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I applied for a position in a company website. A week later I received an e-mail with instructions on how to proceed with the interview process; which involves getting back to them.

No explicit e-mail address was provided for that matter. The e-mail was sent through a recruiting platform that uses disposable/temporary e-mail addresses, masking the real address (i.e., using time stamps, alphanumeric characters, etc).

In my experience so far, I have been approached by specific HR people and talked directly to them. Thus my feel was that this is a "no-reply" e-mail [typically non-existing addresses resulting in bounced mail] and a) a real address is missing; or b) no explicit reply e-mail has been provided for some other reason. On the other hand, another applicant in the past had access to a specific e-mail (a contact person) to get back.

From your experience, is this a common practice that you have noticed -- and is the candidate expected to reply to such address, or is it better to try to reach a real HR person directly?

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    Have you tried replying to the e-mail? Generated addresses can be no-reply or set up to collect replies. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 31 '16 at 2:16
  • @PatriciaShanahan - I get from your comment that this is normal practice. Is it safe to rely on this e-mail and invest time on doing some work I am to send back? Note: a person I know applied before and had access to some insider's e-mail to send back his work. My impression was that a no-reply e-mail might have been used to subtly reject some candidates. – Kiddo Jul 31 '16 at 2:35
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    I don't know whether it is normal practice or not for hiring. The last time I got a job by cold application was in 1970, long before widespread use of e-mail. I am just saying that you can't tell whether the e-mail goes to a real mailbox or not by its form. Generally, if someone says "reply to this address" I would assume it is connected to a mailbox. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 31 '16 at 2:50
  • I've replied to dozens of these types of emails (which come through services like Jobvite) and they are connected to a real mailbox. – jj080808 Aug 1 '16 at 21:54
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They are using a system which generates email addresses for two reasons:

  • So that they shield the HR individual's name and prevent direct queries
  • So that they can track all of your correspondence automatically

Just reply to the sending address.

It's becoming increasingly common with some (particularly larger) companies and some resume-tracking systems. As @ChrisG points out in his comment - some smaller companies use these systems, too.

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    As a hiring manager at a small company, I used Monster and ZipRecruiter to handle job postings and they both behave this way. Simply reply to the email and it will go to the appropriate person/people. – Chris G Aug 2 '16 at 19:58
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Follow the instructions in the email that you received. If there is anything that is a test it is can you follow instructions.

I would respond to the email and then follow up with a call to HR if you do not receive any response in a week. My recommendation would be to frame my follow up call as "I received and responded to the email but wanted to see if there is any additional information needed" rather than "I received a email but wasn't sure what to do about it"

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in my experience, this is not common practice. if a company is serious about hiring someone, they would make an effort to make themselves reachable and provide sufficient information to achieve that. either by having a phone number at the end of the email, a person's name, a reference number to use for correspondences.

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