Employers Aren’t Responding to Your Job Applications? 12 Reasons Why

You asked; we responded. Virtual Vocations jobseekers want to know why employers aren’t responding to their applications. We give you 12 surprising reasons, and we give them to you straight.

Employers Aren’t Responding to Your Job Applications? 12 Reasons Why

One of the top questions our Virtual Vocations jobseekers ask is, “Why aren’t employers responding to my job application?”

It’s unnerving to put so much work into a job search without getting any hits. At some point, you start thinking, “At least tell me I didn’t get the job!”

It’s normal to come up with excuses, such as the application didn’t go through, the website doesn’t work, or the recruiters have no idea what they’re doing. You’re just waiting for someone to get back to you and say, “It’s not you, it’s me.” However, the job search process is a two-way street.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5.8 million job openings at the end of 2017. With so many vacancies, why aren’t companies rushing to contact eligible candidates? The answer may be more technical than subjective. Here are some of the top reasons why employers may not respond to your application.

1. Your Voicemail Box Is Full

Make sure your voicemail box is set up and has room to receive new messages. Note that some smartphones store deleted messages in a separate folder in case you accidentally deleted them. Be sure to clear your deleted messages folder to ensure you have adequate space on your phone.

Tip: Create a custom voicemail greeting instead of using the standard automated default. Keep it simple, but let recruiters hear your voice and gain confidence that you’re a real person.

2. Your Emails Go to Spam

Check your spam folder for emails that look like responses from employers. Be careful, however, as some phishers disguise themselves as well-known companies or small businesses owners with fake employment opportunities. Scan your junk box periodically and attempt to add known email addresses to your contacts.

Tip: Create a filter or label for inbound emails that contain keywords, such as the company name, job title, or job post number to help you spot misplaced messages.

3. Your Contact Information Is Incorrect

Double-check your contact information for accuracy. We get so used to typing our names and email addresses that it’s easy to overlook typos. Carefully proofread your cover letter, resumé, LinkedIn profile, application forms, and input fields on submission websites.

Tip: When applying for telecommuting jobs, you can limit your personal information for security purposes. For instance, you can omit your street address, cell phone number, and personal email address. Instead, you can include your city and state of residence, a third-party phone number (e.g., Skype or Google Voice), and alternate email address. You can always update your contact information when you land the job.

4. You Didn’t Follow Instructions

Carefully read all submission instructions. If you miss just one step, recruiters may disregard your entire application. Note that different employers may require different information. For example, some may ask you specific questions and request samples of past work. By omitting such requests, you may demonstrate carelessness and lack of attention.

Tip: Set aside time each day or week to apply for new jobs. The application process involves much more than emailing a resumé and cover letter. Start off on the right foot by thoroughly reviewing your application materials before you submit.

5. You Didn’t Click “Submit”

Is it possible that you clicked “Save” instead of “Submit”? Even worse, is it possible that you clicked “Cancel”? Log into the job application portal and check your application history. Check your draft email box to ensure you sent all direct applications. Also, scan your inbox for automatic confirmation emails from online submissions.

If you’re unsure, you could call or send a follow-up email directly to the human resources department or recruiter. However, the chances of getting a response are slim.

Tip: Treat your job search like a project and document your completed applications. For example, keep a spreadsheet with columns for “Employer,” “Job Title,” “Link to Job Post,” and “Application Submit Date.” You might also want to create a general application checklist. A streamlined personal tracking system can help you hold yourself accountable and avoid simple mistakes.

6. You Don’t Meet Geographic Requirements

Though many employers allow telecommuters to work anywhere in the world, some assign geographic restrictions on certain positions. For example, an IT firm may need a Telecommute Customer Support Representative to answer calls during regular business hours in a particular time zone. A medical equipment company may require a Telecommute Account Manager who lives within a defined radius of a sales territory.

Though it never hurts to apply to jobs with geographic restrictions, don’t bank on getting a response. Spend more time applying to positions within your state or with “100% Telecommute,” “100% Virtual,” or “Work from Anywhere” keywords in the job description.

Tip: Use the Telecommute Status filter in the Virtual Vocations Job Database to limit or expand your search geographically. You can also use the search bar to find openings in your state of residence.

7. Your Resumé Looks Messy

You can boast the most prestigious educational background and previous work experience, but if your resumé is unorganized and difficult to read, employers won’t notice qualifications. Present yourself well by delivering a clean, easy-to-read document that highlights your strengths.

If you need help, send your resumé over to our Professional Resumé Review service team. Our experts will help polish your document so that you stand out from the crowd.

