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Not Getting Responses to E-Mail Job Applications?


At Israemploy, the most common complaint that I receive is that candidates don't get responses to their email employment applications.

There are two aspects to this concern:

- Not sure that the email application was delivered

- Can't understand why they didn't get to the next step of the recruitment process

The first point is more of a logistics issue. I used to think that it was trivial for employers to have automatic responses to email job applications acknowledging receipt. Now though, after getting this question so often from job seekers, I wish that all companies would implement some form of automatic receipt of the application, to give peace of mind to candidates (and those that work at Internet job sites). Generally though, the simple response is that if you did not get an error message in response to your application, then you can be confident that your email was delivered as intended.

The more interesting question is what becomes of your email job application once it arrives. The motivation of the second question above is: I feel that I am perfect for the job as described – why am I not getting invited for an interview? This is one of the most critical yet difficult pieces of information to ascertain.

I have been fortunate enough in my role at Israemploy to gain access to H/R decision makers at employers, giving me insights into what is going on behind the scenes, and how decisions are being made regarding whom to move forward with in the recruitment process.

Here are some things I have learned that will hopefully shed some light on this subject. Not all of this will make for pleasant reading, but understanding the reality of the situation is always critical, even if it is not how you wish it to be:

I have lost count of the amount of applications that I have received with no indication of which job is being applied for. I, and most other employers/placement companies, have many job openings at the same time, and if it is not immediately evident which job you are suited for, then usually I will lose interest and move on to the next application.

If there is no cover letter, or it doesn't do a good job of introducing your CV, and I have plenty of other candidates, then there is a good chance that I will invest my time in reading someone else's CV. Use your cover letter to convince the employer that it is worth their while to read your CV.

A corollary to the cover letter explanation is that I am not in favor of including important points in your cover letter that are NOT in your CV as well. The objective of the cover letter is to get someone to read your CV; the goal of the CV is to get called for an interview. Yet, and this may sound contradictory, you absolutely can not be sure that the person that is reading your CV has read your cover letter, or at least read it within a short enough period of time previously that they actually remember its contents. The CV must be considered a stand-alone document, and all of the points you wish to emphasize need to be contained within the confines of this document.

Sometimes, after the employer decides to advertise a position, there is a subsequent decision to stop or freeze the process. Unfortunately, this is not so rare.

Another situation that occurs is when a company belatedly decides to fill a role with an internal candidate. Again, this does regularly occur in large companies.

Do you really meet the job requirements:

I have found that many people that are shocked that they are not getting invited to interviews don't even meet the listed job requirements as published by the employer. Now, there is nothing wrong with applying for a job if you don't meet all of the requirements, as sometimes what the company lists falls more into the category of nice-to-have rather than required. However, at a minimum, if there are one or more items in a job listing which are designated as required and you don't have them, it doesn't make a lot of sense to apply, and it certainly isn't warranted for you to feel slighted afterwards when not hearing from the company.

If a company receives a large quantity of applications from qualified candidates, then meeting the listed job requirements may not be enough. At this point, since the employer needs to reduce the field to a manageable amount of people to invite to interview, they will eliminate from consideration those that meet the requirements, but are still perceived as less capable than others that also applied.

Sometimes there are unwritten job requirements, including age limits or maximum distance from the employer. I have heard some companies say that they won't hire anyone older than 40, and others that won't take someone younger than 30. From the strict sense, this is illegal, but this is not particularly relevant. Companies are cognizant of their current workforce make-up, and one of the factors when choosing a new employee is how that person will fit in. A related point is that businesses that have had poor previous experience hiring a person that lives 50+ kilometers away may well not consider new applicants that live far from them, independent of what the average commute time is for people that live outside of Israel

The candidate arrives late in the recruitment process. Employers oftentimes do not remove their job listings even when they have a short-list of candidates for interview. The faster you can get your application in, the better your chances to receive serious consideration.

For a person applying to jobs they find on Internet sites, a 5-10% response rate (a response for every 10-20 applications) is considered good. Using Internet job sites to apply for jobs is a must in the 21st century, as it is easy and people absolutely do get interviews and jobs that originate from such services. However, for those that are serious about getting access to a larger amount of job opportunities and increasing their success rate (and getting more clarity of their status), combining Internet sites with other job search techniques, especially including networking, is the single most effective step a job seeker can take to improve their interview hit rate.

Ron Machol - Nov 2010

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