Our editor, social media manager, Jill of all-that-keeps-things-together, is leaving us for a fabulous contract with long-term potential in the Middle East offices of a Fortune 500 company.

We can’t be mad because this is what she, the anthropologist with a master’s degree from The London School of Economics, is meant to do… and it’s a fabulous opportunity to boot! Sadness, however, cannot be denied as she has wound her way into our hearts while advancing the CareerFuel cause.

Nothing rattles a lean startup more than the loss of a key employee. In a nanosecond, calm turns to fear as the CEO worries that identifying a replacement will distract from the strategic and business development needs.

Like any other entrepreneur, I called upon my network, placed ads and said my prayers.

Overnight, a slew of emails were received and within days I was fortunate to have narrowed it down to several high quality candidates. But here is my dilemma: several emails/responses came without a resume, contained numerous typos or grammatical errors, were improperly formatted because they were not saved as a PDF or were too perfunctory, like this one:

Are you still in need of a social media manager? If so I would love to hear more details.
– Chris

Here’s the question I am confronted by every time I hire: should I hit delete? Or say no thank you and provide constructive feedback?

CareerFuel is a destination site created to help job seekers get jobs. We offer a treasure trove of success stories, advice and resources. Our goal is to arm everyone in our audience with the traits and strategies they need to get a job offer. I have spent years and considerable money investing in the success of others… but does that give me the right to critique candidates who apply to CareerFuel?

When I worked for major multinational companies, the unspoken rule was to avoid specifics when firing or not hiring—don’t risk any backlash that could become a distraction or, even worse, a legal dispute. But how can job seekers learn and improve if no one is willing to take a risk and let people know how they are shooting themselves in the foot?

The few times I have taken the risk and given feedback have been met with mixed results. One candidate unliked us on Facebook. Two emailed with genuine thank yous. Several were never heard from again.

Job candidates are overwhelmed by a highly fragmented, job search market and process. Doing everything right is hard work, particularly when most of a job seeker’s efforts are met with quiet—no response to a resume submitted, an email sent, a LinkedIn in mail request, etc.

If you are a job seeker, how would you like it to be handled by the hiring managers who say no? Are you willing to get feedback? Would you find it constructive? Would you check “yes” if the job ad said “check this box if you are interested in feedback about your resume, cover letter, or email?”

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