Top 5 Reasons Why you Never Hear Back After Applying for a Job and How to Avoid the Resume Black Hole

People often wonder why they never hear anything back after they hit ‘send’ on the email with a resume attached or on the on-line job application. If you’re very lucky, you might have a preliminary email exchange with a recruiter and then never hear from them again. It’s a depressing experience, and one which also casts a shadow on the hiring company’s reputation. So why does it happen? Is it you, is it them, or is it just something every candidate must prepare for in the hiring process?
Many HR managers and recruiters complain that as many as 50 percent of people applying for a given job simply aren’t qualified. Adding to the challenge, most large companies – and many smaller ones – use talent-management software to screen resumes, weeding out up to 50 percent of applicants before a human even looks at a resume or cover letter. The deck is definitely stacked against the job seeker. So how do you break through and Avoid the Resume Black Hole?

Here are the Top 5 Reasons You’re Not Hearing Back After Applying for a Job:

1. You really aren’t qualified. If a job description specifies a software developer with 3-5 years of experience and you’re a recent graduate with one internship, it’s unlikely you’ll get a call. Avoid disappointment – don’t apply for jobs for which you lack qualifications. Most job descriptions are written with very specific requirements. Yes, the company is trying to find the most qualified candidate; yes, they are trying to weed people out. It’s not personal, it’s business.

2. You haven’t keyword-optimized your resume or application. Job descriptions are salted with keywords specific to the skills or attributes the company seeks in applicants. A close read of the job description is a necessity, as is keyword-optimizing your resume and cover letter, if you’re using one, or email. If the job description lists words in a certain order, e.g. a list of programming languages required, use the same order in your resume.

3. Your resume isn’t formatted properly. You might think distinctive formatting will set your resume apart, but automated programs don’t care if a document is pretty. Be consistent in formatting. When in doubt – Hire a professional resume writer.

4. Your resume is substantially different from your LinkedIn profile. It‘s critical to make sure they match what’s on your resume. This may seem to be a contradiction – in #1 I advised keyword optimization – but it’s really common sense. Jobs worked, employers, years on the job and other details should match.

5. The company got 500 resumes for one job posting, and yours was the 499th received. Looking for a job is a full-time job. Do your research – know which companies you want to work for, organizations where you sense culture fit. Create a job search agent to notify you by email (ExecuNet and RiteSite provide this tool) when a job has been posted that meets your criteria. Being early with your resume or application does matter. Check back in the first few days to make sure the listing hasn’t changed. Often a company will post a job and halfway through the process change the description.

It’s hard to game the system. Your best bet is still a personal referral, and even that may not be enough to get a call. So what can you do? First of all, you need to simply STOP being a job applicant!

Here are the Top 5 Suggestions to Get Noticed:

1. Research interesting companies on social media. Find out who the recruiters are and follow them. Many will tweet new postings, so watch their streams and jump on anything for which you are qualified. And if they tweet news saying the company’s had a great quarter, retweet the news with a positive comment.

2. Consider starting a blog in your area of interest or expertise. It’s a social world; time to build a trail of breadcrumbs leading to you. Include the blog, and links to any especially relevant posts, in your emails to recruiters with whom you’re working.

3. Get professional help with your resume. A professional resume writer can help you increase your odds of getting more attention with a great resume and getting through the talent management software to the decision makers.

4. If at all possible, don’t wait until you’re out of work to find your next job. Start managing your career! Your chances of finding the next job are best when you’re still employed. Learn how to manage your career proactively. Consider hiring a reputable career coach to guide you through this career transition management process.

5. Network! Network! Network! Old advice, but still true. Be visible, be upbeat, be informed about industry trends and news in your area of expertise.

The Golden Rule of Networking:
“People will do business with and network with and refer people in their network to those people they know, like and trust and respect.”

#1 Seek out warm referrals from the people you know, like, trust, and respect.

#2 Always be trying to schedule a face-to-face meeting with the warm referrals you are given by the people in your network. Once you have been given a warm referral, force yourself to make the phone call within 48 hours to start your networking connection and secure a meeting. Then follow up and follow though!

Finding a job is tough, no question about it. I’ve talked to other recruiters who say they only respond to 30 percent of applicants. The odds are good you’ll be in the 60+ percent who hears nothing a lot of the time. Don’t take it personally – it’s not a rejection of you, it’s a reflection of the times. If you don’t hear back, know you’re not alone. Just move on to the next target……and let it go!

Good Hunting!

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1 Comment
  • Anonymous

    Hi Mark,

    Thank you for your encouraging words regarding the job hunt. It is a great reminder that it is not necessarily a reflection about us, but a reflection of our tough times.



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