Jobscan recently polled some of its users about the worst part of the job search process. One of the most common answers, as Lisa W. put it, was “submitting to the black hole only to hear crickets.”

No one wants to be rejected, but at least it gives you something to cross off a list. You can regroup after a rejection. For many job seekers, getting ghosted by potential employers is even more disheartening.

“The worst part of the job search process is waiting inordinate periods of time for a company to respond. If I’m not the right person, that’s fine. Waiting and hoping for weeks is discouraging.” – John M.

The job search is time-consuming. It’s stressful. It causes anxiety. The last thing you need is the feeling of hopelessness that comes when you don’t hear back from jobs.

Why don’t more companies send updates?

If you’re disillusioned by the job hunt, it’s because all these corporations are faceless, cold, and uncaring. Another reason job seekers don’t hear anything back is because they weren’t actually formally rejected. Depending on the hiring manager and the applicant tracking system (ATS), your resume can end up in application limbo. The company received your resume and job application, but a hiring manager’s keyword search never returned your information. It’s worse than being rejected. You were never seen at all.

“The worst step in the job search process is the waiting after you have applied for a position, not knowing if you will ever get a reply.” – Gravy M.

The LEAST they could do

Many Jobscan users wished that ATS provided hard feedback as to why they didn’t make it through. Short of that, employers could help out millions of job seekers by incorporating a minimum amount of transparency. For someone in the middle of a grueling job hunt, a simple form letter update can ease the feeling of futility, help establish next steps, or provide closure.

“The worst step is never hearing back from the employer. It’s not difficult to say ‘we appreciate your interest in our company, and after reviewing your qualifications, we’ve decided to pursue other job candidates.’” – Joyce D.

Not all applications get filed away into limbo. When an application is rejected, a job seeker has the right to know so that they can make adjustments and move on. Even if a company plans to keep your resume and application on file, they should let applicants know when a position has been filled.

Get more responses

The best way to cope with getting ghosted is to make your next application even stronger. You’ll eventually break through the silence if you keep improving your resume, using all the resources at your disposal, and networking your way around pesky ATS.

Use an ATS-friendly resume

When you upload your resume as part of an online job application, many ATS automatically parse the contents into searchable fields for the hiring manager or recruiter. Having a resume that isn’t easily parsed can trigger an error and immediate rejection or cause your resume to be unsearchable.

Be careful over-designing your resume. Keep the formatting straightforward, the resume fonts basic, and avoid using tables since they can causing parsing issues if they aren’t formatted properly. Search for ATS-friendly resume examples. If you think you’re applying through an ATS, remember that the content of your resume is far more important than its design.

Improve your resume’s searchability

Avoid ATS limbo by tailoring your resume to the job description. Use Jobscan to ensure that you’re featuring impactful resume keywords and search terms. Try out the resume scanner here:

Take additional fields seriously

According to Jenny S., the worst step of the application process isn’t getting ghosted, it’s “online applications AFTER you’ve already uploaded your resume. SO redundant and highly annoying!” You’ve painstakingly crafted the perfect resume, so why do you have to fill out redundant fields asking about your work history or qualifications?

Don’t blow off those fields! They serve a variety of purposes, from protecting against ATS parsing errors (see above) to vetting your resume. Deciding that you don’t need to put your best effort into these fields because the information already exists in your resume and cover letter is a sure-fire way to sink your candidacy.

Use a seemingly redundant field about your work experience to add in even more context, measurable results, and searchable hard skills. Consider the intent behind knockout questions and answer them thoughtfully and honestly.

Follow up and get feedback

Seek out the hiring manager a week after applying. Connecting with an actual person can benefit your job search in a few different ways:

  • Get peace of mind by confirming that your application was received and is being reviewed.
  • Enhance your application by making a positive impression on a decision maker.
  • If you were rejected, learn why and apply it to future applications.
  • Networking is ALWAYS a good idea.

Bring recruiters to you

One way to protect yourself from getting ghosted is flipping the script. Reinvest some of your job application time into cultivating a professional online persona that attracts recruiters. Optimize your LinkedIn profile, find ways to utilize other social media platforms and websites, and infiltrate the hidden job market.

It can be a disheartening experience when you don’t hear back from a job. Keep at it and remember that you’re not alone. Every other job seeker is facing the same frustrations.

The worst step in the job search process is…

What's the worst part of the job process? Waiting to hear back from a job and getting nothing!

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