Here’s the answer: Some do, most don’t today. In pre-Internet days, if you applied for a job and didn’t get the offer, more than likely you received a form rejection letter from HR that stated something like, “We will keep your résumé on file for XX months…” It’s probable that a real person reviewed that résumé as well.
I once got a great job with Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector in Austin in 1994 because a hiring manager I interviewed with in early 1993 held on to my résumé and forwarded to the hiring manager that hired me as a project team leader. They did it the Old School way.
It’s a different story today for the most part. Once the dumping ground for solicited and unsolicited résumés and job applications, many medium and large HR departments have been forced to devote more resources to implementing Federal employment law and related legislation; talent retention and training; HR information systems; implementing and managing the Affordable Care Act; and employee benefit/assistance/compensation packages; employment/recruitment/placement; and so on. More and more today, résumé screening gets relegated to jobbots (software applications also called applicant tracking systems), and rejection letters (or email) just are too far down the list of “things to do.”
Why do some companies make the promise to hold on to your résumé for a few months (or even years)? There are a few possibilities:
- They really will hold on to your résumé if you in fact made the hiring manager’s “short list”
- They may keep it to see if you’d be a good fit for a different position in the company
- If the promise is to keep your résumé for a few years, it’s possible that your résumé may be so bad that they don’t what to hear from you for future positions.
- They make the empty promise in rejection letters as a practice
Hiring managers are under increasing pressure to do a better job identifying stellar talent because the cost (and paperwork) of hiring the wrong person is skyrocketing. Besides managing projects and teams as a first priority, the manager with hiring responsibility first spends around 10 seconds scanning the top 2/3 of page 1. If there’s nothing there to grab the hiring manager’s interest, he or she’s off to the next candidate résumé.
If your cover letter states that you’re “looking forward to hearing from you soon…” you may be waiting awhile. Don’t let grass grow under you; you have to keep moving forward even if you think the company/hiring manager/HR will keep your résumé on file. If they do contact you down the road, it will likely be an email or a phone call so be sure that information on your cover letter and résumé is correct and current. A swift response will be in your best interest (don’t expect a company today to put a 50-cent stamp on a letter and send it through snail mail – that’s Old School!).
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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies: Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.
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