Photo by Ryan Wagner / North by Northwestern

If you are like the thousands of other Northwestern students searching for jobs and internships for this summer, you’ve probably received an email similar to the one above. It’s short. It’s sweet. It’s a signal that you have completed one more application out of the 20 you have left to do.  

Of course, once you’ve sent your application into the hands (or AI resume screening tools like Ideal) of the company’s talent acquisition department, this confirmation email might very well be the last time you hear about your application.  This is because, as is highlighted in the email above, companies may never reach out again unless you are the type of candidate they are looking for.  In effect, and contrary to how millennials are ghosting companies (those damn millennials), the company ghosts you.  

Granted, with potentially thousands of applications for a single intern or job position, it’s understandable that companies don’t send personalized emails to let you know that they are not pursuing your application further. However, this was never the expectation of applicants to begin with; we don’t need an answer specially tailored to us, we just want an answer, period. More often than not, I find out that I have not received the position or have even been considered for the next round of interviews when I see friends and colleagues on LinkedIn announcing their acceptance of the exact position to which I applied. This doesn’t exactly leave a nice taste in my mouth regarding the company’s recruitment process and certainly makes me reconsider whether I will reapply in the future.  

Whether my decision to apply or not matters to a massive corporation with endless hopeful applications to consider, the answer is quite obvious, but for smaller companies, this could be damaging for talent acquisition. Why would I recommend someone to apply to that company if the recruitment process is unresponsive? What does this say about the way the company treats its employees, at least from an external surface-level perspective? Furthermore, is it so tenuous a task for talent acquisition departments to automatically send a rejection email when candidates are no longer under consideration? Universities have been doing this for years, so there is a long-standing precedent.  


Considering Northwestern Career Advancement advocates so strongly for students to maintain correspondence after interviews and networking to demonstrate continued interest in companies and people, it would be a professional courtesy for companies and HR departments to return the favor by at least telling us when they have decided to move on to other candidates. We’re adults; if there is anything that the culture of Northwestern has taught me, it’s facing rejection and developing the skills to accept such rejection and move forward.