Ask Brad: 'Why Don't I Hear Back When I Apply for a Job?'

Face It, Job Seekers: They're Just Not That Into You

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Q. Why don't I hear back when I apply for a job?

A. You call but get no answer. You leave a message but get no reply. You e-mail but receive nothing. You know you'd make a great match. So why don't you ever hear back?
Brad Karsh
Brad Karsh is president of JobBound, a career consulting company, and author of 'Confessions of a Recruiting Director.'

Face it: Recruiting directors just aren't that into you. If I've heard one common lament from anyone looking for a job in advertising it's this: They rarely hear back on time -- if at all -- about the jobs for which they apply. Senior executive, junior employee, new grad -- it doesn't matter. There's virtually never a timely response from an agency.

So why does it happen? Here are three reasons:

1. Sheer volume
Most agencies, especially the large ones, get flooded with résumés. When I worked at Leo Burnett, it was not uncommon to get upward of 500 to 600 resumes for one job opening. The sheer boundaries of space and time do not allow the typical recruiting director to personally get in touch with each and every candidate.

2. There is no job
Could this be true? Yes. Companies often post jobs when they don't necessarily have openings. Here's why: They want to collect résumés, so when they do have openings, they have people to consider. They have to post the job for governmental or legal reasons (don't ask -- it's a long story). They forgot to take the posting down from the last opening they had (happens more than you'd think). In these instances, you likely will never hear back from a recruiting director.

3. Bad business
At some companies, recruiting becomes one of the last priorities. There are client demands, meetings, e-mails, co-worker issues. Companies relegate recruiting to the bottom of the list. Recruiting should be the top priority, because we all run on brainpower, but not every company thinks that way. As a result, you send the résumé, you even interview, but you never receive a response.

So what should you do?

Well, first of all, don't take it personally. It's going to happen. Assume no one will get back to you, and then you can be pleasantly surprised when someone does.

Let your friends do the dirty work. If you have a friend or acquaintance working at the company, don't be afraid to have them check in for you. It will seem like less of a nuisance to a recruiting director if his own employee checks in.

Finally, be persistent, but don't be a stalker. If you're applying for a job by sending your résumé online or in person, make the call after a week to see if they received it and find out if they want to talk. Don't expect a response, and don't follow up again.

If you've actually interviewed for a job, you can be more persistent. After every interview, ask when you can expect a reply, and then feel free to follow up if you have not heard back. I'd call, then e-mail, then call again. Feel free to contact them every three or four days, but switch up how you reach out.

When all else fails, know when to take a hint and move on. You need to ask yourself, "Do I want to work for a company that doesn't have the common decency to even call me back?"

The job search is a lot like dating. You'll get rejected. A lot. And then you'll find the right match.
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