Boo! Job ghosting may be ruining your job search.

It's a scenario that occurs all too frequently in the modern job search: Candidates apply for jobs, sometimes meet with HR managers and then never hear back. All that time and effort that goes into preparing your application, researching the company and taking time out of your schedule to meet for an interview seems to go to waste when you only receive radio-silence afterward, and that can be highly disheartening. If this has happened to you, you may have just been job ghosted.

TopCV careers expert Amanda Augustine shares her advice on what to do and how to follow up when you've been job ghosted.

I submitted my CV for a vacant role. Why haven't I received a response?

This one is all too common. When you consider that the average job listing receives 250 applications, it's not surprising that you haven't heard back. Most recruiters or HR managers don't have the time to scour through all those applications. Instead, many use an applicant tracking system to shortlist the candidates for them. This might be a time-saver for a recruiter, but it means that a whopping 75 per cent of applications are rejected before they are even read. According to Augustine, 'If your CV is not written with this electronic net in mind, the chances of your CV being binned before it has even been read ‒ regardless of your qualifications ‒ is painfully high.'

Another reason why you may not have heard back is that your CV just isn't up to scratch. If your CV contains spelling errors or poor formatting or is not tailored for the specific job listing, chances are you won't receive a response. This is why enlisting the help of a professional CV writer can be invaluable.

I had a job interview and I haven't heard back. What does that mean for me?

There could be several reasons why you haven't heard back after a job interview. Perhaps the position was placed on hold, or maybe someone made a mistake and it got overlooked, or an email got lost in a spam folder. It happens.

Surprisingly, a common reason why you may not hear back is that the company simply didn't think you were interested in the role. According to a survey by Come Recommended, the most common mistake job seekers make is not sufficiently showing an interviewer how interested they are in working for the company. Luckily this one is easily fixed. Be sure to make your intentions clear throughout the interview and follow-up process and show your enthusiasm for the role. According to Augustine, 'When all else is equal, the candidate who demonstrates a genuine passion for the job and company will land the job.'

Alternatively, the reason why you haven't heard back could also be that the company already has an internal candidate in mind for the role. This often occurs in larger companies that have strict recruitment processes and need to advertise externally even if they have a contender already on their payroll. In these situations, there is nothing you could have done differently to succeed. If you do really like the company though, keep a close eye on their website and social media profiles. You can even try keeping in touch or following up occasionally in case another opportunity arises in the future.

I've submitted my CV and/or been for an interview. How should I follow up?

When submitting your CV, it's important to respect the timelines of the HR manager and not appear aggressive in your communication. You need to walk that fine line between showing that you're an interested, proactive candidate and simply being an annoyance by reaching out too frequently. A good starting point is to mention in your cover letter that you will follow up on your application after a week. This sets a precedent and lets the HR manager know you're serious about the role.

Alternatively, if you've been for an interview, send a thank-you email afterward as a means of following up and keeping your candidacy in the minds of the decision-makers. Augustine suggests you 'think of your initial thank-you note as an “influence” note'. She continues: 'Use this opportunity to not only emphasise important points of your background as they relate to the company and job requirements, but to also address any objections about your candidacy that may have surfaced during the interview.'

How long should I wait before following up with a hiring manager or recruiter?

At the end of an interview, be sure to ask your interviewer for their timeframe for making a decision. This will give you guidance on when (and when not) to follow up. Similarly, you can ask your interviewer for permission to follow up. Keep it conversational, saying something along the lines of, 'Do you mind if I follow up with you in a week if I haven't received a response?' This is a simple but effective way of letting the recruiter know you'll be contacting them so there are no surprises when your friendly email arrives in their inbox.

Augustine recommends following up once a week for no more than five weeks or until someone responds ‒ whichever comes first. If you're still interested in working for the company after not hearing back, she suggests waiting for a reason to reach out to someone at the company and to limit your communication to once every 60–90 days.

Final thoughts

It's never nice to be ghosted, particularly when you've gone to the effort of crafting your CV and showing up prepared for an interview. However, these things do happen, and most of the time they are out of your control. If you find yourself in this situation, try not to panic. The worst thing you can do is start emailing and calling an HR manager every day demanding a response. Keep your follow-ups to once per week (at most) and know when to call it quits.

One way to avoid being job ghosted is to ensure your CV gets past the ATS. Working with a professional CV writer will help you beat those hiring bots.

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