When I was six, my teacher decided we would form our own version of ABBA for the mid-year school play. I was confident, having starred as the fairy in the start-of-year play and having spent many hours practicing in front of the mirror with my sister and a hairbrush (used as a microphone). I insisted on auditioning for the part of Agnetha (the blonde one), which could have been my mistake, since I wasn’t blonde. I didn’t get the part. I could have handled that perhaps, but I wasn’t even told I didn’t get the part. Several of us only heard about it once the teacher produced posters with the successful candidates’ names. To top it off, none of us were offered any other opportunities. Although it’s not as traumatic as my ABBA experience, some people have the same problem when they apply for IT jobs. They have interviews and never hear anything back. Sometimes they hear they’re unsuccessful and they’ll be kept in mind for other positions, but, again, no word. I’ve received emails from readers saying some recruitment agencies don’t even return their initial phone calls. One reader who moved to New Zealand from the US says she called numerous Wellington agencies for interviews. She eventually faxed and mailed her resume, but most agencies replied with a letter, usually signed by someone’s secretary, to say they had nothing for her at that time — there was "no expression of interest or a desire to maintain contact". At a time when there’s a skill shortage, such an attitude isn’t good enough. I spoke to some agencies about the problem and they all agreed that losing track of candidates is a danger when you have a huge database of job seekers and they all have different ways of trying to ensure people don’t get lost in the system. MBT (formerly Compuforce) account manager Perry Macdonald says MBT handles it by having a resources team, which is only responsible for candidate care. A system produces an activity report each month which ensures that people who were unsuccessful for one position will be contacted to see if they have found a position and if not, whether they are still looking. "We also have a lot of system matching. Candidates are put in the database and are automatically matched against a role if their skills suit." Recruitment firm Resource Edge is also tackling the problem with a new role — candidate champion. Tracey White has been in the role for five weeks and focuses solely on the interests of candidates; developing personal marketing plans, looking for a good fit with the culture of possible employers and how careers can progress in the future. She says the role ensures cohesion between all consultants. "Someone knows exactly who’s gone where, what they’re doing and makes sure the candidates aren’t getting left out or falling into a black hole." Director of Wilson White Associates Doug White says the potential to lose candidates is high if they’re not looked after. He says that can happen if a CV comes in by email and is directed to a consultant and that consultant, for whatever reason, neglects to ensure the person is logged into the system. Consultants are responsible for ensuring individuals are coded correctly and go into the database but that can become time-consuming if an advertisement brings a flood of applications, he says. The way to solve that is to run a more targeted advertisement, which will only yield half a dozen good replies. He says the problem of candidates being interviewed more than once is eliminated when an individual is coded into the system. People don’t need to re-send in their CV for every different job, as they will already be in the system. Mills is Computerworld’s careers editor and can be contacted at email@example.com or ph: 03-467-2869 or fax: 0-3-467 2875.