3 Reasons You Didn’t Hear Back on Your Job Application – and How to Fix It!

WorkCoachCafeEver applied for a job and never heard back? This is an all-too common experience shared by job applicants of all levels of experience — from recent grads to 6-figure executives.

It can be disheartening. It can feel awful. It can make you feel small – especially if you’ve had a successful interview.

It may make you feel like giving up your job search. Only you can’t. And shouldn’t. It’s just like dating: Should you give up trying to meet someone just because you haven’t met the right person yet?

Here are three common occurrences and reasons why you may not have heard back – and how you can fix it:

  1. The organization’s needs or budget changed after they posted the job listing.This happens all the time and has nothing to do with you or any of the other applicants. Hiring managers, senior leaders, human resources change directions due to internal budgeting, staff transitions, unexpected increases or decreases in customer spending, or demand on their services.Key indicator that this may have happened: A job very similar to the one that you applied to is re-posted on the company’s website.How to Fix This: Follow up with the person or office specified in the original job announcement. Express your continued interest in the job (if appropriate) and ask if you should reapply. If you don’t hear back, apply again anyway.

  2. Your application was never reviewed.A recent infographic in The Wall Street Journal presented a scary statistic:Human eyes may never read as many as 25 out of a 100 job applications. The biggest reason? The resume is missing the keywords scanned and ranked by the recruiting software used by companies for the online application process.How to Fix This:  Make sure you use the right keywords for the job in your resume, and apply for jobs as soon as you see them posted. Here’s a quick way you can make sure you’re spot-on: see these instructions on how to view the most important keywords for the job in a tag cloud. Often, hiring managers make their interview list after their first review of applications for a job – and they don’t always go back in the applicant pool for more information.
  3. Another candidate received a referral for the job – and had similar (or more) experience than you did.You’ve heard the statistics: If a current or past employee recommends you for a job, you have a better chance of getting the job.How to Fix This:If you have a contact at the company or know someone who has offered to recommend you for the position – name drop immediately – even in the first sentence of your cover letter. Through my friend ___________, I learned of your need to hire for ______ position.Don’t know anyone? Scour your LinkedIn network or get busy on Facebook and Twitter. Because messages are visible, many organizations place a high priority on responding to messages as part of corporate brand management and recruiting programs.


    On Facebook: Like the Company, then make a comment on their corporate wall, or use tools to send them a message online.

    On Twitter: Use Twitter’s Advanced Search function to find corporate Twitter accounts for recruiters – example “company name” and “recruiter” or “talent acquisition” and send an @reply expressing your interest/enthusiasm for the company to a recruiter. Example @_________ congratulations for the shout-out on Best 100 places to Work List. What’s the best way to learn more about how to join you?” (If currently employed, change the message tone and ask a subtle question – what are top trends in their field, etc.)

Want to see more on this topic? Check out Ten Reasons Out of Your Control as employers consider your application and Ten Things You Can Control. It’s easier to control many of these variables than you might think: in fact, I’ve found that the mere act of sending a thank you note *after* you received a rejection can increase your chances of getting hired with the same employer in the future. I once was invited back to interview again — and was hired — a year after I was rejected for the same position!


  1. I have been applying for nonprofits jobs for two months straight. I have had interviews and phone interviews but have not been hired. I currently work a job I am not satisfied with (i have been here for two years, since I graduated college). I have a degree and in my opinion my resume is awesome! But there is always someone one step ahead of me and it is very discouraging. Recently, I was interviewed for a position at United Way but did not get the job (that brought me down), but there is another opening for a position at United Way but at a different location. I applied there too. I worked very hard on my cover letter and sent in writing samples as requested. I also contacted the president of my college asking him to write me a letter of recommendation for me to give me an extra boost. He said he would be delighted to recommend me. I used to work in his office when I was a student. I am hoping this will make me stand out in the crowd and at least get me another interview. I have followed up by sending a letter to HR person at United Way. Since I have followed up on Monday should I follow up again maybe on Friday? Do you think the fact that the president of my college is writing me a letter of recommendation will boost my chances?

    • chandlee says:


      I think current volunteer work in a leadership capacity for a non-profit would boost your chances more than any recommendation will — though it sounds impressive and positive to get a recommendation from a college president.

      Keep up the search, clearly employers are impressed with your overall experience — the job market is simply competitive and it does take time for things to get through.

      Good luck and keep us posted.

      All the Best,

      • Thanks Chandlee!

        And I sent her current writing samples for a nonprofit I am working with on the side. I do some volunteer work and am helping raise awareness for this organization. So I write new releases and send them to local newspapers and I look for clips online. So I did mention that as well.

        Maybe all of these things will make an impression!

        I love this website and the advice. It is really encouraging!

      • chandlee says:

        Thanks and good luck Mo!


  2. Small dilemma…

    OK so I’m not sure if I mentioned this but… working for United Way is my dream job. So I’ve applied to United Way’s EVERYWHERE. Well today, I get a call from a United Way and get scheduled for an interview. I ended up turning the interview down, one reason is because it is three hours away from where I currently live, which I don’t have a problem relocating, except the position is only part time.

