You've created a compelling resume, updated your LinkedIn profile, spent hours browsing job boards, and applied for several suitable positions. It looks like half of the job is done, and you just need to wait a bit. So you wait...and wait...and wait. But nothing happens. You never hear anything back from employers.
As annoying as this situation can be, it is quite common. According to one FlexJobs survey, 42 percent of job seekers named unresponsive employers among the most frustrating aspects of the search process.
Why do so many companies not reply to job applications? And is there anything you can do to improve your chances of getting an interview? Let's find out!
Ten Reasons Why You Don't Hear Back after Job Applications
To better deal with this stressful situation, it is essential to understand why an employer might not respond to your application. Here is a brief overview of the most common reasons:
#1 Recruiters don’t have the capacity to answer everyone.
The most obvious explanation is that recruiters and hiring managers simply don't have time to answer every rejected candidate individually. According to Glassdoor data, each corporate job, on average, attracts 250 resumes. Large companies usually use special software to automate the hiring process, and such software can be set to send automated emails to each applicant. However, smaller organizations may not have this kind of system and lack the resources to send hundreds of responses.
#2 You didn't customize your application.
One-size-fits-all resumes and cover letters don't work. Employers want to see that you are fully qualified for the position and, at the same time, genuinely interested in it. Therefore, it is essential to read job ads carefully and customize your application to highlight the experiences and skills necessary for the particular role. Not only does this approach help you pass through applicant tracking systems that automatically evaluate if a candidate meets all requirements, but it also demonstrates that you are taking the opportunity seriously and are willing to invest your time to create documents specifically for this job opening.
#3 You did not follow the instructions.
If a job posting clearly states that candidates must apply through a form at the company's career page and you send an email, your chances of receiving a response are close to zero. Recruiters will likely ignore applications submitted in the wrong way. That is why it is crucial to make sure that you follow all instructions, including those about resume format or additional documents.
#4 There are too many typos and grammar mistakes in your resume.
Even when you are perfectly qualified for the job, employers might not consider you if your resume and cover letter are full of mistakes and typos. This study from CareerBuilder shows that 77 percent of recruiters will reject an applicant with poor grammar. So proofread all your documents, whether the job you are applying for requires writing skills or not.
#5 You don't have the required qualifications.
Another common reason why hiring managers don't respond to you is that you lack one or more credentials necessary for the role. It might be that you are missing a certification or have a degree in a different field than what is stated in the job ad. That doesn't mean you must only apply for the positions where you meet 100 percent of the requirements, though. Some skills might be more critical for an employer than others, and the company might be willing to teach you a couple of missing skills if you are a good fit for the team otherwise. Just be ready for the fact that you might not receive any answers for such applications when recruiters have enough fully qualified candidates.
#6 The position has already been filled.
Sometimes you do not receive a response from recruiters because they have already found someone for the role and just haven't managed to take the job posting down. That is why it is essential to monitor job boards regularly and apply for suitable positions right after they have been posted. This study by Ladders found that candidates' chances of hearing back from an employer drastically decrease if they don't apply within 72 after a job is published.
#7 The company’s hiring plans have changed.
The employer might decide not to hire anyone for the position. There can be different reasons for such a change in plans: budget cuts, corporate reorganization, project closure, a temporary hiring freeze, etc. There is nothing you can do about any of these situations, so the best approach is to never rely on a single application. Keep sending your resumes to other companies until you have a definite job offer.
#8 Your social media behavior scares employers away.
Another CareerBuilder survey shows that 70 percent of hiring managers use social media to screen candidates. And yes, something you've posted on Facebook or Twitter can be a reason for not hearing back from an employer. According to the latest Jobvite report, the biggest red flags for recruiters are:
- Poor grammar and spelling errors
- References to marijuana
- Alcohol consumption
- Political posts
- Provocative pictures
So before applying for jobs, it might be a good idea to evaluate your social media presence and adjust privacy settings for some posts if needed.
