There are many different reasons why you may not be hearing back from employers after you apply for a job. You may also not hear from a hiring manager after you’ve spent time interviewing for a new position, which can be even worse. Not knowing where you stand can be difficult and stressful.
It can be challenging to know whether you should keep applying for more jobs or wait until you get a definitive answer about the position in question. When you’re in that zone where you don’t have a clue about what’s going on with a potential position, it may be best to keep your job search moving forward until you have a firm job offer. Things can change quickly, and until you have a formal agreement to start working, it’s not a done deal.
Why don’t companies take the time to notify applicants where they stand in the interview process? And what can you do when it happens to you? Review some of the reasons why you’re not hearing back from jobs, and what you can do to get a status update on your application.
Why Employers Don’t Let Applicants Know
While it’s the polite (and right) thing to do, companies aren’t required to notify applicants who submit a job application or a resume for an open position.
Some employers make a point of notifying everyone who applies. Others don’t. Large companies may have software that automates the process and sends a confirmation acknowledging that the application was received. These systems may also provide status updates on where you stand in the application process.
Smaller companies may not have the resources to follow up with every candidate, especially when there is a large pool of applicants for a job. In that case, only the people the company wants to interview will likely be notified.
Reasons Applicants Don’t Hear Back
There can be other factors that impact the hiring process. It’s often not as streamlined as you might think, and it can take time to review applications, decide who to interview, and which candidate to hire.
After Submitting a Job Application or Resume
In addition to the company not having a procedure in place to notify applicants, here are some of the other reasons why your application may not have received a response:
- You lack the required credentials. If you don’t have the attributes the hiring manager is looking for, you probably won’t be considered for the job.
- Your resume doesn’t match the job requirements. You could have the qualifications, but the employer may not be able to tell that you’re a match. It’s important to make sure your resume shows why you’re a strong candidate for that specific position.
- Your resume is a mess. If you don’t submit a well-formatted resume, without typos or grammatical errors, you could knock yourself out of contention.
- You didn’t submit the required documents. If a company asks for a cover letter, writing samples, references, or any other material to support your application, you need to submit it when you apply.
- The company hired someone else. It could be something as simple as the position having been filled, but the company not yet removing the job listing.
- The company’s hiring plans have changed. The company may have decided not to fill the position or may have changed the job requirements for the position. Budget issues may have stalled the hiring process. Management may have changed, causing a temporary hiring freeze. An internal candidate could have been hired or promoted.
- The hiring process can be longer than you might expect. The company could be waiting to collect a batch of resumes before starting the interview process.
After a Job Interview
Some of the reasons why you weren’t selected to interview with a company may also explain why you didn’t receive follow-up communication after a job interview. There could be another candidate who is a better fit for the role, or the company may have decided to put a hold on filling the position.
Another reason why you may not hear about a job after your interview could be that the hiring manager may not have considered you to be a good fit for the company’s culture after speaking with you directly. It could also be that another candidate may have been referred by a current employee and gained an advantage in the selection process. Hopefully, your references had good things to say about you. But if they didn’t, you may no longer be in consideration.
There are also factors that may be considered “deal breakers”—those that guarantee you won’t get a job offer. A JazzHR survey reports what hiring professionals say will take an applicant out of consideration for the job. The top two deal-breakers were a tie: 90% of respondents stated they wouldn’t hire someone who lied on their resume or used their cell phone during the interview. These were followed by not being authorized to work in the U.S. (86%) and bad-mouthing previous employers (81%). Being perceived as arrogant can cost you a job offer too, as 76% of hiring managers said they wouldn’t hire someone they considered arrogant.
Social media is another reason why you may not hear back from a prospective employer. A CareerBuilder survey reports that 57% of respondents found content online that would cause them not to hire a candidate.
When a Job Offer is Delayed
If you don’t hear back right away, don’t presume that you’re not getting an offer. You may still get a response, but it could be delayed. For example, the employer could have made an offer to another candidate and is waiting to hear back. The company might be working out the details for onboarding the person they hire, or there could be logistical or budgetary issues that are slowing things down.
What to Do When You Don’t Hear Back
What should you do if you don’t get a response from an employer? The first option is to do nothing, be patient, and wait. If you’re submitting several job applications and attending a lot of interviews, that may be the easiest path to take. This can be especially wise if you’re not 100% sure that this is the best next job for you.
The other option—and it isn’t always easy—is to follow up with the employer to see where you stand. The process will be different depending on whether you’re following up on an application or an interview.
How to Follow Up on an Application
It’s best to wait at least a week or two before you follow up on the status of a job application, as it can take the company at least that long to review applications and start scheduling interviews.
Many job postings don’t list a contact person, so it can be a challenge to find someone to ask about your application. LinkedIn could be a great resource for finding someone on the company’s hiring team.
Here are some ways to find the hiring manager and tips for following up with them.
How to Follow Up on a Job Interview
It’s always a good idea to take the time to write a thank-you note after a job interview. Whether via email or by hand, it’s one of the best ways to follow up. The company may not be making an immediate hiring decision, so don’t panic if you don’t hear back right away. Another option is to call the hiring manager and thank them. This can be a good way to get a feel for whether you’re still in contention for the job.
Don’t Stop Your Job Search
Regardless of whether you choose to wait for an employer's response or to try to prompt an answer yourself, it’s important to keep plugging away at your job search. You don’t want to waste time waiting to hear back from an employer who isn’t interested in hiring you. Instead, keep job hunting until you discover the right opportunity.
It May Not Be About You There are many reasons employers don’t follow up with applicants, and the reason you don’t hear back may have nothing to do with your qualifications for the job.
Follow Up If You Can It may be worth taking the time to follow up on the status of your candidacy if you can get in touch with a decision-maker at the company.
Don’t Cut Your Job Search Short Don’t stop job searching while you’re waiting to hear back from an employer. Keep going until you have a firm offer that you’re comfortable accepting.