It’s by far one of the most frustrating aspects of job searching. After carefully customizing your resume and cover letter to match the specific details of the job description, you send in your job application…and nothing.
If you’re not hearing from employers, take heart in knowing that you’re not alone, dear job seeker.
There must be some sort of explanation, right? After all, your job skills, previous work experience, and overall knowledge make you a strong candidate.
If you’re not hearing back from jobs, there’s probably a reason why employers aren’t responding. In fact, there are several reasons why this might be the case.
If you’re not hearing from employers about your applications, here’s why:
Companies are doing more screening.
When you click and send your job application in to a potential employer, it sets off a chain reaction. First, your application materials are screened by resume scanners for specific keywords that assess your qualifications and requirements. It’s imperative you use the keywords found in the job description on your resume.
Then, if the scanner deems your application acceptable, an actual human at the company will review your application to see if you are a suitable candidate—and then a slew of screening occurs, in the form of background checks. Not only is the information on your job application being verified, but potential employers are also checking you out online to see what else they can find out about you.
A whopping 70% of employers are screening candidates on social media. They’re reviewing your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook page (to see what’s public and what’s not), your tweets on Twitter, what kinds of pics you like to post on Instagram and Pinterest, and so on. Anything slightly objectionable on any of your social media sites can cause you to not hear back from an employer.
There’s simply not enough time.
With a plethora of candidates applying for limited positions, hiring managers and recruiters simply don’t have enough time to respond to each and every job seeker who applies for the position. In fact, on average, for every one job opening, an employer receives 118 applications and only 20% of applicants receive interviews.
Not only that, the hiring process itself has lengthened in recent years. According to Glassdoor, the process for hiring an employee went from 12.6 days in 2010 to 22.9 days in 2014, due to various factors. So even if all you want is a “thanks, but no thanks” email to verify that someone even read your job application, many hiring managers unfortunately don’t have enough time in the day to do that.
You’re not qualified.
By all accounts, you think that you’re more than qualified for the position. But when a potential employer reads your resume and cover letter, they may have a different opinion. For whatever reason it might be (e.g., you don’t have the necessary skills, you’re missing a particular certification required for the job, your cover letter had grammatical errors, etc.), you’re just not the right person for the position. But technically, a company might not legally be able to tell you what’s wrong, so the employer likely won’t respond to your application.
Candidates don’t always commit “obvious” mistakes.
On the counter side of the previous point, you may not have made any glaring mistakes or been under-qualified. Hiring is often subjective. It’s possible that one candidate was more likable than you, or they answered questions with better examples. It’s more likely that a candidate wasn’t hired because of an obvious mistake, but rather a lot of little ones. It is simply that another person did better, and since you weren’t part of the other candidate’s interview, it makes it difficult for hiring managers to provide this feedback without seeming arbitrary.
It’s not a one-person decision.
Although you’re sending in your job application to one person, many people may review it before the decision is made to contact you for a job interview. And as your job application passes from one person to the next, it might be that Hiring Manager A loved your application, but Manager B hated it. Since a hiring manager can’t tell you that one of their colleagues didn’t like your application, it’s likely that the employer won’t respond to your calls or emails.
You submitted your application the wrong way.
First, you’ll want to double check that you’ve applied for the job the correct way. Seems obvious, but it’s an easy mistake to make. For example, you may have emailed your resume and other application materials when it clearly states in the job posting that everything should be submitted through their application portal. Maybe you didn’t catch that instruction the first time around…but don’t fret. If you realize you made a mistake along the way, do what you can to remedy the situation (i.e., reapply and send a brief apology note to the hiring manager explaining what happened).
You didn’t customize your application to the open position.
In today’s tough job market, every resume should be crafted in response to the requested experience and responsibilities listed in the job description. You’ll want to take the time to tailor your resume—as well as your cover letter and any other application materials—to the job at hand. This not only helps you avoid the resume black hole and make it through the applicant tracking system, but also shows the employer you are truly interested in the job and are willing to put in the work to prove it. Not customizing your application can make you appear lazy…and that’s never the message you want to send.
Providing feedback has legal and liability implications.
While it would certainly be beneficial for a candidate to get feedback from potential employers, it is rare for someone being interviewed to receive specific feedback on how they did because of the legal implications involved and the potential liability the person sharing the information might incur. Hiring managers may want to provide more information, but their hands are tied. This is often one of the leading reasons why employers don’t respond to job applications.
They want to hire someone they know or who comes recommended.
Sure, you wrote a personalized cover letter that had just the right mix of professional and personal anecdotes. Your social media accounts are primed for perusing by a potential employer. You would think that you’ve given your prospective boss a good enough glimpse into your personality. But still, hiring managers might view you as a garden-variety job candidate.
Many HR professionals do not reply to general applicants as they may see them as third- or fourth-tier quality job leads. Often the best people to hire are ones that the company has worked with before, and the second best are those who are recommended by people they know and respect. Getting a recommendation from a current or former employee can make all the difference in getting your application moved to the top of the pile.
So, what should you do if you’re not hearing from employers on your application?
If you’re applying to jobs but not hearing back, take the time to assess the situation. If only a few days have passed since you submitted your application, you’ll need to give it some more time. If it’s been over a week, it’s perfectly acceptable to send a follow-up email or phone call to ensure that your application was actually received. But if a month goes by and you still don’t hear back, you might want to consider changing your resume and cover letter, adjusting your social media presence, and focusing on your personal brand before applying for other positions.
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Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
This is a version of a post that was originally published August 4, 2015 and previously updated on January 3, 2019.
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