Why do I never hear back when I apply for a job?

Back To News & Insights

If you’ve decided it’s time for a new challenge or you’re unlucky enough to find yourself out of work, you may have found yourself playing a game you don’t recognise. You're diligently checking the job boards and sending your CV for roles that look like a good fit, and then....nothing. You're shouting into a void. So, what’s going on?

Is your CV being screened out by AI? Has a human being even read it? Has everyone lost their manners? These are all valid questions, and whilst we don’t have all the answers, we can try and shed some light on the frustrating and often disappointing experience of finding a new job in the 2020s.

What’s Changed?

There is little doubt that the recruitment process has changed beyond recognition in the last decade. LinkedIn, Applicant Tracking Systems, Talent Teams and AI have all made an impact, positively and negatively! 

Applying for jobs has become a lot easier, and as a result, volumes of applications are much higher for every available role. The downside is that in processing more applications, the personal touch has been lost. Applying for jobs takes place almost exclusively online; through a recruiter, via the employer’s website or through LinkedIn. Candidates can fire off their CV to multiple roles with one click, and although there may be a few screening questions, we often receive many hundreds of applications which don’t meet the basic criteria. Whilst we do try to acknowledge applications, a personal response is neither practical nor possible in every case. If you've sent your CV to a job advertisement and don’t hear anything within a week or so, it's reasonable to assume that you didn’t quite make the cut.

White Noise

So, what can you do to stand out from the crowd and get through to the interview stage? Firstly, make sure that you meet the criteria for the role you’re applying for! Sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how often we post a new role and within minutes, the CVs are hitting the inbox. This is a clear signal that the applicant has not read the advertisement properly, and is unlikely to have considered their experience in relation to the role. Far from looking keen and committed, that candidate makes themself look, at best a bit silly and at worst, somewhat desperate. So, think carefully before you hit ‘send’ – take some time to read through the requirements and be honest with yourself about how closely you meet them, especially if they are listed as mandatory. If the ad says ‘You must have experience in the personal care category’ or ‘FMCG experience is essential’ and you don’t have that, then be realistic. If you have 80% of the skills or experience listed, it may be worth a shot, but 50% or less, and you’re probably wasting everyone’s time.


Pick Me!

Consider tailoring your CV for the role. Without plagiarising the job spec, highlight areas where your experience is particularly relevant, or re-order your CV so that these are seen first. You’ll find more information to help you write a great CV here;

Link to (https://www.tarshandpartners.co.uk/insights/tips-for-writing-a-winning-cv)


Don’t send lengthy covering letters – your CV should be doing that work for you and in truth, they are often ignored. If you really feel you need to make a point about why you should be considered, make it very brief, and above all, relevant to the role.  


Hi, My Name is…

If there is a named contact on the advertisement – a recruiter, Talent Manager, or line manager, perhaps send a short message to say that you’ve applied for the role, and why you think you’re a good fit. This doesn’t need to be too detailed, just enough to demonstrate that you’ve thought through the requirements.


Not Again?!

Some other points to watch out for include applying for too many roles, and too often. If you’re working on the premise that more applications mean more chances of getting noticed, you’re right, but not necessarily in a good way! Recruiters and companies will often have multiple roles posted at the same time and if we see the same CV for a Brand Manager, a Shopper Marketing Manager and a National Account Manager in the same 24-hour period, it’s not likely that person is going to be right for all 3. It doesn’t take more than 2 or 3 applications for us to spot a frequent flyer. The same can be said about applying for the same role repeatedly, either with a recruiter or by sending 2 applications; one direct to the company, and another to the recruiter advertising the same role. Keep a careful record of roles that you’ve applied for and cross check before you send off another CV.


Tangled Webs

It’s especially important to tell a recruiter if you have already applied directly to a particular company, even for a different role. Also, if another recruiter has already talked to you about a role or company, be honest; none of us enjoys getting caught up in messy conflicts and employers tend to get a bit cross with candidates who try to maximise their chances through multiple applications.


The Legal Stuff

One of the key reasons we find that candidates are unsuitable for a role is that they don’t meet the legal working requirements. If you’re not a British national, you’ll need an appropriate visa to be considered for any role, whether contract or permanent. If you have a Youth Mobility Visa with 2-3 years remaining, many employers will consider you for permanent roles.  This does not mean that they are de facto agreeing to sponsor you at the end of that period, just that you are eligible to work for long enough to make it worthwhile for both parties. Similarly, if you have a 2 year Post-Study Work visa, you may be lucky enough to secure a fixed-term contract or permanent role but, at the current time, opportunities for sponsorship are very limited so please don’t rely on this to extend your stay. If you’ve already been working in the UK for a while, make sure there is enough time remaining on your visa to fulfil any contract role you apply for.


UK Experience

If you’re new to the UK, even with a strong CV, you might find yourself being knocked back because you have no UK market experience. This is a really common issue, but it isn’t insurmountable. The key is to focus on an aspect of your experience that you know you can leverage, rather than try to tick off everything on your wish list. If you’re looking to change discipline, category and country, and to take a step up the career ladder all in one hit, you’re stacking the odds against yourself. Plenty of businesses are looking for particular strengths in one area that you might have a bias towards. You have strong innovation experience? Pick that as your start point. You have international experience? Look for UK based roles with an international focus. Also, don’t rule out contract roles (even relatively short ones) if they offer the opportunity to learn about a new market or category.  

On the Money

One simple (and final) piece of advice here. Be realistic. If you're making a move to improve your current salary, aim for a 10-15% uplift. If your start point is asking for 50% more than you currently earn, you may not even get a foot in the door! If you’re coming from overseas, the UK is an expensive place to live. Rent is costly, food, travel and entertainment are expensive, so of course you’re going to aim to earn as much as you can, but you might have to adjust your expectations in a competitive market. Find out what candidates with an equivalent level of experience typically earn, and expect to achieve towards the lower end of that bracket to start with.