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5 Reasons Job Applicants Don't Hear Back

What to do when it's radio silence from hiring managers and recruiters

By Cesar Ulloa

One of the most common questions job candidates have during their searches is “Why don’t employers or recruiters call me back?” 

Here are five reasons, and ways to improve your odds for getting a response:

1. An unpolished resumé Your resumé is the first impression that hiring managers and recruiters have of you. In addition to showcasing your background, education and experience, your resumé can demonstrate your attention to detail, professionalism and even your intelligence.  But if you present one with spelling errors, typos or missing information — or even if the format is difficult to follow — this may prevent the employer from wanting to learn more about you. 

What to do: Be sure to have someone proofread your resumé and look at it closely for format and content. A well-executed resumé, along with the right background and experience, should encourage a hiring manager or recruiter to pick up the phone and call you back.

(MORE: 5 Essential Elements Your Resume Needs)

2. Gaps in your work history Unfortunately, an extended time of unemployment can be a non-starter, even if your background and skills are excellent. Hiring managers typically prefer hiring professionals who are employed. 

(MORE: Does Out of Work Mean Damaged Goods?)

What to do: Sometimes being out of work is unavoidable, so what can you do to avoid gaps in your resumé?  Consider contract work. It’s an effective way to keep yourself in the game, get exposure to new and different professional experiences, retain your skills and make new contacts.

3. Not showing the right skills on your resumé Many hiring managers are very specific with the skills, certifications and degrees they want from their new employees. If you may have the right ones, but your resume doesn’t show that clearly, your application could be dismissed.

What to do: Ensure your talents are clearly noted. Include a technical summary in your resumé, and, if the posting called for something job-specific, repeat and highlight this information in your cover letter. 

Ask yourself questions like these: What software do I use?  How proficient am I in Excel?  What certificates do I have? Then, make your resumé stand out by saying so and by including any particular skills required for the role.


(MORE: How to Decode Job Descriptions)

4. Inconsistencies in your background Since employers may use a variety of career websites, such as LinkedIn, Monster and CareerBuilder, consistency about you online is critical. If your LinkedIn profile has employment information that differs from what’s on your resumé, it could create misgivings in the mind of hiring managers and recruiters, preventing you from getting called back.

Many staffing agencies use software to track resumé information from the first time you register with them.  If you submitted a resumé in 2010 and again in 2014, but the information on them conflicts, your candidacy may be dismissed.

What to do: Doublecheck to ensure your LinkedIn profile and resumé match up. If you spot a difference — because you inadvertently noted the wrong dates of job tenure at a former employer, for example — make the fix to keep things consistent and accurate.

5. There is nothing to report This one is specifically for job-hunters working with recruiters.

What to do: If a recruiter hasn't reached out after an initial conversation, you should follow up professionally.  At most, make a call every few weeks. Don’t inquire more often or you may be considered an overly aggressive candidate, which can be off-putting to recruiters. This, too, could get eliminated from contention.

If you take all the steps above and are still not getting a response, it may be time to move onto a new opportunity or look for a new recruiter.

Cesar Ulloa is a Senior Staffing Manager, Accounting & Finance Contract Staffing at WinterWyman, one of the largest recruitment firms in the Northeast. Read More
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