Why You Don't Hear Back From Employers – Part 1

Job seekers across the country cry out in frustration, “Why don’t I hear back from employers?!” It is a reasonable question, especially if you’ve applied to more jobs than you can count. But before you wage a war against hiring managers, let me remind you just how competitive the job market has become: A job posting that once fetched a mere 20 applications, can bring in more than 100 times that number in today’s economy. Hiring managers are often overwhelmed by the attention a single vacancy garners. That realization does not, in any way, excuse their bad behavior, specifically, their failure to respond to your submission. As a job seeker, you simply want to know where you stand in the process and whether the company is interested in moving forward with your application. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always deliver what we want. While more employers are considering how their failure to communicate more honestly with job seekers may impact their reputation overall, there is no guarantee you will hear back from a company after you’ve completed their application process. Oh, the agony of getting nothing but cricket chirps after submitting (what you consider to be) an amazing cover letter and an equally impressive resume. To ease the suffering, I offer you four reasons why you don’t hear back from employers and what you can do to increase your odds of getting the response you want. 1. Your cover letter isn’t interesting or compelling enough. Why do you want this job? Make your case through a well-crafted cover letter that gives the hiring manager a sense of your passion, qualifications, achievements and personality. (I will cover this further in an upcoming post.) It is very important that you understand how to effectively communicate your interest in a position. A cover letter offers you a platform to speak directly to the person who can hire you. It provides an opportunity to clearly and succinctly express your enthusiasm, value and experience without any interruptions. This is your time to speak up and stand out from the competition. Your cover letter should convey a healthy mix of confidence, competence and courtesy to ensure you grab the hiring manager’s attention. 2. Your resume doesn’t include enough keywords. Resume software can either be your friend in this digital age or the bane of your virtual existence. When you apply for jobs online, it is safe to assume your submission will be consumed reviewed by an automated system that will ultimately determine whether your application is forwarded to a hiring manager or banished to the black hole. Luckily, these machines aren’t smarter than you. To beat technology at its own game, be sure your resume and your responses to screening questions include keywords from the job posting you are responding to. If the job description indicates that candidates should have strong customer service skills, guess what? Your resume should include the words “strong customer service skills.” You want to sell your unique experience based on what the company (and its screening machine) seeks in a prospective employee. 3. Your social media profile contains potentially offensive language or photos. Did you forget 92 percent of U.S. companies are using social media in their recruiting strategy? This means employers are checking you out from all angles, and social media can reveal some very telling information about your personality, opinions, beliefs, hobbies and work ethic. Maybe your friends think the photo of you chugging beer is particularly funny, but a potential employer may not find it amusing at all. There is nothing wrong with celebrating life and who you are through your social media pages, but some pictures are private and should not be available for the public to see. Also, personal rants should take place behind closed doors with people you know and trust–not on Twitter. A social media page containing profanity and lewd comments can ruin your chances of being contacted for a job. To be on the safe side, create a professional profile that highlights how you would be a great addition to the company. 4. Your email address is unprofessional. Professionalism is required across all forms of communication, not just on your social media pages or during in-person meetings, such as interviews. If your email address includes adjectives or pet names, you should create a new account exclusively for your job hunt. Sexybabe101@email.com or JerseyFlyGuy007@email.com might make sense for an online dating profile, but your first and last name seem like the best bet for a polished email address: James.Greene@email.com. If you want to be taken seriously by employers, then take your job search seriously by avoiding amateur mistakes. It is your responsibility to present yourself as someone a reputable company would like to hire. Come back next week for part II of Why You Don’t Hear Back from Employers. Hint: The next four reasons are not your fault.   Voice Your View: Do you think less of a company if they don’t respond to your application? How important is it for employers to let you know where you are in the process? Share your experiences in our comments section.      

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26 comments on “Why You Don't Hear Back From Employers – Part 1
  1. ralph lee vaughn says:

    thank for information tips

  2. Jerry Zeekaf says:

    I simply cannot believe what I’m reading here. On the one hand you say hiring managers are overwhelmed and on the other you say software screens your resume. And then to ask “why do you want this job?” Are you kidding me? If you cant figure that out your really have no business to so much as look at a resume.

