Applying for jobs and not hearing back can be incredibly frustrating. At a certain point, you might start asking yourself, “I’ve applied to countless roles and never receive a response. Why am I not hearing back after applying for all these jobs? Is there something wrong with me?”
First, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You are fabulous. Second, while there are countless aspects of the job search that are outside of your control, like the economic downturn and roles being frozen, there are also many within your control, which means you can take action to resolve them and land a job you love.
The following are 10 reasons you may not be hearing back from positions after applying, and how you can address them.
1. Your target is undefined.
If you never hear back after applying to jobs, begin by taking a moment to review the positions you have applied for. While it can be tempting to cast a wide net in the hopes of improving your chances of quickly landing a new role, this can backfire, as you will appear ambivalent. You want to ensure your job target is clear and your job search efforts are focused. This means you are applying to similar roles in related industries. Conversely, if you are applying to disparate roles and/or companies, you want to take some time to refine your search.
2. Your experience and skills don’t align with the role.
Next, you want to be realistic with the roles you’re targeting. While it’s okay to go for roles that feel like a bit of a stretch, you need to be honest about your skills and find roles that match your experience. A good rule of thumb is that you should meet all the basic requirements and most of the preferred qualifications in a job posting. This is particularly important if you want to break into the tech industry, as it is highly competitive, and companies can easily source talent that aligns with the position requirements.
3. Your resume fails to communicate your qualifications.
Now, you want to assess your resume to ensure it effectively conveys your qualifications. During consultations with job seekers, I often find they possess many, if not all, of the experiences and skills listed in a job posting, yet their resumes fail to effectively communicate their abilities. In other words, there’s a disconnect between their true abilities and their resumes. You can make it easy for the recruiter to put you in the “yes” pile by using the job description as a “recipe card.” What I mean by this is that you should print the job description, then check off each bullet point as you double-check whether it’s in your resume, adding it if it’s not there.
4. You’re not customizing your resume.
While we’re on the topic of resumes, you want to ensure you’re tailoring your resume to each position, too. If you have a clear target, you do not have to rewrite your resume for each application. Instead, you simply need to update the keywords in the resume, which I explain how to do in detail in this article. I advise setting a timer for 20 minutes for each application in order to avoid perfectionism.
5. Your contact info is incorrect or missing.
Another resume blunder that may be standing in the way of securing interviews is missing or incorrect contact information. While this may seem like a no-brainer, I recently completed a consultation with a job seeker who had a great resume yet had not received a single call after submitting hundreds of applications. Upon a quick review of their resume, I noticed they had accidentally included an extra digit in their phone number! Additionally, their resume was missing their email address.
6. You’re skipping the cover letter.
If you’re not including a cover letter with your resume, you’re missing out on an additional avenue in which to convey your experience, qualifications, and communication skills. Submitting a cover letter is particularly important if you’re a senior manager or executive, as it’s an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to effectively communicate. However, you don’t want to simply repeat your resume in your cover letter. Rather, you want to use it to communicate your unique value proposition, as well as your interest in the company. I break down how to write an effective cover letter in this article.
7. Your LinkedIn profile and resume don’t align.
Your LinkedIn profile is one of the first things a recruiter will likely review after receiving your application. A common mistake job seekers make is being inconsistent with titles and dates across their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. While rarely done with malice, this can land your application in the rejection pile, as recruiters may assume you’re fudging important details. You want to remain honest and consistent with the details of your employment history. Simply put, don’t stretch the truth.
8. You have unexplained gaps in your career.
Recruiters and hiring managers have become more sympathetic toward career gaps since the start of the pandemic, but I am still a proponent of strategically and concisely addressing any career breaks on your resume and LinkedIn profile, because doing so prevents the reader’s imagination from wandering. If you took a pause from work to take care of a family member’s health, for instance, you can address the gap with a brief statement like: “Took an intentional break from employment to care for family member’s one-time health concern that is now 100% resolved.”
9. You’re avoiding networking.
Importantly, your career documents are only one component of a strategic job search. Because most people land jobs by networking, you want to set aside ample time for informational interviews. If you’re avoiding networking in the hopes that recruiters reply to your cold application, your job search may drag on longer than you’d like. As an introvert, I recognize that networking can be intimidating; however, putting yourself out there can help you find an “in” at your target companies.
10. You need to be patient.
Lastly, landing a new gig requires patience. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it takes the average unemployed American almost five months to land a job. If you are just starting your search, be patient. Set realistic goals for how much time you will spend updating your career documents, submitting job applications, and networking each week. Then, practice patience as you wait to hear back from hiring managers.
These are just a few of the many reasons you may not be hearing back on your job applications, and a few tactics for boosting your response rate. If you’re still feeling stuck in your job search, consider speaking with a career coach who can support you in navigating the job search and landing a job you love. You’ve got this!