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Why Haven’t You Heard Back? Four Reasons to Calm Down After Applying for a Job

“I haven’t heard back from them!” is a frequent response I hear from stressed-out job seekers. Here are some insights on why it's important to not take it so personally.

“I haven’t heard back from them!” is a frequent response I hear from stressed-out job seekers.  Folks work themselves into a lather after submitting an application and a reply doesn’t materialize.

I recognize there are job seekers who tell me they’ve applied to more than 100 positions and never received a response -- but I suspect in some of those instances, something else may be going on. It could be a resume that can be improved, typos eliminated, an obvious form cover letter that says “your company isn’t worth a custom effort,” or continually targeting positions for which one is not qualified.   Plain old bad luck could be in play as well.

But one sure way to drive yourself crazy is to staunchly believe that you are owed a response from every company to which you apply. Take this approach, and you will be bitterly disappointed and feel marginalized when time after time, you send a resume and nothing materializes. Just ... silence.

Yes, it would be nice, yes, it would ease your concerns, yes, if the world had perfect manners every letter would be replied to, but this isn’t a perfect world. If it was, heck, none of us would ever be seeking employment. We'd always have the job we love. 

Think about job-hunting like batters coming up to the plate: Would home runs be even mildly interesting if every player in the lineup hit one out of the park every day, every game, every year? One, it’s impossible, and two, no one has the slightest expectation that home runs happen each time you swing a bat.

It’s the same with landing an interview: Each sent resume does not generate an invite to meet, or even a response. Striking out is a daily occurrence for MLB players, and it’s also going to happen frequently in a job search. But the only way a batter ever achieves that home run is by trying, over and over again.

For job-seekers who are applying to positions but not hearing back, it’s possible that the company hired someone else, and that you simply weren’t in the candidate pool. But don’t assume that’s always the case. It’s never a bad idea to have your resume in a company’s candidate application and tracking system, for future opportunities. And consider there may be other reasons you haven’t heard from that employer -- none of which are reflective of what you bring to the table:

1.  The position was frozen – other business reasons are causing HR and the hiring manager to put this on the back burner for now. You might get a call from the HR department five months after initially applying for a position online, which necessitates having many applications in the pipeline today for interview opportunities down the road. 

2.  The hiring manager is tied up -- other projects and deadlines are preventing her or him from scheduling interviews.  They really need a new hire but can’t make it happen right now until they get some breathing room.Stressed-out hiring managers do NOT want to hear from fidgety job-seekers asking over and over again if interviews have started, if their application was received, etc. Don’t be remembered (and rejected) as the applicant who couldn’t sit on their hands and let the process just happen. 

3.  The scope changed -- after posting the description, other factors at the company changed and the hiring manager realized they need a more senior (or junior) hire, or staffing changes resulted in this role being tasked with a very different skillset. 

4.  In the rare case, the hiring manager is simply gone -- after posting, the role’s direct supervisor left the company, got promoted, was transferred, etc.  Generally, the employer wants to replace that level of hire, and allow that manager to hire their own team. 

These four reasons obviously delay, not speed up, your chances of getting called in for an interview after submitting a resume.  But they should make job seekers feel less personally rejected, as it were. Do not hang your future or your sanity on one job application. 

A job search is just like dating, trying to find Mr. or Ms. Right. You need a lot of those “at bats” and a wide net of friends who can expand your network of new people, one of whom could be “the one.” It’s crazy to stop trying, or get down on yourself, because you gave your number to one person and they didn’t call for a date, right? You’d keep giving that number out more than once, yes? Job searching works exactly the same way. 

Be patient, be positive, and (just like dating) keep your pipeline full with many other pursuits -- and learn to diminish the importance of each individual application. None of us can make the phone ring for an interview, but all of us are 100 percent in control of other job-seeker tools, such as LinkedIn, networking, volunteering and participating in industry events and conferences.

It’s your overall search effort, which is more than just applying to openings, that helps open doors and creates a group of people that can be an advocate for you as a candidate. 

Reading Recommendation:  Here’s a great article on Money.com from Alison Green about “Tips for Following up on Your Job Application”  http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2011/05/16/tips-for-following-up-on-your-job-application

Kelly Blazek shares job search and work success tips from the corporate front lines in her blog, http://kellyblazek.wordpress.com.  She is available for presentations to groups on job searching, and also one-on-one resume review consultations for job seekers.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Fran Mentch December 06, 2011 at 12:50 PM
Thanks, Kelly. I just sent this perfectly timed article to my daughter.

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