    What ever happened to basing your decision solely on the persons QUALIFICATIONS, WORK HISTORY? Or doesn’t that matter? And what qualifications do the people that read these resumes have? How can that person make a decision in less than the 15 seconds? Do THEY a psychology degree? Have they taken a profiling course?

    Let me give you an example. I applied at Solar Turbines for a position in their materials distribution department. I’ve been doing that for well over 20 years. My resume was not chosen. Now a guy who worked for me applied for the same job. Heck I trained him. He had several DUI’s, arrested 3 times for possession of illegal drugs, spousal abuse and a litany of other violations. HE got hired! Why? Because his cover letter said all the right things. So it begs the question: who’s the bigger fool here? The guy who got the job or me?

    The hiring process has become nothing but a sham. You’ve put power into the hands of people that do not know how to use it nor have the qualifications to use it. In my time I personally interviewed thousands of job seekers. You filled out a boiler plate job application and wrote down where you worked, for how long and what you did. We built America doing exactly that. You guys are destroying the very core of who we are…people.

    • Jane Doe says:


      You hit the nail on the head. My company has had layoffs for the last 4 years. They are outsourcing for cheaper labor overseas. A bunch of long-time employees were let go so far. One of the contractors chosen to stay is not there today because that person could not pass the drug screen:)

      People with longtime tenure and a work ethic are considered dinosaurs
      even if we have kept up with technology. If you make too much or are perceived to be too old, you are simply out of luck. This is coming from
      a person who was known for the best attitude in the workplace.
      I was given my walking papers after 20 years just this April.
      I have applied to around 25-30 position and have had 3 interviews.
      My resume was written by a professional writer and my cover letters
      include all the “Keywords” that the advertised position is looking for.

      Sadly, I see incompetence in every realm of today’s society.
      Just because someone may know how to use a smart phone and crunch numbers on an excel spreadsheet does not mean they know how to handle people. I think technology is wonderful, but it has not and never will substitute for people skills & common sense.

    • Linda says:

      Well stated Jerry.

    • Gloria Jordan says:

      I agree with you, I have been looking for a job for quite some time and I was told by a friend that when he worked for one firm they had him looking though the resumes that came in and to pick who he thought was qualified. I have always thought that business should at least repond to the applicants, whether or not they are selected. And my last comment is that in some companies the hireing process can take weeks.

    • SuAnn says:

      AMEN! And yes … you didn’t get the job because of your age/experience and we both know it. I’m in the same position as you and 100’s/1,000’s of Americans 🙁

    • Frances Nelson says:

      Absolutely – I have the same viewpoint myself. “What ever happened to basing your decision solely on the persons QUALIFICATIONS, WORK HISTORY? Or doesn’t that matter? And what qualifications do the people that read these resumes have?”

      The hiring process has become nothing but a sham. You’ve put power into the hands of people that do not know how to use it nor have the qualifications to use it

  3. John T. says:

    Excellent and useable suggestions.

  4. Lucy Alaluf says:

    Thank you for your comments, I like the constructive impute. I feel I have to be me, I can not change my past but, I can change the present, by inprobing, I can honestly said that I am aware of my weakness and I pay attention to them in order to make this change a part of me, I see so many people getting jobs, they do not even qualified for, but they are polite and know how to work the system, I have no problem if everyone knows the true about me, I can’t pretend to be someone else. I am a hard working person, with strong work ethics, I do not look for short cuts, I am reliable, I am not afraid to say I don’t know and ask for help, I like working as a team, I have 30 years experience Serving people, I have work for 18 years in the same place and they like me, the internet is a very reliable tool that we all use, but your judgment about a person base on a software or a cover letter may be totally wrong. I have an old computer that is not compatible with the new office software up dates from Microsoft, so in order for you to like my cover letter, I have to go and spend money I don’t have to get software so you can have my resume, in the hope, that you will hire me. Tall order. I do not drink, I have no pictures anywhere, maybe I sound un-polite, but I am just telling the true. I really appreciate the opportunity to be heard.

