How often have you wondered why employers don’t respond to job applications? You read through the job posting. Twice. Your skills and work experience are a perfect match for the responsibilities of the position you’re applying for. You take the time to carefully craft job applications that rivals any Academy Award–winning speeches. You follow the submission process down to the last detail. You hit send and you wait.
But you never hear back from the company you applied for. Sadly, not responding to job applications has become a growing trend among companies. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 25 percent of those surveyed said that they never received an acknowledgment after submitting job applications, or worse, were not informed about the hiring manager’s decision after an interview. And to add insult to injury, a staggering 75 percent of participants claimed that they hadn’t heard back from at least one employer in the past year.
Is it simply that employers are rude, or is there something bigger at play here? We decided to find out, straight from the hiring managers’ mouths.
We asked them why employers don’t respond to job applications. Here’s what they had to say—anonymously, of course.
Providing Feedback Has Legal and Liability Implications
“I agree that it would be beneficial for a candidate to get feedback from potential employers,” said one former hiring manager. “But it is rare for someone being interviewed to receive specific feedback on how they did because of the legal implications involved and the potential liability the person sharing the information might incur.”
Candidates Don’t Always Commit “Obvious” Mistakes
“Hiring is often subjective,” he continued. “Candidate A was more likable than Candidate B, Candidate B answered questions with better examples than Candidate C, and so on. It is often not that a candidate not hired committed an obvious mistake—perhaps a lot of little ones. It is that another person did better, and since the candidate desiring feedback wasn’t part of the other candidate’s interview, it makes it difficult to provide feedback without seeming arbitrary.”
Individual Hiring Managers Often Need Team Approval
Said another hiring manager: “Hiring is often a team sport, meaning that I might like a candidate, but the decision of the team is a different candidate. This, too, will complicate the feedback to a candidate.”
Employers Prefer Hiring Someone They Know or Who Comes Recommended
Another hiring manager had this to say: “The real reason that people do not reply to applicants is the ‘general applicants’ are likely coming from the third or fourth tier quality of the job leads I get. The best people to hire are ones I have worked with before, and the second best are those who are recommended by people I know and respect. And the third tier are people I may meet at networking events.”
The general consensus from the hiring managers we interviewed was that they don’t respond to the majority of the job applications they receive because of the job applications—and the candidates themselves. From not reading the job posting correctly and submitting inaccurate info, to applying for a position that they are not nearly qualified for, many hiring managers opt to directly delete those applications since they feel that the job seeker didn’t take the time to accurately assess his skills and apply for the job properly.
Recruiters May Be Strapped for Time
Said this hiring manager: “Many hiring managers don’t follow up because there’s simply not enough time. For each job that we post, there may be hundreds of job applications. Answering each and every one of those would be a full-time job in and of itself.”
Hiring Decisions Are Made Based on Intangibles
And an (honest) hiring manager added this: “One reason I wouldn’t get back to someone is if I had to tell them something that they couldn’t ‘fix,’ such as their personality. If I didn’t like them, I’m not going to respond back. You don’t want to offend the person—or argue with him—so you stay quiet.”
What Do Employers Recommend If You Don’t Hear Back?
So let’s say that you’re an amiable person with the skills and experience you need for a position—but you still don’t hear back. What should you do? Well, one recruiter suggested creating a post-interview checklist, where the candidate self-assesses how she did in the critical areas of the interview. You would need to develop a list of all of the aspects that are part of the job interviews (such as quality of examples given, amount of research done that proved relevant, attire, rapport built with the interviewer, etc.). While this requires you to be objective, this might be the best way for you to determine (in lieu of speaking with the actual hiring manager) just how well you did—and what you can do better next time.