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What to do when you don't hear back on a job application

What to do when you don't hear back on a job application

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Waiting to hear back about a job you’ve applied for can be frustrating. It can feel even harder when you’re facing time pressure, when the job market is challenging or if you’re applying for multiple jobs in a row. Feeling like you’re not in control can be one of the hardest things about this situation.

But there are a few things you can do to take action – which could help you feel less anxious, as well as help you to get a response.

Here’s what you can do and what to keep in mind when you’re not hearing back.

When it’s time to take action

Ongoing silence is your cue to take charge of the process, says Colin Mathieson, managing director at Alpha Recruitment.

“If I hadn’t heard back in 10 days, I would be picking up the phone,” says Mathieson.

Of course, every situation is different. The employer might include information on the job ad about if or when applicants can expect to hear back. But that’s not always the case, and in peak periods it could take weeks for applications to be reviewed.

If you’re at the stage where you’ve already had an interview, that makes things different again – see these tips on how to follow up after an interview.

Steps you can take:

  1. Make a call
    If you want to know more about where your application is at, you could make contact with the person responsible for filling the role. “If I hadn’t heard back in 10 days, I would be picking up the phone,” says Mathieson. Find out who the best person to call is in your case – it could be a recruitment agent, the employer or a hiring manager. Make the call and ask if it’s a convenient time to speak, or when you can call back. You could also leave a message. Let them know you’ve applied for the job, and how interested you are in it and the company. You can ask what the timeframe is for filling the position. You could also briefly state a bit about your skills via a quick elevator pitch.

    Phone calls like this can be nerve-racking, but writing out some notes to follow can help. For example: Hi [Employer’s name], my name is [Your name]. I sent in an application for the [Job title] role recently. I wanted to see if a decision has been made? I’m really interested in the job and how I could bring my [Your skills/experience] to it. If you need any more information from me, just let me know.
     
  2. Reach out via email
    Sometimes it’s hard to get the right person on the phone. In this case, email could be your best option. Shay Peters, associate director at recruiter Robert Walters, recommends emailing the actual person handling the job rather than a generic catch-all email address, if you can.

    Your email should be short, professional and include a few key details. Make the subject line the title of the job you applied for. In the email, again state the job you applied for plus how you applied and when. Explain that you’re interested in the position and the company. You could ask if your application was received, if there are any updates on recruitment or what the timeline for filling the role is. Include a brief mention of your skills or a few key reasons you’d be great for the role, say you can provide further information if needed and include your phone number.

    To get you started, here’s an email template you can use to follow up after a job application:

    Hi [Name]

    I applied for the position of [Job Title] via SEEK two weeks ago. I wanted to follow up to see if my application was received and check on the timeline for filling the role.

    I’m very enthusiastic about the prospect of joining [Company name] and contributing my [describe your skills or experience] to [describe what the role involves].

    Please let me know if I can provide any further information that would be helpful to you. I can be reached on [Your phone number].

    Best regards,

    [Your name]
     
  3. Find a connection 
    If you have a connection to the company or employer, it could be worth getting in touch. Depending on how well you know them, you could use that person as an informal referee, or ask if they can offer any insight on the role. Try checking your social and professional network for connections to see if you have any mutual contacts.
     
  4.  Let them know of other offers
    If you find yourself in a position where you’re speaking with another company about a job, not hearing back could make it tricky for you to decide which way to go. So, if you do have a genuine offer on the table, tell the recruiter or employer, Matheison says. “It tells the market that you are actively looking and getting some response.”

    If you still don’t hear back after taking these steps, it could be best to turn your time and energy toward finding other opportunities.

Remember:

  • Be professional: keep any communication simple and polite. It’s best not to follow up repeatedly – you want to show you’re interested, not come across as pushy.
     
  • There are lots of reasons you might not hear back: it doesn’t mean your application wasn’t good enough. The company’s hiring plans may have changed, or there could be hold ups on their end.
     
  • Your skills are valuable: not hearing back could make you doubt yourself. But remember, no matter your experience, you have valuable skills to offer an employer.
     
  • Keep your search going: it’s great to be focused, but it’s also worth keeping your job search going until you lock in a new role. Update your SEEK Profile to include key terms employers look for, and set up saved searches that can alert you to new opportunities as they come up.
     
  • Continue the contact: even if you’re not successful, let the organisation know you’d love to work there. Ask questions: Were there any key qualifications or skills that you could work on? How could you improve your resume? This shows you’re keen and willing to improve. A similar role could come up down the track, and you can put yourself in a better position for it by getting feedback.
     
  • Be kind to yourself: you might feel like refreshing your inbox constantly or putting things off while you wait for the phone to ring. But job searching can take time, so it’s important to look after yourself. Set times during the day to devote to your job search and work in breaks for doing things that make you feel good.

It can be disheartening when you don’t hear back about a job you’ve applied for. But by taking these actions, you can channel your energy into something productive and be a step closer to knowing whether to pursue this role or focus on another.

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