What are the reasons you haven’t heard back after applying for a job? If you’ve recently submitted a resume and are on the edge of your seat waiting for a response, you’ll want to tune in today. Is it normal to not hear back from a job application? How long should you wait to hear back from an employer? Is there anything you can do when you don’t hear back after applying for a job? These are very common questions, and most people assume that not hearing back means they aren’t qualified. But that’s not necessarily true.

If you’d like the inside scoop on what might really be going on with your job application, this episode is for you.

In this episode of The Career Rx we’ll discuss:

  • Not hearing back after applying? Why not to take this personally
  • 4 reasons you’re not hearing back after applying for a job (that don’t mean you’re unqualified or out of luck)
  • Resources to optimize your resume

Today we’re talking about the reasons that you don’t hear back after you have applied for a nonclinical or industry job. These are common reasons a company might be taking longer than you’d like to get back to you about the position you want.

By the end of this episode, you’ll have a better understanding of how it’s probably not you, why it’s important to establish and keep those avenues of communication open if at all possible, and the reality of the hiring process from the inside.

In this Episode:

[1:30] Looking to change to a nonclinical career? Check out Industry Insider.
[4:50] This part of the process takes a long time, and often gets bumped
[6:30] Lots of people and lots of logistics
[8:50] There may not be a way to ever know about this one
[11:00] Kind of like the A list at a big event
[13:30] Maybe you’re actually being considered for this instead
[16:00] Getting a lot of rapid rejections? That’s another story (but still fixable!)

Links and Resources:

Industry Insider – learn exactly how to land a rewarding nonclinical career without a new degree, connections on the inside, prior experience, or a pay cut
Episode 70 – It’s Not a Numbers Game
Transition to Industry Webinar



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TRANSCRIPT: Episode 81 – Reasons You Don’t Hear Back After Applying For a Job

Hey there. I’m Marjorie Stiegler and you’re listening to The Career Rx Podcast, where we tackle the important things they don’t teach you in medical school. Like how to treat your career, like the business it really is, with strategies to accelerate the kind of success that you want, because you deserve a career you love, and a career that loves you back. Are you ready?

Let’s get into it.

Okay, today, we’re going to be talking about reasons that you don’t hear back after you have applied for a job. This is one of those things that’s so important to understand. Because I know it really gets people frustrated and discouraged, and sometimes makes them even want to quit. So it’s a really common question. I hear from people, probably on a weekly basis, but at least a few times a month, something along the lines of, you know, I applied for a job six weeks ago, or eight weeks ago, or even several months ago, and I haven’t heard back yet, you know, what should I do?

What does this mean? You know, how long should I keep waiting? So I’m gonna just try to address what I think is underneath all of that, by giving you some, some of the reasons that you haven’t heard back yet. So you can put it into context for yourself and decide what to do next.

Before we dig into the meat of these answers, I also want to mention that obviously, if you are looking for a position in industry, and you’re not sure exactly how to get started, please come on over to my website, check the show notes, for free webinars that I have other podcast episodes that I have, and my flagship course Industry Insider, which will teach you everything you need to know to land a job in industry, even if you don’t have any connections today, you don’t have a foot in the door and you don’t have prior experience. So come check that out, Industry Insider, it’s really, really helpful for many physicians making a transition.

Okay, back to the question at hand. So what should you do if it’s been a certain number of weeks or months, and you’re starting to feel like I’m never going to hear back from these people, and I’m feeling pretty discouraged about my job application? Well, the first thing you should actually do, if you can, is stay in touch, right? If you have a way of being in touch with the person who would be hiring you, this is your future boss. And I call them the hiring manager, because that’s generally who they are.

Right? If you have a way of being in touch with the hiring manager, I strongly recommend that you just try to keep in touch with them. And if you don’t have a way of being in touch with the hiring manager themselves, but you do have a contact, either with a recruiter or within HR at the company, stay in touch with them. So that’s really, really important.

And this is one of the reasons why I emphasize on this podcast and an industry insider how important it is to build that network so that all of your applications go to an actual person, instead of just through the portal, right where things get filtered out. And if you have a way of keeping in touch, I recommend that you first ask them what the timeline is for next steps, because that lets them tell you whether they expect to have an answer for you in a week, a month or whatever.