    • Dee Dee Cohn says:

      I am in the same position. I worked 17 years with one company and have not been able to find a job in the last year. I applied for a non-management operations position, which I am over qualified for but really need to work, at a large retailer’s local branch and had an interview with the store manager, at the end of the interview he stated that he would be in contact with me within a few days. When I had not heard from him after a few days, I called and left a couple messages for the manager. I was told by a store associate that the manager never calls anyone, he feels that if you really want the job then you will come into the store and remind him who you are and show how badly you want the position. That is a load of poop! I was an assistant to the HR manager for more than 5 years and I never heard of such. In this day and age it has come down to whether or not I decide to beg for a job instead of being a qualified candidate? Oh and by the way, the person that actually got that job is 19 years old and has NEVER worked a day in his life; no experience at all.

  5. Lorne Ernst says:

    Every other recruiter will give you all different ‘line items’ that should be presented and yes more text less interest for an overwhelmed HR reviewing piles of Resumes’. If going thru a recruiter for a job and that recruiter keeps the name of the company a secret and you can’t on your own investigate the EXACT services of that company then no Cover Letter is best. A Cover Letter is to be written EXACTLY of what YOU can PROVIDE AS AN ASSET tailored made for that company! Never just rewrite what’s already on your Resume’! Noted Keywords on a Resume’ is a must I agree as most are computer sorted to fit what that company is into. Social Media is more bad than good as ANY pictures, statements can exempt you from qualifying from to much action shown on Facebook where employer thinks you will be spending to much time to a simple picture of you with friends holding up drinks at a Bar can cause concern. Remember they DO NOT KNOW YOU! Then addressing with a stupid (but you think funny) email address is just another negative qualifier. Again, remember where you are attempting to get a job or even thru (in my view) useless recruiters THEY DO NOT KNOW YOU PERSONALLY! So ALL printed material needs to be as if your first blind date…And she or he’s Hot! Now say what you feel and able to provide!!!

    • Linda says:

      I am a former HR Manager / Safety Officer and went back to college to become now a Medical Administration Specialist. I agree with most of what you stated here and it’s good advice for beginners. I have a great resume and cover letter and plenty of experience on the HR side as well. Yet I am discovering there is no reciprocal respect given to candidates in the form of a response to resume submission particularly if the potential candidate was not chosen. What happened to the workforce that the now HR management seems so IMPERSONAL? Most all applicatin processes are ONLINE! A lot is missed when noone in the HR dept is seeing the applicant personally.
      It seems that now the “aggravation” of many interruptions when HR is looking for a new candidate has now resulted in these kind of problems.
      I ask any HR personnel: PLEASE allow yourself to take the time to see and speak to the applicants. You will indeed get a better view of the candidate from the start.

    • Frances Nelson says:

      So true!

  6. janet w, says:

    I appreciate that information,but yes it would be nice, to receive an respond, even if its and rejection

  7. Sonya Williams says:

    I appreciate you taking the time to assist all of us who are currently seeking employment. Those of us who are unemployed are trying to receive any/all help possible. I have used unemployment funds to pay for a resume and cover letter. Needless to say, I am yet applying for jobs. I have worked diligently for more than 20 years and achieved a Bachelors Degree while working full time and yet I was layed off frome the State of Alabama and not even so much as considered for a professional position. I believe in the State of Alabama it is “the good ol Boy system” that prevent most job seekers from achieving profitable jobs. I am a black woman, in my early 40’s, with a degree and a very good resume. So, what does that tell you?

  8. misha says:

    I find that some of the information you give is very accurate, yet I feel that it does not properly address the real issue of companies no longer taking the time to actually talk to perspective canidates for a particular position. I have had interviewers on the phone tell me that they don’t feel that I’m a good fit based on my resume or application. Then I find that the company hired a person that didn’t have the qualifications for the position. They just knew the proper key words to use. So much for being honest during an interview or on an application.

  9. Kenneth says:

    I believe that the landscape has changed considerably because many HR professionals no longer respond to prospects. This I believe is somewhat disrespectful as they expect the potential employee to have all their “ducks in a row’ with a flawless CL and CV etc. However, after going through the process of carefully crafting a response to an ad for employment, HR in many cases does not even have the courtesy to call or supply a rejection letter anymore. What is going on??????

