Eagerly sending your resume to the perfect job posting or trying to contact recruiters – but not getting a response?
If you’re wondering whether your application traveled into a black hole, you have plenty of company.
Many job seekers report similar experiences, with reactions ranging from despair to frustration with employers. Can’t they at least acknowledge your message?
Why don’t recruiters take the time to call you back? What can you do to avoid wondering where you stand?
Before reading too much into the lack of responses, take a look at these common reasons for employer and recruiter silence – along with ways to circumvent the black hole:
1) Anticipate facing a massive amount of competition when applying to ads.
Hundreds to thousands of career inquiries pour into employer job portals every week (a phenomenon common since the dawn of the economic meltdown). With this volume, many employers have turned to automatic resume screening systems (also called Applicant Tracking Systems or ATS) to help mitigate the flood. Considering that type of screening could be in place, if the job requires that you have specific qualifications and certifications then get them (from an onsite training course or a site like theknowledgeacademy.com) and list them.
While some systems may provide an “application accepted” message from an employer website, other career sites might lack the sophistication needed to let you know what’s happening with your resume. As a result, you could be left waiting while (or if) your application was routed to the hiring manager.
To avoid the waiting game, always follow up with an actual person to ensure your resume was received. Start by identifying the hiring manager (1-2 levels up from the target position) and send this person a LinkedIn note or email. You can also contact the company’s HR department.
State in your inquiry that you’ve applied through the regular channels, and you’re now following up to ensure your application is under review. You may secure an interview this way, especially in cases where you’re well-qualified and the manager didn’t see your resume come through the system.
If nothing else, following up can help you understand the path your application has traveled – and keep you focused on moving forward with other opportunities.
2) Realize it’s the system, not you.
If your application is rejected, you won’t find out if employers are keeping your resume on file for future openings, or if you’re really not a good fit at that company. Both these scenarios take place on a regular basis.
Even when you follow up with employers, they may not have the staff or technology in place to respond to your query. In addition, there are legal ramifications for companies who issue a “rejected” message, as this can trigger more inquiries or even lawsuits.
Companies sometimes post jobs for which they’ve already identified the prime candidate, and simply collect resumes for pending opportunities.
So, what’s the best strategy? Sometimes you can find out where you stand, and other times, it’s best to move on after following up once or twice. Rather than assuming a negative reaction on the part of employers (and spend your valuable time chasing down a response), you’ll get better results from minimizing online job search in your overall plan.
Networking, participating in trade industry groups, or authoring publications in your field all draw positive attention and demonstrate your brand value to employers, making you as “real” and authentic as possible.
The best strategy for standing out? Identifying target employers and pursuing them with focused communications that speak to their needs, rather than playing the waiting game.
3) Expect recruiters to focus on their clients first.
While skilled candidates are important to recruiters, client employers are the ones who foot the bill – so recruiters spend most of their time chasing down the perfect, unique fit for an open job.
In addition, independent recruiting agencies or boutique recruiters often lack the bandwidth to issue a personal reply to your query (which can be one of dozens per day).
What does this mean for you? Even if your background is fantastic, it still may not match a particular job requirement. Even so, your best move is to stay on a recruiter’s radar (via an occasional call or email) to cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship. Your next opportunity may depend on it!
In summary, while there are many reasons your job application may not receive a response, you’ll need to focus on making personal contacts and staying in the game.
Your ability to build a credible industry presence, combined with regular relationship-building and follow-up, may just help employers realize you’re the right person for the job.