Why you never hear back after you apply to jobs online…

Have you ever wondered why you never hear back when you apply to a job online?  This “Black Hole” effect is the enternal frustration of online job seekers, and it’s happened to all of us.  Ok, some companies have gone through the trouble of creating an auto-response ‘thank you’ when you click the submit button, but that’s not really convincing anyone that his application is being considered.  In fact, many of these auto-responders just reinforce the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” message.  We find a job posted that looks absolutely perfect for us, decide to apply, but then hear nothing of the fate of our application.  Why does this happen? Here’s are a few reasons why:

1. Applying online is easy – too easy.  Tons of people do it.  Tons of unqualified people submit applications to jobs they have no hope of getting, and recruiters just don’t have the time to get back to everyone – let alone deliver meaningful feedback.  Besides, what recruiter wants to bother giving meaningful feedback to the applicant who has literally applied to every open position the company has posted?  (This happens!)

2. The job doesn’t really exist.  Many unscrupulous companies post a job not because there’s a real opening but because they want to build a pipeline of candidates for when there WILL be a job.  Not the most ethical practice…

3. The job has changed since it was first posted, and no one’s bothered to update it.  Jobs change all the time, and recuiters often decide that they’ll spend their time looking through the applicants they’ve already gotten rather than make the changes to the job posting and get more applicants.

4. The job isn’t an accurate reflection of the real job.  Sometimes in their haste to get a job “in the system” a recruiter will insert his best approximation of the job description and begin moving forward.

5. The job is already being filled by someone, and the job posting was merely formality.  Applications collected were considered ‘backups.’

Job seekers hate to wait.  They want answers now.  “Did I get the job or didn’t I?  Let me know so I can take the next steps.”  I tell people not to invest a great deal of time in internet job postings because the whole process is nothing more than clicking a button and hoping.  Job seekers have no control.  In an internet job posting, the job seeker is nothing more than a resume – and resumes are easily discarded by recruiters for whatever reason suits them.  In this economy, recruiters are often looking for ANY legitimate reason to make their pile of applications smaller.  Think about this for a minute: the very thing that makes applying online easy (e.g. simply submitting an electronic resume), also makes it easy for recruiters to screen applicants out without feeling any obligation to deliver feedback or explanation.  The process is impersonal, data driven and ruthless.  Applicants invest very little time in expressing their interest in a job; and recruiters invest very little time in telling applicants why they are being rejected.  Convenience has a price.

This is why I say that any serious job seeker should speak for him/herself in a job search.  That means stop relying on your resume to do your marketing for you.  Get out there and make the case in person as to why you are the best person for the job, and you’ll find that recruiters have a much harder time ignoring you.


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