People often wonder why they never hear anything back after they’ve hit send on an email with a resume attached or online 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 that also casts a shadow on the hiring company’s reputation and brand. 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? 

The number one recruiter complaint is that as many as 50% of people applying for a given job simply aren’t qualified. Adding to the challenge, most companies use talent-management software (ATS systems) to screen resumes, weeding out up to 50% 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?

Here are my top 5 reasons you’re not hearing back after applying for a job, and 3 suggestions on how to avoid the resume black hole. 

  1. You really aren’t qualified. – Avoid disappointment, don’t apply for jobs for which you lack qualifications. 
  2. You do not have any keywords optimized your resume. – Job descriptions are salted with keywords to the skills or attributes the company seeks in applicants. If you are unaware as to how this process works, you will need to get help from an expert recruiter or HR professional. 
  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.  What sets you apart is the content and how you tell your story.
  4. Your resume is different from your online profile. – Your LinkedIn profile can be a useful tool, so it‘s important to make sure it matches what’s on your resume to an extent. Jobs worked, employers, years on the job and other details should match. The goal is to showcase your authentic self. The subtext here is always tell the truth. 
  5. The company received 500 resumes for one job posting, and yours was 499th – Do your research. Know which companies you want to work for, organizations where you sense culture fit and contact those employers directly.  

How You Can Get Noticed:

  1. Get professional help & hire a career coach. – The sooner you get expert help, the faster you will see results. Make sure you work with someone that has recruitment or HR expertise.
  2. If possible don’t wait until you’re out of work to find your next job. – I realize for many people this isn’t possible, but your chances of finding the next job are best when you’re still employed.
  3. Network. – Old advice, but still true. Be visible, be upbeat, be informed about industry trends and news in your area of expertise. 

Finding a job is tough. I’ve talked to other recruiters who say they only respond to 30% of applicants. The odds are good you’ll be in the 70% that 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. We can help!