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Not Getting Replies from Recruiters? It Might Be Your Fault

07th July 2016

We have all been there before. You send application after application. You meet with recruiters. You make phone calls. Then you wait. And wait. And… nothing.

No response to applications might not be the only frustrating part of finding a new job but, according to respondents to our recent survey (and anyone who has ever applied for a job), it is the most frustrating. But, and this is a big but, if you never get responses to job applications you shouldn’t necessarily blame the employers.

A quick note before I go any further: I’m not saying it’s okay for recruitment agencies or employers to ignore applications. You should always get some form of response - at the very least an acknowledgement of your application and follow up if you aren’t successful. Having said that, it’s all too easy to get upset about the lack of response without looking at the reasons why you didn’t get one.

Taking the time to write an email

Let’s look at a typical example. You are on the hunt for a new role so you browse job boards, pick out a few jobs you think you’re a fit for, and then you take a look at your CV. Once it’s up to date, you create a cover letter in your email drafts and start copying, pasting, and sending mails. Within half an hour you have applied to five or six jobs. Then, two weeks later, you’ve heard nothing and you get angry.

The thing is, you spent 20 mins working on your CV and cover letter and about 30 seconds copying them from one job application to another. You’re asking a company to invest tens of thousands of euro, weeks of training, and responsibility for their brand in you, and you’ve given each job an average of around 360 seconds.

This stuff is important

If that seems like an extreme example, the record for most applications by one person on this website is 147 applications in one day. That’s one every 10 minutes assuming he or she didn’t sleep, eat, or leave the computer for the whole day. Not everybody blanket copies and pastes applications but most people have – I know I have – and we still expect employers to come back to us. Ask yourself, honestly, did you spend enough time on your last application to warrant a reply?

Whether it’s good practice or not to reply to you, did you really give it everything you could have? We regularly advise candidates to tailor every application to the job spec and the employer – that’s not just a trick to help with your application, it’s a way to demonstrate how serious you are about the job. Employers don’t want to hire someone who wants to do a job like theirs, they want the person who really wants their job. Getting that message across starts by investing time and energy in the application.

It probably doesn’t matter

There are plenty of reasons we can give you to explain why you didn’t get a response to your application. Recruiters and hiring managers are snowed under with CVs, they rarely have time to respond to each one. The recruitment process isn’t always simple either, jobs can be put on hold, changed entirely, or simply cancelled – it’s difficult to give an accurate response when you don’t know what’s going to happen. However, the most common reason you didn’t get a response is because you’re not right for the job.

Some of you may be reading this thinking, ‘I do invest time in my applications and I still don’t get responses’. If you put forward the best application you can and you don’t hear back it probably means you weren’t right for the job.

That’s the biggest problem with the ‘no response’ frustration – it’s probably distracting you from something you can fix. It’s possible that, once or twice, you might put in a great application and it gets missed. Most of the time, though, it’s because there’s something missing in either your experience or your application. The fact is if someone flicked a switch that made sure you got a response to every application you ever send, it would probably just mean you got more rejection emails.

Instead of getting frustrated by a lack of response, look at your applications and see how they can be improved. Are you including tangible examples of previous successes? Are you focusing these on the requirements listed in the job spec? Are you making it clear why you’re right for the specific job on offer? Are you giving enough time to each application?

If you do all of that, you may not get more responses, but you will get more interviews.

80% of People Agree

Our most recent employment monitor found that 80% of those surveyed felt the lack of responses to applications is the biggest bug bear when looking for a job. View the report in full to see our other findings. 

View Report
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About the Author

Eoin Keenan

Online Content Editor

Marketing Dept.

As online editor, I write, edit and curate this blog. I'm also responsible for Cpl's social media channels so if you talk to Cpl on social media, you're probably talking to me. I'm determined to create the most useful, interesting and entertaining experience for you on Cpl's digital channels so if you have any feedback please let me know!

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Margaret says:

While I understand everything you say, there is always the plain good manners thing too. I watch my son sending off lots and lots of applications and nothing back. This happened in my day and its still as annoying as it was then. Another pet hate are trial days, cafes etc bring the young people in and they work full days (some even work 2 full days) and no pay and never any contact again. I have watched a couple of businesses that do this and what I can establish from this is that what they are doing is covering holidays. Bad practice and shouldnt be allowed.

01st September 2016

Eoin Keenan says:

Hi Georgina, thanks for commenting, I totally agree with you on the disheartening effect a lack of response can have. It's important to understand, as I said in the post, that you should always get a response - no question. However, recruiters are human and the volume of emails, applications and CVs they deal with means direct or detailed response isn't always possible.

I don't know your partner's situation but based on what you're saying it sounds like he isn't one of the people this blog is really talking about - people who will copy and paste the same application in to every job. IT is an incredibly difficult sector to get into, really competitive, so it may be nothing more than bad luck/timing so far.

As long as he keeps putting together the best, most-targeted, applications he can, focuses on jobs he's a good fit for and keeps persevering, he will get there. I know how easy that is to say and how hard it is to do - I spent 15 months out of work a few years ago and I know how hopeless it can feel. I wish you and him the very best of luck in finding a role and if your partner wants to email me @ directly about any of the roles he has applied for, I'd be happy to do what I can to help.


15th July 2016

Georgina says:

Dear Eoin
I am glad there is finally an explanation from CPL as to why they don't respond sometimes. My partner has been in contact with them several times about finding a job. Apart from the fact he needs to work to support a family, he is also 100% committed to begin a career in IT and despite several attempts at calling or emailing, there has been absolutely no response, no reason and no calls returned. Fair enough he may not be right for the job, however, some communication would be common courtesy when he is making an effort and applying for various jobs. It's completely disheartening and makes us question why we should use recruitment agencies in the first place. I truly hope that some positive changes can be made and they can at least respond in some way shape or form. Regards

15th July 2016

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