The Job Search: Why aren’t you getting any calls back?

APPLICATION, job search, jobs industry, hiring cycle, rejection, no calls back, resume, talent acquisition, employee turnover, seasonal hiring,


The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a serious toll on our economy. And for so many, it has also taken away the jobs that they’ve relied on for more than twenty years. Many of these people were so secure in their positions that they never would have imagined seeking new employment — especially so late in their careers. But, the truth is, the world will never be the same. And unfortunately, the unimaginable has become imaginable.

So, what do they do? They apply for one position after another to regrettably never get a word back. In some cases, they might receive a batched email, or an email stating that they were no longer being considered for that position and that someone else was a better match. No additional details are available, and the sender is unavailable for response.

Hold tight to your confidence, because the reality is — it’s not always you, it could also be them.

The job industry has changed so drastically in the past decade, and each year it shifts even further to the left. Hiring managers are less hands-on than they used to be, and automated filters are pulling the most qualified candidates from a pool with an average of 200 or more per position.

The first thing you want to remember is that, number one, we are in a growing pandemic. So, while you might be seeing jobs being posted, it doesn’t actually mean that the company is hiring. There are many different reasons the company may still be posting jobs — some of them might not even be aware. In other instances, it might be you — so, what can you do to prepare?

The pandemic’s role in a remote workforce.

As you might already know, there is a growing concern with people actually going to work. Bills need to be paid, businesses need to run. But unless the company is able to provide reasonable accommodations for social distancing, liabilities make operations almost near impossible.

Companies have extended operations to allow employees to work from home. But, productivity continues to be a major concern. Sure, you’re seeing jobs being posted. But, unless you have worked with that company before — or have previous experience working remotely — you could be overlooked and never given consideration for any of the roles that you might apply.

Many of these companies are hiring from within. They have no interest in training or retraining individuals that could quit within a week — or those that could take trade secrets elsewhere. Their fear is with governance, overseeing new hires. Some companies are downsizing and might actually be behind in orienting those new hires.

Seasonal job postings are automated.

Believe it or not, there is actually a pattern in the recruitment of new hires. In a normal hiring cycle, the best seasons for this are in winter and fall. Large companies, who recruit in-house, may automate their hiring cycles. They understand normal turnover and want to save not just time, but also money, in continuing their efforts.

They have ongoing memberships with job sites and, therefore, listings. It is quite possible that the jobs you see posted were actually posted last year but not visible until now. The sad news is that with so many doors closing, those companies may no longer even exist and no one has ended this service.

The HR Department has been downsized.

As addressed earlier, there are a lot of companies closing doors and downsizing. There may be fewer people “in-office,” and they may be behind. We’re seeing a trend in one or two individuals taking on the workload for a former staff of twenty. They not only have to train and recruit a remote workforce, but they have to continue human resources work as usual.

Not all recruiters are legit — not all recruiters have your interests at heart.

There are some people out there that are just downright evil. They will pose as a recruiter to bar you from behind hired. Or, they really are a recruiter and trying to vie for top dollar.

When approached with an opportunity, your first response might be to apply — especially if you believe you have an advocate, working on your behalf. You respond with a “yes” and quickly follow up, eager for a reply. You fit all the criteria and send over your resume right away. Now, your only enemy is time. So, then, you wait.

You check in with the recruiter, who continues to stall by saying the client is still trying to decide. But little did you know, that same recruiter had you agree to not work with another, as they keep demand low and refer their friends — with compensation at an all-time high.

You see, with a lack of demand, there is more room for negotiation. With less competition, their referrals are more likely to get the position and they’re more likely to be paid. And, you’re left in the dark, wondering “why?”.

Not all recruiters are equal. Some are good and some are bad. But, this is just one more reason why you’re not hearing back.

Companies are building pipelines and succession plans.

As earlier discussed, some companies have automated their hiring cycles. There are some, however, that are simply building their pipelines and preparing their annual succession plans. In the event they lose an executive, they want to have another, who is qualified to take their place. The crazy part is that these managers tend to be hands-on and spend time vetting their talent. On the downside of this process, so much talent falls to the side.

There are regulatory guidelines and rules to be followed.

Although illegal, there are institutions that already know who they will hire. They hire from within. They hire their families. They hire people, who aren’t necessarily qualified, and they do it with little consequence.

In many industries, companies and organizations are required to recruit externally. Guidelines suggest that the public needs to be made aware of any position that becomes available to avoid fraud, nepotism and exclusion. Many will bypass these regulations by posting a position and carrying out the hiring process — not actually serious about hiring any of the candidates.

Likewise, due to the pandemic, there is a rumor that companies are using these same practices to avoid paying back paycheck protection programs (PPP) and have even blamed unemployment incentives for being the reason. The word on the street is that they are taking government funding and using it to expand the business but freezing all hiring while saying that no one applies.

Whether true or not, you will always find corruption where others have to gain from others’ misfortune.

Your resume, ATS and previous experience.

Should the above reasons not pertain to your personal job search, it might be you, after all. How long has it been since you last had your resume written? What format are you using, and are you using enough keywords to get you through automated filters?

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) have been widely adopted by companies in the last five years or so. Resumes saved in the wrong format with few actual keywords and too many graphics won’t even be seen by the hiring manager. In fact, on average, 80 to 90% of a position’s top candidates will never be seen for this reason.

If you’ve worked in the same position for too long, show more than ten years of work experience, if your contact information is wrong — these are other reasons you might not be getting a callback. You might be overqualified for a position, aren’t emphasizing impact or achievement and could be dating yourself. Ageism is against the law, but ageism still exists.

At the end of the day, your bills still need to be paid. So, what can you do?

After all is said and done, you still need to find stable employment. Your bills aren’t going away, and your family needs to be fed. With desperate times, there will be desperate measures.

So, here’s what I would do:

  1. Invest in a professional resume writer (if you can afford it) and make sure your resume is optimized for job search engines.
  2. Leverage your social media and network within your groups.
  3. Get a LinkedIn profile and initiate the dialog between yourself, executives and hiring managers.
  4. Continue to apply, but be sure to follow-up — call them if you have to.
  5. Make sure your skills are constantly refreshed. This pandemic has caused dystrophy of our general work skills. Gain additional training and certification that would move you into the next phase of your career.
  6. Hide all dates where possible, and be careful not to disclose too much.
  7. Breath, rest and laugh… You need to take care of yourself, so you can be on top of your game.

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