Searching for a job today can be pretty dispiriting. Take the process of submitting a resume via an online form: It can feel like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it into the sea. And even if you score an interview, you might never hear back. You’ll be left wondering what happened–what went wrong.
This kind of rejection is a pretty isolating feeling, but the fact is you’re in the majority. New research from Future Workplace and HR tech company CareerArc finds that nearly six in 10 candidates have had a bad experience in their job search, and nearly two-thirds have been “ghosted” by a prospective employer—meaning the only response you get back is silence.
If this turns you off from reapplying with a company, you’re not alone; in fact, 80% of candidates are liable to write off a company that doesn’t let them know they didn’t get the job.
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That might seem like a justifiable response, but it’s a big mistake. Job seekers are shooting themselves in the foot by dismissing an employer based on a non-response, especially because the new research suggests that it’s entirely likely you just slipped through the cracks.
Blame it on algorithms. Almost 40% of the nearly 400 employers surveyed said they use screening technology to help them wade through the flood of resumes they get, but even though they rely on these tools, they know they’re not perfect: More than 60% admitted they probably overlooked a qualified candidate in the process.
“Job seekers need to realize that the recruiting process is becoming more automated and less personal,” says Future Workplace research director Dan Schawbel. “You should never take rejection personally,” he says. “Sometimes the best applicants get filtered out of the candidate pool because of automated recruiting software.”
Take the ghosting in stride? Really? Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but if you don’t get over your hurt feelings, it could cost you a job.
“Don’t let an unanswered application deter you from applying to other positions at a later date,” says Amanda Augustine, career advice expert at TopResume.
Augustine points out that companies can receive literally hundreds of resumes for a single open position. “Unless you’re among the first to apply to the job and a great fit for the position and have a keyword-optimized resume… there’s a good chance your application will not be considered,” she says. It’s not personal, it’s just a numbers game.
If you do apply again at the same company, Augustine advises making sure your focus is narrow enough; if you send off a slew of applications for different jobs at the same company, that could make it look like you’re not really sure what you’re good at, or what you really want to do, she cautions.
Experts also say networking and forging a connection with someone at the company is a good strategy. If that’s not possible, don’t take the lack of “no” for an answer, says Fred Goff, CEO of jobs site Jobcase.
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If your initial submission gets no response, “Follow up with a phone call to confirm the application was received,” he suggests. “Ask if you are being considered for the job and, if so, when you might come in to meet the hiring manager.” The trick, Goff says, is “polite persistence.”
Goff also points out that it’s not smart to write off an entire company because of one bad experience with an HR department. Especially at big companies, it’s likely that you’ll be working under an entirely separate team, perhaps not even in the same location. The people and the culture in the department where your dream job is located could be completely different from the automated hiring process that’s giving you the brush-off.
“Companies are not black boxes with one talent brand,” Goff says, which can be helpful to remember if you’re feeling slighted.