Why don't I hear back from employers when I apply for jobs?

By Hillary Mantis

“Why I am not hearing back from anyone?” Rachel wailed, as she handed me her resume. “What’s wrong with them? It’s so rude to not even let me know that the position is filled.”

She was close to tears as we started to review her resume and cover letter, looking for the underlying reason.

Welcome to the digital age of job searching, Rachel. It’s easy to send out large quantities of resumes via internet postings. And it’s just as easy for employers to only contact the candidates they really want to interview.

So, what’s a job seeker to do?

In this era of email overload, it’s just how some employers have to deal with the volume of resumes they receive for each position. So the first step is to really learn to not take that personally, hard as that may be.

If you are primarily replying to job postings on the internet where you do not know anyone, try to find a connection to the organization, even if it’s a remote one. It’s not that hard via LinkedIn and your school’s alumni directory to search for fellow graduates, or LinkedIn contacts (or contacts of their contacts). If you reach out to them, they might be willing to forward your resume internally to their HR people, putting you in a better position. They might be able to fill you in on the organization as well.

You might not be strategically matching your skills and experience to what the employer’s looking for — where you can honestly do so, try to mirror the language they use and the specific skills they mention in the job listing. Although it’s tempting to forward your resume alone to quickly get it in, it’s worth taking the time to craft a good cover letter.

Quantity can matter less than quality. Rachel complained that she had sent out hundreds of resumes. But in her rush to get a job, she didn’t always take the time to try to target her resume and cover letter to the position. She was sending the same resume and cover letter, perhaps changing a phrase here or there, but not focusing her resume on the job.

Forget about the internet and get out of the house sometimes. Rachel had very limited free time to do her job search, between studying and working long hours at her part-time job. She felt pressured to make time for her job search. But then she signed up for a networking event at the local bar association that was only one evening. She made a few contacts there. Then she signed up for an alumni luncheon held by her school. It included a free lunch and opportunities to talk with alumni.

Guess what? One of the alums just called her in for an interview.


Hillary Mantis consults with law students, pre-law students and lawyers. She is a Director of the Pre-Law Program at Fordham University, and the author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers. You can reach Hillary at altcareer@aol.com