7 reasons you haven't heard back after applying to a job

Amber Shiflett |

You found the perfect job you want, and submitted an application for it. You met all of the qualifications on the job posting. Everything looked good, so you sent it off...and never heard back. 

Has this ever happened to you? Don’t worry; you aren’t alone. But you want to understand the reasons why that happened, so it doesn’t happen again! Let’s break down a few of the top reasons why recruiters never call back...and what you can do about it. 

Too many applicants

Glassdoor wrote that the average job posting receives 250 responses. That’s a crazy amount of competition! There’s no way to know how many people will apply to any open job, so when you fill out an application, make it the best you can. If you want that job, don’t settle for “good enough.” Quality over quantity. Take the time to get it right and you’ll stand out from people who just blast out applications all over town.

Whether you applied to a restaurant, retail store or other business, one thing they all have in common is that their hiring managers are super busy people. Most are working double duty, running the business while also trying to find new employees to hire and train. They simply don’t have the time to call or email everybody back. They’ll only focus on contacting the people whose applications have shown them what they want to see!

Your application has mistakes

Ever fill out an application and leave an area blank? Or maybe you didn’t go through it to check for spelling errors or incorrect information? If so, you’re basically asking the hiring manager to ignore you. 

Most companies spend only a few seconds to scan each application. During this phase they’re looking for reasons to weed applications out. Mistakes and omissions give them the excuse they need to toss your application into the “do not call” pile and move on to the next one. Don’t give them any reason to pass you over!

They already knew who they wanted

Sometimes a business advertises a job because they have to, even though they already knew who they wanted to hire. Maybe they had a candidate in mind (a current employee wanting to shift roles, for example). Unfortunately, you’ll never know...and they aren’t going to tell you. If you feel like you weren’t given a fair chance, learn your Equal Employment Opportunity rights to see if any apply to your situation.

You didn’t meet the specific qualifications

It’s possible that you meet “most” of the listed qualifications for a job, but there could be one or two areas where you were lacking the experience they need the most. It's important to focus your time applying to jobs you’re qualified for. 

Let’s say you’re reading the requirements on a job posting and the employer says they want to hire someone who is bilingual. If you aren’t but you apply anyway, then guess what? There’s a good chance you’ll automatically be put in the “do not call” pile because you didn’t meet the qualifications listed. 

You’re overqualified

Is this really a thing? Yes, actually it is. If you’ve got a college degree but are applying for a job that doesn’t require one, this can raise a flag to a hiring manager or recruiter. Why? Because, in some cases, they might be thinking:  

Why does this person want a job that pays less than they qualify for? 

Will they feel unchallenged here and want to leave for something better? 

Am I going to have to go through this hiring process again in a few months if they quit? 

Apply for jobs that are a good match for your skills and experience level. 

You didn’t follow up

Some companies like it when an applicant follows up. It shows initiative and that you genuinely care about getting that job. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out if you haven’t heard anything in a few weeks. But if they didn’t select you, don’t expect them to tell you why because usually they won’t. Why not? Because from a legal standpoint, the less they say, the better! Also they don’t want to open a window for follow-up questions from people they passed on. 

If you weren’t hired, stay positive! Learn from each application experience and you’ll get better and better.