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Sunday, June 27, 2010

does "we'll keep your resume on file" really mean anything?

A reader writes:

In most of the jobs where I've been interviewed and rejected the rejection letter says something like "We will hold on to your resume and contact you if we ever have any jobs that meets your needs" or something like this. Is this just being polite or is it possible that some time down the road they will actually contact me with an offer?

Well, it's highly unlikely they'll contact you out of the blue with an offer. But they might contact you with an invitation to apply for another position.

That said, this statement has become part of the standard pablum that a lot of companies include in their rejection letters and, more often than not, has little meaning. On the other hand, some companies do mean it and do search previously submitted resumes looking for well-matched candidates when they have new openings.

So the answer is unsatisfying: Sometimes they mean it and sometimes they don't.

(For what it's worth, I think the phrase has become so meaningless that I've started saying this in the rejection letter I send to candidates who I think would be promising for the future, since I want them to know I really mean it: "We are keeping your materials on file and will notify you about future openings that seem like they might be a good fit. We only keep on file the materials of strong candidates, so please take this as an indicator of our interest in talking further with you in the future.")

But either way, I would put them out of your mind and move on. If they do contact you in the future, let it be a pleasant surprise, rather than something you wait for (as it may never happen, no matter what their intentions).


Anonymous said...

Recently I received a response from an employer stating they would keep my resume on file for THREE YEARS, which made me laugh.

Either they disliked my resume so much that they were just trying to keep me from resending my resume to them, or they have a really unproductive policy. I can't imagine that contacting any applicant after three years would offer them any success. Surely even in this economy, in three years most applicants will have found employment elsewhere, and their qualifications and expectations will surely have changed.

Anonymous said...

In the last year I have hired 2 people that I first spoke to about positions over a year ago. One said that he decided to stay in his current position and was no longer looking. When an opportunity came around again, I reached out to him and he was ready to move. Another was a strong second choice for a job. When an internal promotion opened up the same position again, I contacted him. He had found another job, but HATED it, so he was excited about the chance. Both were very happy that I held on to their resumes, so it does happen sometimes. It's not always just being polite!

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why lots of employers don't respond to applicants. Unless you're blunt (which can come off rude) people want to see somthing that's not there. It's kind of like when you go on a date and say "don't call me, I'll call you.". It's closure-it's meant to end the communications without saying "unless I'm desperate I won't call you." Most good employers have such an endless stream of great candidates they never have to sift through old resumes. And no, a few of you whining about not hearing anything is going to change that. frankly, I don't care if you badmouth my company to your friends. If I didn't hire you I probably wouldn't hire them either.

Jacob Share said...

It's a white lie- it makes life easier for the person telling it, it can't be disproven by the recipient, and who knows, it might turn to be true in the end.

So don't pay any attention to it.

KellyK said...

I like AAM's reply. Sometimes it means something, sometimes it doesn't. Either way, you may as well move on. Maybe they don't call because they never look at old resumes, maybe they don't call because they have no openings. Or maybe they call and it's a moot point because you have another job.

I have been rejected for jobs and then been called later about another position, so it does happen.

Anonymous said...

There are various state and federal laws that require employers to hold onto resumes. Many include this line to be in compliance with those regulations.

Amy said...

zThe OP didn't state whether it was an electronic or paper version of their resume. Paper resumes are a pain to go back through for future openings - it can be done but it's time consuming and cumbersome. If it was an electronic copy, you might stand a better chance - it's quick to run a search of a resume database or ATS and it's easy to sort the results. A lot of companies set it up as a "profile" where the candidate can log back in whenever they want to and update their info, etc. Many companies also allow you to enable a feature that generates an email to you when something relevant opens up. Keeping a resume on file can be a little bit of a two-way street if you do it right.

Anonymous said...

OP here.
I was asking this about a variety of resumes I'm submitted, some electronic, some on paper. This question wasn't is response to a particular rejection letter but a more general question.