Feeling Ignored? Why Don’t Airlines Respond to Job Seekers?

Have you ever submitted a job application and feared that it has entered the abyss?  That you might never hear back from the airline you have your heart set on working for?  It turns out you’re not alone and it’s the one sure thing to annoy job seekers.

Of course, airlines aren’t the only culprits at failing to respond or update applicants but it seems that some of the biggest and best airlines in the world are the worst offenders.

In a survey conducted by StartWire, it was revealed that 77% of job applicants felt less about a company that did not respond to their application.  And the bad news for airlines that fail to respond continues; 72% would be deterred from recommending or speaking positively of the company online and 52% even said they would think twice about buying the products or services from companies that failed to reply to their job application.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  All the major airlines make use of Applicant Tracking System’s (ATS).  For you and me that’s the way we submit and update our application via the airline’s recruitment website.  For the airline, the ATS is designed to filter and track applicants through the entire recruitment journey – from initial application right through to onboarding (joining the company).

A good ATS can make the business of selecting and hiring staff quicker and more organised for even the busiest of HR departments.  So why are applicants still not hearing back?

It’s been revealed in the last few weeks that wannabe cabin crew at Emirates have been waiting months without any formal update having reached the final stages of the recruitment process.  Some applicants haven’t even received any correspondence from the airline at all.  A number of those trapped in this unfortunate situation have described feeling like their life is on hold as they wait to hear what has happened to their application.

A similar situation at fellow UAE-based flydubai has also been reported by cabin crew applicants over the last few months.

However, with a properly set up ATS and good workflow practices in place, no applicant should be left in the dark or putting their life on hold as they wait for news.

Some airlines do appear to be recognising and responding to the needs of their job applicants.  A British Airways cabin crew wannabe who applied in 2016 described his recruitment experience with the airline:

“After I submitted my online application I had an email the next day that said I had reached the next round and invited me to complete psychometric and numeracy tests.”

He continued:

“Just two days later I actually had a phone call from a recruiter to confirm some of the details on my CV and inviting me to an assessment day.”

He said he was routinely updated and informed of the progress of his application.

For some airline’s this may not seem important as they continue to attract the very best talent from a global pool of applicants.  But as seen in the StartWire survey, complacency in the HR department could directly affect the success of the business.

Alienating your very best brand advocates – the people who want to work for you – may result in a loss of potential customers and negative feedback shared among a wider community of friends and family.

There are simple ways that any airline can improve the communication flow with job seekers.  A good start would be to review and update the auto email replies sent out at different stages of the recruitment journey.  These should be honest and detailed enough to give the applicant faith in what they are being told.

An even better improvement would be to add a layer of personalisation to these updates.  This might seem arduous for HR departments sifting through huge numbers of applications but a proper workflow could easily resolve this issue.  Some organisations might even consider providing some form of feedback to their applicants just like at Norwegian Air Shuttle.

Whichever method is chosen, the benefits of delivering regular, timely and honest updates to job seekers could be handsome; building trust in the recruitment process and maintaining a good relationship with the airlines greatest supporters.

Prepare Your Cabin Crew Application:

Mateusz Maszczynski

Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.

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