    The other United Way position I applied for I still haven’t heard back from. I sent my application in on July 16th. I received an e-mail back from HR on July 18th asking for writing samples. In the e-mail I included everything requested but she overlooked it. She apologized in another for her error so I sent her a recent writing sample (I’m working with a local charity and have written releases for them). I didn’t hear anything back. On July 23rd I sent a follow up letter (by mail) and then on Tuesday July 24th I get a call back from my college president’s secretary. She told me he had written my letter of recommendation and was going to mail it out the next day (July 25th). I’m not sure if they have gotten the letter or not (I hope so).

    Should I try to follow up again with a phone call or wait til next week?

    • chandlee says:

      Hi Mo,

      A follow-up call next week to confirm the writing sample sounds perfect. Good luck and keep us posted.

      All the Best,

      • Uh-oh… I just checked their website and it looks like they have taken down the ad for the position. I applied on the 16th and have not heard back. Does this mean they’ve already hired someone???

      • I’m really anxious now… should I call?

      • chandlee says:

        Yes Mo,

        I recommend you call and follow-up. Don’t leave a message. Ask to speak to someone. If they’ve hired someone else, rest easy in the knowledge that you have done all you can.


      • I was checking my e-mail again and forgot about this automated response I received from United Way…

        “Our selection process may take several weeks; however, if you have not been contacted within (30) days you may assume either that we have no current openings commensurate with your skills and experience or that we have decided to pursue other candidates. We certainly appreciate your interest in employment with United Way and we wish you the very best in your future endeavors.”

        Maybe I should wait a little longer before calling… I may call Friday or Monday. I’ve already followed up by e-mail and by mail.

        What do you think?

      • Hi Mo,

        Ask the college president’s office who they sent the letter to before you call so you know if they used a name or a title. Then, you can follow up with that person.

        I concur with Chandlee’s recommendation. Call and ask to speak with someone about whether or not they have everything they need so you can help them if they need any help.

        They have been in touch with you and should have received that very important letter of recommendation, so the 30 day waiting period doesn’t apply to you. Make sure they have what they need to thoroughly consider your candidacy for their position.

        Good luck!

  3. Thank you Susie and Chandlee! I called and Friday and reached her vm–I left a message anyway. I e-mailed this morning and got a response… this is what she said:

    “Thanks for your inquiry – we are reviewing applicants and should have a better picure by next week of any next steps. We do have all of your information in review.”

    Maybe I will know more by next week! Who knows? I may have an interview!

    Thank you for the advice! 🙂

  4. I believe there is no need to list the top n reasons why you do not “get” a call back, but it suffices to list the top one reason.
    In my mind the top reason is that there is a gap in what employers want and what applicants have to offer. What is worrisome is that no TRAINING is offered for most positions, and most employers are looking for the PERFECT candidate at a SUB-MARKET cost.
    I believe these reasons are what foster unemployment. Training may be another form of investment for a firm. Instead it is perceived as a waste of resources.

    • Deu,

      That’s one way to look at. I offer a couple of others — many of which I’ve seen as a recruiter:

      1. You didn’t send a thank you note.*
      2. You didn’t show that you have the flexibility and initiative to pursue the knowledge you need to know on your own if it’s something you could train yourself on. My favorite resource: YouTube training videos.*
      3. The organization’s hiring needs changed. This happens often and has nothing to do with candidates. Often it’s because of restructuring, budgets, etc.
      4. Someone else did more research on the company, and convinced the employer that they had a more thorough understanding of what the job would entail.*

      *These are things job seekers can control, the volume of candidates in a particular search is something you cannot. But if you do the items on the *list, you may see your offers improve — if you haven’t taken these steps already.

      Good luck,

      • Dorla Smith says:

        Another consideration for job seekers to Non Profit organizations that are federally funded, is the requirement of mandatory posting all job vacancies even if they have already identify an internal candidate for the position. It is unfortunate that as job seekers we have to follow all the protocol of applying for a position and not know if the position posted is open to external candidates. It would be prudent to ask HR if they have already screened all qualified internal candidates.

        Best Wishes

      • Dorla,

        If you have an inside track or someone in your LinkedIn network, you can ask if a vacancy is real or not. The silver lining of applying anyway — if an internal candidate is hired, there is likely to be another vacancy…and often applications on file are looked at for that.

        Good luck and all the best,

  5. Hello Chandlee,
    Here is my situation. I did a phone interview 2.5 weeks ago with a big pharma company. Interview went fine. The interviewer told me I will hear back from their HR within 2 weeks. I sent a thank you note to the interviewer on the day of the interview and did not get any response. I have not yet got any response back and I feel silly to do a follow-up given I received no response to my thank you letter (I did not have the interviewer`s email address but got it via an employee that happens to be a friend`s friend.) The interviewer is not HR, but hiring manager.
    I dont know what I should and feel anxious. The job position has been removed from the day they selected which candidates they will start interviewing via a phone – so I assume they received many applications and perhaps the phone interview process is taking longer.
    In your experience, do companies also avoid notifyîng the phone interviewers that are not selected for face-to-face interview, till they select the candidate they are looking for?
    thanks a lot,

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