Tip: Know your audience and design a resumé that’s suitable for your industry and job category. Though fancy-looking resumés are fun to create, they don’t necessarily give you an edge. Research employers and determine whether a traditional or more creative document makes sense.

8. You Seem Underqualified

When you read a new job description, you may instantly say, “Yes! This is the job for me! I’m definitely qualified for this position.” However, your application may not prove that you meet the job requirements.

Make sure your cover letter, resumé, and other materials closely match the job description. Recruiters don’t waste time guessing or connecting the dots. So, make their job easier by doing most of the legwork for them. Tailor your application with keywords and industry-specific language so that recruiters clearly see that you are a perfect fit.

Tip: Recruiters take only six seconds to glance at a resumé and determine whether it’s worth diving into further. Learn how recruiters evaluate resumés so that you can make the most important content easy to find.

9. You Seem Overqualified

If your credentials surpass the job requirements, recruiters might pass over your application. It’s not that companies don’t want highly qualified candidates, but they may not have the budget to attract and keep top talent.

When you find jobs that align with your career path or lifestyle goals, you can always scale back your self-marketing. However, never sell yourself short. Instead of settling for what’s easy or available, dig deeper and find employers who need and value your expertise.

Tip: Parents, caregivers, entry-level candidates, and professionals changing careers are often tempted to undersell themselves due to a lack of confidence and for the sake of time flexibility. Realize that employers have more vacancies than qualified job applicants these days. No matter your situation, there are always hundreds of telecommuting jobs that match your level and offer fair compensation.

10. Your File Type Is Wrong

Most employers use applicant tracking systems (ATSs) to accept and filter resumés online. Unfortunately, ATSs don’t accurately process PDF documents. Therefore, when you upload your beautiful PDF on a job application website, the ATS may not be able to read your PDF’s text, or it may scramble the text and make it incomprehensible.

To play it safe, create a resumé specially formatted for ATSs using Microsoft Word or other word processing software. Make sure the file extension meets the ATS’s requirements. Our experts recommend using “.doc” instead of “.docx” for ATS submissions. You can still email PDF versions directly to recruiters but keep an ATS-compatible version handy when uploading to websites.

Tip: Keep the formatting of your ATS version simple and clearly define sections, such as work experience, education, and skills. It’s advised to use all-caps for ATS section headings so that the system can correctly categorize the information.

11. You Didn’t Include a Cover Letter

When an employer tells you that a cover letter is optional, should you include one anyways? Our Virtual Vocations experts say “yes.” A cover letter or email should always accompany your resumé, even if an employer doesn’t mention or require it.

Your resumé is a technical specification sheet, where your cover letter is a narrative that introduces your professional persona and mission. Use your cover letter to demonstrate your personality but avoid overly casual statements. Though some virtual companies welcome humorous and relaxed communication, research the employer thoroughly to gauge the acceptable level of informality.

Tip: Match the formatting and tone of your cover letter to that of your resumé. Think of your application materials as a marketing package so that you deliver a clear, consistent message to employers.

12. Your Job Search Is Misaligned

Let’s not forget the elephant in the room: It’s possible that you aren’t compatible with the positions you seek. Incompatibility doesn’t imply that you’re not good enough, but it does mean that the jobs are out of scope for you right now.

When’s the last time you sat down and evaluated your career and life goals? Do the jobs you apply to align with your goals? Do they offer you the compensation, benefits, schedule flexibility, and work style that you prefer? If so, then you may need to learn how to market yourself more strategically. If not, then it’s time to bunker down, identify what’s most important to you, state clear intentions, and create a strategic trajectory toward your goals.

Tip: Telecommuting offers you the opportunity to pursue your dreams and carve your own path. Spend some quality time reflecting and envisioning your ideal life. Measure job opportunities against your personal and professional goals instead of changing your goals to match a particular job.

Ignite Your Online Job Search

It takes three to six weeks to get a job offer, according to MRINetwork’s 2016 Recruiter and Employer Sentiment Study. Such weeks can feel like years when you’re ready to make a change.

Although it’s normal to feel discouraged during a job search, it’s destructive to let discouragement take over your mind. Avoid staying down in the dumps by assessing your applications and committing to continuous improvement. Seek help from our experts when you get stuck and sign up as a Virtual Vocations Member to streamline your process and gain access to employers who seek qualified candidates just like you.

Have you been worried that employers aren’t responding to your job applicationsShare your answer when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credits: 1.iStock.com/cosmonaut; 2. iStock.com/vgajic


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