writing your auto-reply. If you have a copywriter in your organization, reach out and have them assist in the development of your auto-reply content.

Short of that, there are a few ways you can keep the tone both personable and professional.

  • Opt for an active sentence structure, rather than passive. (Active: “We have forwarded your email…” Passive: “Your email has been forwarded…”) The active voice is warmer, and has a little more personality.
  • Keep sentences short and conversational. For example: “A member of our HR department will be in touch,” as opposed to, “Shortly each applicant will be receiving an email reply from a member of human resources division.”
  • Provide some general information about what happens next in the process. Job applicants will appreciate having a sense of next steps. An example may read like this: “Expect to hear from us within the next two weeks. We will provide you with an update of your application status at that time.” And if you go this route, remember that white space is your friend. Compose your note as a series of stand-alone sentences, rather than a blocky paragraph. Your readers will appreciate the chance to scan.

Here are a few other ways you can make sure your auto-reply to job applicants is working for them and for your company.

  1. Personalize the message as much as possible. Depending on your email configuration, and how your auto-reply is synched up with the job application, you may be able to personalize your auto-reply by including the candidate’s name, and the job title they’ve applied for in your reply message.
  2. Include ways for applicants to find out more about your brand. Not all of your job applicants will have started following your company’s social media feed, signed up for your e-newsletter, or read the last blog post. The auto-reply is a great way to invite them to do so. Include social icons, links to your website, or e-newsletter buttons in order to deepen a potential employee’s connection with your company.
  3. Add a small degree of professional networking. Include links to other job posts, and provide them with a way to forward posts to friends or colleagues who might be interested.

 More than anything, remember that the person on the receiving end is connecting with your company—quite possibly for the first time. While an auto-reply is automated, it’s still a chance to show that your company is human.