Ever applied for a job and never heard back? This is an all-too common experience shared by job applicants of all levels of experience — from recent grads to 6-figure executives.
It can be disheartening. It can feel awful. It can make you feel small – especially if you’ve had a successful interview.
It may make you feel like giving up your job search. Only you can’t. And shouldn’t. It’s just like dating: Should you give up trying to meet someone just because you haven’t met the right person yet?
Here are three common occurrences and reasons why you may not have heard back – and how you can fix it:
- The organization’s needs or budget changed after they posted the job listing.This happens all the time and has nothing to do with you or any of the other applicants. Hiring managers, senior leaders, human resources change directions due to internal budgeting, staff transitions, unexpected increases or decreases in customer spending, or demand on their services.Key indicator that this may have happened: A job very similar to the one that you applied to is re-posted on the company’s website.How to Fix This: Follow up with the person or office specified in the original job announcement. Express your continued interest in the job (if appropriate) and ask if you should reapply. If you don’t hear back, apply again anyway.
- Your application was never reviewed.A recent infographic in The Wall Street Journal presented a scary statistic:Human eyes may never read as many as 25 out of a 100 job applications. The biggest reason? The resume is missing the keywords scanned and ranked by the recruiting software used by companies for the online application process.How to Fix This: Make sure you use the right keywords for the job in your resume, and apply for jobs as soon as you see them posted. Here’s a quick way you can make sure you’re spot-on: see these instructions on how to view the most important keywords for the job in a tag cloud. Often, hiring managers make their interview list after their first review of applications for a job – and they don’t always go back in the applicant pool for more information.
- Another candidate received a referral for the job – and had similar (or more) experience than you did.You’ve heard the statistics: If a current or past employee recommends you for a job, you have a better chance of getting the job.How to Fix This:If you have a contact at the company or know someone who has offered to recommend you for the position – name drop immediately – even in the first sentence of your cover letter. Through my friend ___________, I learned of your need to hire for ______ position.Don’t know anyone? Scour your LinkedIn network or get busy on Facebook and Twitter. Because messages are visible, many organizations place a high priority on responding to messages as part of corporate brand management and recruiting programs.
On Facebook: Like the Company, then make a comment on their corporate wall, or use tools to send them a message online.
On Twitter: Use Twitter’s Advanced Search function to find corporate Twitter accounts for recruiters – example “company name” and “recruiter” or “talent acquisition” and send an @reply expressing your interest/enthusiasm for the company to a recruiter. Example @_________ congratulations for the shout-out on Best 100 places to Work List. What’s the best way to learn more about how to join you?” (If currently employed, change the message tone and ask a subtle question – what are top trends in their field, etc.)
Want to see more on this topic? Check out Ten Reasons Out of Your Control as employers consider your application and Ten Things You Can Control. It’s easier to control many of these variables than you might think: in fact, I’ve found that the mere act of sending a thank you note *after* you received a rejection can increase your chances of getting hired with the same employer in the future. I once was invited back to interview again — and was hired — a year after I was rejected for the same position!