Why don’t I hear back from employers about my job application?

Illustrative representation of Why don’t I hear back from employers about my job application?

Do you submit résumés or applications but don’t hear anything back from employers?

Here's a hint: When it comes to getting a response on your application, you usually get back what you put in.

So why don’t employers follow up with unsuccessful candidates?

There are many reasons why employers don’t contact job seekers, such as:

  1. They don’t have time. Employers are busy. Contacting every candidate and providing thoughtful feedback takes time. Consider that an employer may have had multiple positions to fill and on average there are more than a dozen applicants per position.
  2. They didn’t think you really wanted the job. If you send the same résumé and cover letter to different employers or if the application is full of typos, chances are you won’t hear back from any of them. They’ll assume you didn’t put much effort into the application because you just aren’t interested in them or their job.
  3. They don't have to. You might feel like you are entitled to a response but employers are under no obligation to let you know the outcome of their recruitment.

Below are some ways you can increase your chances of hearing back from an employer about a job. They might even give you feedback on things to improve next time.

What can you do to increase your chances of hearing back?

  1. Tailor your application to each job you apply for. Tailoring your application to the specific employer is a key way to let employers know you are interested in working with them. It shows you have researched their business and understand them and the role. Use your cover letter to explain how you would fit within and benefit the business. Employers will remember you for it!
  2. Understand that how you apply impacts whether you hear back. Your chances of hearing back from an employer varies depending on how and where you are applying for jobs. For example, applying for jobs online greatly reduces the chances of hearing back. That’s why it’s a good idea to broaden your job search strategy to include a range of channels, including the hidden jobs market.
  3. Contact employers directly about jobs. You don’t have to wait for employers to advertise vacancies to hand in your résumé. Be proactive and contact employers you want to work for. Use your research on the employer to explain why you want to work there. You never know, they might have an opening or be willing to put your details on file for next time they are recruiting.
  4. Hustle your networks. Ask people around you if they know about any jobs that might be available. Using word of mouth is a very common way for employers to recruit - it can save them time and effort.
  5. Always follow up about the job. Don’t wait for an employer to get back to you after submitting your (tailored) application. Ask them how their recruitment is progressing. Even if you were unsuccessful, take the chance to ask for feedback on what you could do better next time. Always thank them for their time.

Remember that while there will always be employers who will go out of their way to provide updates and feedback to unsuccessful candidates, some just won’t. Always be professional and polite to employers you speak to and always take the opportunity if you are offered feedback by an employer.

More resources to help you

…Or you can browse Job Jumpstart for other ideas and suggestions of what to do next.