#9 A company has a policy of not providing feedback.
Sometimes, even if you do hear back from a recruiter, it is only a generic message: "We decided to proceed with another candidate." While more personalized feedback would be beneficial for job seekers, some companies have a policy of never providing it, as they want to avoid potential lawsuits from unsuccessful applicants. This is another common reason why many employers choose to skip responding altogether.
#10 The company's hiring process takes longer than expected.
Hiring managers might want to collect more applications before starting the interview process. Or maybe some additional screenings and background checks are running. The exact amount of time it takes to hear back also depends on the volume of received applications, the company's urgency to fill the position, and the complexity of the hiring process. In any case, it’s unrealistic to expect a response in the first week after sending a resume.
As you can see, the reasons for not hearing back after applying for a job can vary. Although some of them are entirely out of your control, there are certain steps you can take to improve your chances of getting noticed by recruiters. We’ll discuss some of them in the next section.
Five Things to Do If You Don't Hear Back about Your Job Application
The job search process requires a lot of patience. You might have to apply for a dozen positions and wait for several weeks until receiving a response. And while you are waiting, it is a good idea to make sure that some regrettable mistake does not prevent you from getting an interview or that you are not missing the opportunity to land a new job faster. Here are a few ideas of what you can do:
#1 Double-check the contact information on your resume.
The first thing to do is to eliminate the possibility that hiring managers are actually trying to reach you but there is a typo in your email address or telephone number. Such a mistake is fatal for the job search yet quite easy to make. And that is why it is worth having a second pair of eyes read over your resume before submitting it. A friend or a family member might notice minor errors you've missed.
#2 Browse job boards regularly and apply for multiple postings.
Prepare yourself that searching for a job is a job in itself. It requires time and consistent effort. You might want to book a couple of hours per day in your calendar to browse job boards, customize your resume and cover letter for positions that interest you, and submit documents. This approach will allow you to always be among the first applicants.
#3 Clean up your social media pages.
Make sure that your social media pages are ready for recruiters' visits. Adjust privacy settings where needed, consider changing your profile image, and be more conscious about the content you post. For example, if you are looking for a managerial role in a financial institution, it would be wise to share photos from yesterday's wild party only with close friends. Another thing to remember is that besides your current LinkedIn profile or Facebook page, a hiring manager can come across your Myspace account that you have not used for the past ten years. So it’s a good idea to check what people can see there too.
#4 Don't underestimate networking.
One of the most effective ways to be noticed by a hiring manager is to get a referral from someone who already works in the company. That is why it is important to invest in your career network. The more people in your industry you know, the higher your chances of finding a new job quickly. Use LinkedIn, attend industry conferences, and join professional organizations. Such connections might help you get a referral to a company where you want to work or provide you with information about job opportunities that never get posted.
#5 Set your expectations right.
Maybe there are such rare people who apply for a single opening and immediately get hired. For most of us, though, a job search is a numbers game. We need to send dozens of resumes. Studies show that, on average, it takes between 21 and 80 job applications to get an offer. And we need to be prepared that some of those applications will remain unanswered. While it’s easy to lose motivation when you’re not getting the results you were hoping for, staying consistent is essential.
And finally, you can follow up with recruiters by calling or sending an email. It's probably not worth the time and effort to do so for every position you've applied for; however, if there is a job for which you are willing to go the extra mile to get a chance to be hired, you can do it. It is perfectly acceptable to send a polite email about a week or two after submitting your resume where you remind the recruiter that you are excited about the opportunity and ask about the status of your application.
As you can see, there are many different reasons why you don't hear back after applying for a job. And yes, you want to make sure that you are not making any obvious mistakes preventing you from getting an interview. You have to accept, however, that some things are simply out of your control. Don't worry too much about unresponsive employers, move forward, and keep applying. Your dream job might be waiting for you right around the corner.