Not Hearing from Employers About Your Applications? Here’s Why
“This is one of the most common questions we hear from clients,” says Brie Reynolds, former Career Development Manager and Coach at FlexJobs. “It can be frustrating and confusing to send out applications and not hear back. People tend to immediately assume the worst.”
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 about jobs you’ve applied to, there’s probably a reason why employers aren’t responding. In fact, there are several reasons why this might be the case.
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Here’s Why You Might Not Hear Back From Employers
– 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 applicant tracking systems 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 ATS 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 average process for hiring an employee is about 23.8 days, 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 may just not be 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 Make “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 meshed better with the hiring manager, or they answered questions with more relevant examples.
It’s more likely that a candidate wasn’t hired because of an obvious mistake, but rather a lot of little ones. It could simply be 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 thought it was missing important qualifications.
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 cover letter and resume to the job at hand.
This not only helps you 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 it look like you aren’t putting in effort—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’s 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 are looking to hire applicants who have worked with the company before, or who are recommended by people they know and respect. A recommendation from a current or former employee can make all the difference in getting your application moved to the top of the pile.
What to Do If You’re Not Hearing Back
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 follow up on a job application by email or phone to ensure that it 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.