Three stupid (and easy-to-fix) reasons why your job applications get no response from employers
Ashley brought me her resume to read. She was looking for an entry-level position in marketing and wasn’t getting any response to her numerous applications. She had studied communications in university, graduated with honours, and had held two internships before and after her studies.
She said that she had written individual, personalized cover letters for each application, and was only applying to jobs for which she was well qualified. And yet, crickets. She said that after sending out ten relevant, tailored applications she hadn’t received a single call back or email from employers.
So I carefully looked over her resume to see if I could determine what the problem was. It was well written. It had an attractive layout with good use of bullets and white space. There was even a positive quote from her boss at one of her internships in the sidebar. A nice touch I thought.
The problem was so obvious that it was actually hard to find. Across the top of the first page she had her name, address, and the job title she was aspiring to. There was no phone number or email address.
“Ashley,” I asked her, “how do you expect employers to get in touch with you without basic contact information? They’re not going to write you a letter.”
She pointed out that she had included her name, phone number and email address in the page header section of the template – but that this was suppressed on the first page. Looking at the second page, I found that indeed there at the top was her email address and phone number in grey font.
The fact that her contact info wasn’t where most people would look for it to be is a problem. If employers are given the impression that you’ve forgotten to include your email and phone number on your resume, their estimation of you will nosedive. If you’d forget such vital information when you’re trying to win the job – what might you overlook once you’ve been hired?
She pointed out that she hadn’t forgotten her contact information – just stylistically chosen to put them somewhere else. I said that it didn’t matter. Employers read resumes quickly, and first impressions stick.
You do often have to send out many applications to land a single interview – so her situation wasn’t unique – but I was fairly certain that this was making it more difficult for her to connect with employers.
Employers may want to hire you – but you’ll never know it
You’ve forgotten to put proper contact information on your resume – or made it hard to find. This was the case with Ashley. Employers scanning her resume wouldn’t easily see how to get in touch with her, and would likely move on. Spellcheck won’t catch an error in an email address or a phone number either, so be sure to proofread those carefully.
I used to get the occasional recruiter calling my cell phone in response to job applications. The catch? I wasn’t applying to jobs at the time, and the calls weren’t for me. Someone named Paul either used to have my phone number and it was still on his resume – or he had made a typo in his phone number so that it became mine. Either way, those were opportunities missed. Spell check won’t catch an error in an email address or a phone number. Double, triple check to make sure those are right.
Your voicemail is full. I’ve seen this happen with more than one candidate I’ve tried to reach out to. You call them and the call goes to voicemail, but the message tells you that their voicemail box is full. That’s because nobody checks their voicemail anymore. People just rely on call display to see who’s called them and then they call back. That is usually fine, but it’s not when you’re looking for jobs.
Perhaps in the future employers will start texting candidates a request to call them for an initial screen, but we’re not there yet. Until then, if you’re looking for a job, put your phone number on your resume and check that voicemail daily.
The employer’s email goes to your spam folder. Employers are generally writing to you from a business address, and they won’t likely be on your contact or safe-sender lists. So while you’re applying for jobs, it’s a good idea to check your spam or junk folders regularly. You might think that you’re not getting a response from employers while their email to you has been caught by your filters.
It took most people surveyed by Workopolis roughly four months to land their most recent job. In order to get hired during those 16 weeks, most people said that they had to submit 10 job applications and conduct two job interviews. A further 30% of people said that they needed to perform five or more job interviews before being hired for their most recent job.
So Ashley’s not alone; finding work can be hard work. Just don’t make it even harder for yourself by missing the sound of opportunity knocking when employers are trying to connect with you.
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