  10. Jonah says:

    Sometimes, however, there can be too much of a ‘good thing’. Not to long ago I got an interview in a town about 100mi from where I live. Yes, they were very aware I was from out of town; my willingness to relocate/commute was one of the questions at the interview. To be honest , at the end of the process I really didn’t know where I stood. Over the course of the week following the interview I received 3 call from the company.. to be specific , the caller ID said it was the main switchboard of the company, but it wasn’t the # of the HR person that had contacted me twice to set up the interview. They also left no message. BTW, my answering machine just had the factory default message (and it does identify my name and #) That Friday, I did get a fourth call, a message form the HR person’s # saying “I would like to speak to you about the (position title) please call me back”. When I called he actually set up a meeting time the following Wed. I drove up , somewhat excited… as I figured this was either going to be a an offer or at least a second interview. It turned out to be only a personal 3min meeting with the HR, for him to tell me “That they opted for another candidate whom they felt was a better fit”! I might have been disappointed at not getting a jbo , but companies what who they want. I was annoyed at the week long tease, plus the 2hr drive and 1/2 tank of gas just to deliver news that could have been delivered more easily and less awkwardly via a form letter or email.
    I think the thing this post tries to convey is that the HR staff IS NOT the hiring manager, unfortunately. HR is charged with finding qualified candidates, but they themselves don’t understand the qualifications, thus they rely on ‘keywords’, which are usually the MINIMAL requirements of the actual hiring manager. EXTREME example: ‘BS in Computer Science’.. you respond with ‘MS in Computer Science’. Your res is nixed as the HR ( and remember am using this an an over simplified example ) doesnt understand that in order to get the ‘MS’ you needed a ‘BA’. Ironically, that means HR many times unintentionally filters out the better candidates for the sake of ‘profile baseline’ candidates.

  11. Marvina says:

    I agree with some of what’s been talked about, but not all! I think a lot of companies say they’re hiring, just to see what the response will be, not because they are really looking. And don’t even get me started on these phone interviews that are conducted by minimum making personnel who ask some of the dumbest questions I’ve ever heard at 7:30 in the morning, on a Sunday!!!
    I have been steadily looking for nearly a year now, with just one person-to-person interview and 2 phone interviews. I am very discouraged and may just go to McDonald’s and forget about what I’m qualified for!

    • Rebecca says:

      Marvina, you echo my thoughts exactly! I’ve got a good resume, (at least for a female in her 20’s), having an Ivy League education, worked in Engineering, and so on. Yet finding a job, even as a secretary, seems impossible, because my cover letter isn’t “exciting” enough or I don’t use certain keywords in my resume. It seems regardless of your accomplishments, perfectly-worded application documents are all employers wish to see. I’ve also received a number of those frustrating phone calls you mentioned…

      …It’s very possible that, in this economy, you’ll see a number of college grads going to the McDonalds and Taco Bells of the world just because they’ve stopped caring. 🙁

  12. Ken says:

    I agree with just about everything said. I was told that 40 was over the hill. I am over 50 might as well throw me in the grave. In the field that I am in I have taught most of that generation and now I can not get a job. But for there is hope for every 1000 nos there will be 1 yes. THANKS and good luck!

  13. r snovil says:


  14. Harry says:

    And how many of you have been looking so long that you see the same jobs, with an unidentified company, on a geneal job board, reposted time and time again. Guess the “Screening Software” picked the wrong human for the job the first 2-10 times(agh!!!). I used to think I was doing something wrong. Now I just shrug it off and figure it was the employers’ “loss” when they didn’t communicate at all with me.

  15. S.Richards says:

    I have been looking for over two years other than seasonal at holidays nothing. I applied for over 75 jobs in a month and only one sent me rejection letters. I have gaps in employment as I went back to school and had my family to raise. This day and age that works against you. But say you are caring for a relative then that is fine. What the difference. In the time i have received my bachelors degree and currently working on my masters degree. I apply for jobs that are way over qualified for along with ones that are where I want to be for a career and nothing. It is frustrating but I keep plugging along. Eventally something will click for me at least I hope it is sooner than later.

    • Frances Nelson says:

      I can totally relate to sentence #1. But caring for a relative, which I am currently doing, works against you too – or it appears it has me.

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