4 Reasons Your Job Application Isn’t Noticed — And What To Try Instead


It would be great for job seekers if there was a surefire way to guarantee their application leads to a new job. Pinchas is correct in brainstorming on what is keeping his applications from moving forward, so he can adjust what he’s doing. The thing is, there are multiple reasons why your job application goes unnoticed, so you’ll have to correct them all.

People hire people, and people are distinct and unpredictable. What hiring managers and recruiters prioritize can differ even for the same job. In addition, technology impacts the process, such as when a filter is applied to search for a specific keyword or phrase. People use different technology, and people apply technology differently – more variability.

The variability in the hiring process means that you can’t know for sure why your application is selected or not, but here are some reasons to consider and troubleshoot:

1 - You don’t meet the qualifications

An edtech company was hiring for a senior HR generalist, and it so happened that this company was migrating to a new HRIS platform. This made the decision team prioritize HR professionals with systems migration experience and particular experience with the package the company had already selected. Not all HR generalists need systems migration experience, but for this particular role, it was a deal-breaker.

If you had your heart set on landing at this particular edtech, yes, more HRIS experience or even a certification, would have helped. But you might feel like you’re playing whack-a-mole if you try to fill in every gap in your background when compared to all the job postings you see. Desired qualifications vary company by company. If you see multiple roles that you want asking for the same skill or certification you are lacking, then by all means fill that gap. Just recognize that this may not be the only issue.

2 - Your cover letter doesn’t entice the reader to look further

Not every employer asks for a cover letter. Not every cover letter gets read. However, cover letters can be particularly helpful in explaining gaps in employment, career changes, or other nontraditional detours in your background. In this way, they play a different, complementary role to your resume.

Given this important role and that cover letters in general are an additional opportunity for you to tell your story, it pays to know how to write a persuasive cover letter. The best cover letters are tailored to the specific company and specific role, so they take time to craft. This means there’s a trade-off between how quickly you can submit your application versus how much tailoring you can do to your cover letter. Invest the time and effort for your dream companies and roles, and use a standard template for the rest. You want to maintain a good balance between the quality and quantity of your applications.

3 - Your resume didn’t entice the reader to invite you for an interview

Companies can receive dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of resumes for a single opening. Realistically, the resume screener will spend a few seconds just skimming before making a decision to dig in further or pass. Is your resume easy to skim with dates, companies, and titles easy to pick out? Is the format inviting for the eyes or so cluttered that the reader is discouraged to continue? Do you have brand name employers and education that will be familiar to the reader?

Applications are often filtered by specific keywords. Does your resume include the keywords and phrases that decision-makers use when hiring for the roles you want? Do you know what those important search terms are, and do you include them in your descriptions? If you’re coming for a different industry or role, have you translated your experience such that your new target will see your background is relevant?

4 — Unsolicited applications aren’t reviewed

Even if you have a crystal-clear resume, a compelling cover letter, and qualifications that meet the requirements for the role, you still might not get noticed if your application goes unread. (This is why applying to job postings is not enough to land your dream job!) A company can hire in multiple ways –an employee referral, a candidate networking their way in, or an existing employee applying internally. If the company finds what they need without going through dozens, hundreds, or thousands of applications submitted to a job posting, then it may do that to save time and effort.

Many recruiters kick off a search, not by perusing the existing candidate database, but by searching on LinkedIn. Will they find you there? Is your LinkedIn profile optimized – i.e., clear, compelling, and relevant to the roles you want?

A thorough job search needs quality and quantity

Since you can’t guarantee that even a strong application gets seen, you need to put as many applications in play as possible. Yes, focus on quality because you want to present yourself at your best. But also focus on quantity, so that you have enough opportunities in your pipeline that your job search maintains momentum forward, even if any one application falls through the cracks.

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