If you've ever looked for a job, you know that one of the most common frustrations is what I call the black hole of resumes: you submit your resume and application, and never hear another word about it.
Job seekers are understandably irked by the fact that in today's job market, they can send out resume after resume, and rarely even get an acknowledgment, let alone a follow-up to tell them where they stand as a candidate.
Unfortunately, I can't fix that.
In fact, because I'm an executive recruiter, you might think I'm a part of the problem.
As an example, last week, I received an email from a candidate who had submitted a resume via an online posting for a senior executive position I'm working on. Eight days had passed since his submission, and he had not gotten a reply, and he was so upset about it that he asked to withdraw his resume for the job.
To me, it was clear that he didn't really understand the recruiting process and was taking some things personally that aren't personal at all.
That's why I wanted to share some of what might be going on behind the scenes with a job application. There are some perfectly understandable reasons why you may not have heard back after sending your resume. The reasons can vary depending on the company and the situation.
Consider these possibilities, which can apply to companies hiring directly, as well as companies working with recruiters:
- Your sense of urgency is not their sense of urgency. You may need a job yesterday, but you may be applying for something they're happy to fill in three months.
- Candidates are still being reviewed. This was the situation with the candidate last week. The search process has certain stages to it, and we were still in the stage of collecting and evaluating initial candidates. No one had been contacted yet, because we hadn't yet done a comparative analysis of the possibilities, and had not yet created a short list.
- The company is not ready to interview yet. Sometimes a search is begun before the need is urgent, and so the company is collecting potential candidates to have at the ready if and when they are ready to move forward.
- The company was never really planning to interview. Occasionally, jobs are posted as a formality, even though the decision has been made about who to hire. Don't get stuck on whether or not that's fair; instead just accept that some of those job postings you see are not really hot to hire, so you may never hear back.
- The search was put on hold. It's very common for a search to be started, and then put on hold. There might be new budget issues, strategic changes in the company's direction, a pending merger or acquisition, or just the realization that the company can get by without filling that job.
- Your resume came in too late. You may have just seen the posting, but the search might actually have been going on for a while. If your resume is received after the first round has been interviewed, it's likely to be set aside until they see if those candidates pan out. I see this often with some of the job boards that aggregate open positions, because they often pull job postings that are several months old, but to the job seeker, they look like fresh listings.
- Your application was incomplete. I receive applications all the time that fail to attach a resume, don't bother including a cover note, or that don't mention the critical things that the job posting outlined. If there are few candidates for the job, you might get a follow-up asking you to send the missing information, but if there are plenty of candidates to consider, you may just be out of luck.
- Your application was misplaced. This can easily happen, when something is misfiled, waylaid by the spam filter, or just somehow overlooked. If you feel very confident that your background is on the mark for the job, resend your response with a friendly and simple "just in case this somehow was misplaced" note.
- There is no time for replies. This is the main reason you don't get a response from a resume submittal: there simply is not enough time for recruiters and companies to focus on the process of sourcing candidates, reviewing applications, interviewing and hiring the right person, and also responding to potentially hundreds of candidates who didn't make the cut. Automated application systems sometimes send you a personal note, but in this lean-and-mean age of staffing, even the most well-meaning recruiters and hiring authorities simply do not have time to send out hundreds of "thanks but no thanks" notes.
So on behalf of all the recruiters and hiring managers out there (not that I can really speak for them all, but what the heck), I will apologize for the frustration of feeling that your resume has disappeared into a black hole.
Obviously, you want to make sure your application is so on-the-mark that you're the one who gets the interview, but try not to get too frustrated, and please don't take it personally if you don't hear back.
There could be many reasons, and they're not all about you.
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