You saw a job posted online. You went ahead and submitted your resume.
You’ve been waiting a couple of weeks and haven’t heard anything from them.
Or maybe you got as far as interviewing with a company three weeks ago and haven’t heard back from them since.
All sorts of thoughts and emotions start taking over. Why is it taking so long? And what is it that’s taking so long? Did they ghost me?
All of us have been at this stage at some point in life.
For this reason, I thought it would be interesting to share an inside perspective of this process. I interviewed Terri Horn, a seasoned HR Director, about some of the reasons applicants might not hear back from recruiters/companies they apply to.
Terri Horn is a Talent Strategist with a proven track record in providing process improvement, cultural optimization, and recruitment strategy for diversity-focused organizations. Whether recruiting top executive-level talent, managing employee integration post mergers, or restructuring the operational infrastructure, she drives positive change from conceptualization through execution, consistently reducing costs while enhancing the employee experience.
This article will give you an idea of all the things that recruiters are working on and why it takes so long while sharing some examples about internal processes.
Reason 1: You’re Not Qualified for the Role
The first reason you are not hearing back from a job is that you are most probably not the best candidate for it. When you send resumes for jobs you don’t have the qualifications for, it lends to the reason you don’t hear back. For instance, you come across a job posting for an on-site job in a different city and still decide to give it a shot thinking that maybe they’ll be open to having you relocate. Chances are that you won’t be the only one doing it this way and recruiters won’t have time to respond to each of you.
Terri shared an interesting example of this. “I once posted a professional level job and wrote at the top in bold that only candidates with underwriting experience will be considered. Despite clearly mentioning that this is NOT a remote job, I received 103 applicants, and only four qualified for it. It was surprising to see people from all over the country posting for a job that’s based on-site in Irvine, California. I responded to the rest of them saying that my client is only considering local applicants who have this specific experience. However, I just couldn’t believe how many people didn’t read it and just posted their resumes!”
Looking at it from a job seeker’s perspective makes sense because you can’t wait to land a job and decide to take a shot at every job posting you come across. Here is what you can do to improve your chances:
- Check the job requirements thoroughly to make sure that you are a good fit for that role. For instance, are they looking for you to be on-site? If so, is the location on your resume reflecting the location they’re hiring in?
- Are there critical software, tools, technologies, or terminologies they want you to be familiar with? Does your resume reflect those? If not, there’s a lower chance for you to hear back.
Reason 2: Scheduling Issues
If you look at the inner workings that contribute to the delay in getting back to a candidate, scheduling issues come at the top.
For example, you might have to wait for some weeks after your interview just because the interviews of other candidates got put on hold due to vacations.
“Hiring cycles are like puzzles where input from multiple stakeholders is required. Sometimes, a number of people need to come together to discuss the position and what they want out of it and their schedules might not be matching up.”
“They understand that it is a candidate-driven market but they still need to do their due diligence. Each company has its own process for this and I’ve seen people lose candidates through the process as well,” she added.
Reason 3: Recruiter Responsibility
Unfortunately, some recruiters don’t feel the obligation to get back to people. They might be overwhelmed with their work. Some of them might be new to the field and are still developing the empathy necessary for this job.
“I spend around 10 seconds on each resume scanning for certain key points. If they’re not there, that’s another reason your resume might get overlooked,” she added.
The key here is to write a cover letter for each job. Take bullets from the job description and explain briefly how you’re qualified for them. This does two things:
- Prepares you for what the company wants.
- Highlights your skills for the recruiter in an easily readable manner.
Moreover, add this information to your resume in a concise manner to show that you’ve got the qualifications for that job as well.
Not every applicant wants to go through that level of effort, but I believe that you get more progress from quality over quantity. If you find a job description that you think is the perfect one for you, you should put in an extra 10 minutes of effort to write a bulleted cover letter for it. It won’t take long and might help a lot.
Reason 4: Budgetary Constraints
Sometimes the situation at the companies changes in a way that they’re unable to afford a new employee. “Things might have moved around and they might not be able to set aside the budget to hire you anymore,” said Terri.
She further added “There are legitimate ways where I’m seeing this right now, where budgets are becoming an issue and people are closing jobs. So, they had this job out there and then they decided oh, we’re going into the final quarter of the year. We can limp along without it. This happens more often than we realize.”
Reason 5: Are You A Good Cultural Fit?
At times hiring managers are not sure if you’re going to be a good fit for the team from either a cultural or skills perspective. This is another important reason that’s taking you really long to hear back after an interview.
According to Terri, there is a probability that the hiring manager is on the fence about you. Sometimes they really like a candidate but maybe not enough to make an offer. So, they could be waiting for other candidates to come through the pile first. They don’t want to make a decision until they’ve had a chance to interview other people. It is likely that they haven’t found candidates with that particular skill set. Sometimes they were expecting a candidate to check off more boxes or maybe the chemistry was questionable. Usually, if the chemistry matches, they’ll have you interview with other people in the organization so that they can weigh in.
Reasons 6: Unrealistic Hiring Expectations
Another unfortunate reason it’s taking really long for you to hear back from jobs can be the unrealistic hiring expectations of companies. This may happen in absence of a third-party recruiter to adjust their expectations.
According to Terri, underpayment is a serious issue. It is not uncommon for companies to look for manager-level skills with an entry-level pay scale. Sometimes the clients adjust the compensation based on feedback otherwise it becomes really difficult to fill such positions.
She suggests that the only way hiring managers and internal people will get the light-bulb moment is when they realize that no one’s posting for that $80,000 job. A better way is when you get the interview, say thank you so much but, I’m entertaining offers between $100K – $120K right now. So, you’re part of the education process as well.
How to Follow Up After Not Hearing Back From Recruiters
If you’re not receiving a response because of any of the above-mentioned reasons, a polite follow-up is the best way to go about it, says Terri.
“When you’ve got hundreds of candidates, it’s hard to keep them all on the top of mind. Realizing that you might be one of a lot, it’s always good to just be politely persistent. So, if you haven’t heard anything, take an opportunity to check in in a friendly manner once every two weeks.”
Here are some templates to help you follow up:
Hey, happy Friday!
How’s your day going? I just wanted to check in with you to express my continued interest in the [job title] at [company name]. I’d really appreciate it if you’ve any updates on this.
Hi [recruiter’s name]
How was your weekend? I went/did [share a line about your weekend activity]
I’d like to know if there’s an update on [job title] at [company name]. I’m really excited about this role as it aligns perfectly with my strengths. I think I can contribute a lot to company growth in this role. Looking forward to hearing back from you soon.
Have a nice day!
Template 03: If you’ve already had an interview with a company
Hello [recruiter’s name]
How’s your day going? I wanted to follow up on my interview for [job title] on [date] and was wondering if you had an update to share with me. I enjoyed our discussion and got to know a lot about the role and company culture. I’m particularly thrilled about the discussion on future projects [team name] is going to work on. I think my skills are the right fit to overcome the challenges we may come across during these projects.
Please let me know if you need any additional information from my side. I am excited about the opportunity to work with you at [company name].
I look forward to hearing from you.
Regardless of what the internal reasons might be for delayed responses to the job applicants, I always advise my clients not to put all their eggs in one basket.
- Don’t get attached to one company you’re interviewing with. It’s better to do your best with one application, but don’t put all your heart and soul into it just in case it doesn’t work out the way you want.
- Whenever you’re applying for jobs, you should be prepared for all sorts of outcomes.
- Don’t let your momentum die and don’t give up. Keep interviewing and keep learning!
If you’re not hearing back from recruiters because of any of the above-mentioned reasons, your resume might need another look. Feel free to submit it below for a free critique.