Otherwise, I would recommend staying in touch no more really than once a week. More than that is a little bit too frequent. And, you know, you don’t want to you don’t want to wait a month, right? Because then your opportunity may have passed by. So those are my recommendations for what you should actually do.

But let’s talk about what the reasons are that you haven’t heard back yet. A lot of candidates feel like if they haven’t heard back yet, it’s because they’re totally unqualified and all is lost. But that is not true. So let me go over a handful of things with you that could be going on. That are other explanations for why you haven’t heard back yet.

And why you should not take it personally. Maybe that’s the most important thing to take away from this podcast episode is while it might be that they don’t view you as qualified, is also very likely that it’s a number of other reasons that they haven’t been back in touch with you.

Now, this is different, by the way than if they’ve been back in touch with you right away. If you’ve gotten an immediate rejection letter, that means that you have failed to pass probably an automatic screening, something that from a software, right a human being has not even seen anything. And that’s a matter of optimizing your assets, your documents, for the right keywords. So that’s totally separate. But again, we’re talking here about kind of that radio silence, you haven’t heard anything back.

  1. So the first thing is keep in mind that everybody on the other end of this hiring process has a job. So the hiring manager, the person who wants to hire you to grow their team has a day job, they have a job that involves a lot of things besides just hiring you. They are likely extraordinarily busy. That’s why they need to grow their team. That’s why they need to hire you. So they basically just from the start, don’t even have the time to be going through the process of looking at resumes and interviewing people but Of course, they need to do that, just keep in mind that they have a lot of other things going on as well.

And as is very common in industry, they will ask their top candidates to interview with a handful of other key team members or stakeholders across the business. And so in order to line up an interview, that means that not only do all of the applications need to be screened, but top candidates who need to be selected, need to be able to interview with, you know, 567 people perhaps. And so it’s can be kind of a scheduling challenge. And that can take some time to take some time to work through some of the top candidates.

Now, if you’re one of the first few candidates, and when you’re one of those people, then hopefully you’ll be you know, in contact earlier, but if you’re not just remember that they’re working their way through people. So part of it is just, they have other things to do, and that they are so busy, that’s why they’re growing the team. So it might be that time just gets away from them. And that, that they still intend to fill this job. But while you’re at the edge of your seat, you know, checking your email waiting to hear back, they are just drowning in work. So that’s one thing to keep in mind, don’t take it personally.

  1. Alright, the second thing that may well be going on, which again, you should not take personally, are the personal things that are going on for the other people involved in hiring. So it could be that the hiring manager, or key members of that stakeholder panel that I was just talking about, or even the internal recruiter or HR professionals sort of assigned to this case, maybe they have a vacation planned, and they’re just out of the office, or maybe something unexpected has come up, and they’re out of the office.

So any of these same people may have a period of time, while again, you’re on the edge of your seat, anxiously waiting. And these folks just literally are taking them out of the office for a week or a couple of days, this will happen and it will sort of slow down the overall momentum.

Different companies may have different ways of trying to cover for and continue on with this. But for the most part, these things are just sort of surprisingly frequent, because it’s a large number of people and a big company with many moving parts. So it’s not that surprising. And it kind of depends on the time to write, if it’s summer, there’s a lot of summer vacation, if it’s holiday, there’s that.

So there are a lot of reasons that might just be sort of personal reasons. In addition to that person’s day job, why there are taking a longer time to either get through the resumes, decide who they want to interview, get some of those interviews on the books, right, any of these things could be happening. And it’s personal activity on their part, nothing for you to take, personally really important.

  1. Okay, the third thing that could be going on inside the company that is a reason why you haven’t heard back yet, are some things that are business specific. So it’s really not all that uncommon that in the middle of somebody’s hiring process, the business has some kind of a reorganization, or there’s some kind of temporary hiring freeze. And a pause is basically put on to bringing in new headcount or allocations of headcount are being shifted around. And all this really means for you is that the person who wants to hire you is basically told to just wait a little bit, and that they can’t progress forward.

So they don’t want to close it down, right, they’re not going to call you up and say, This job’s no longer available, because it may become available, or it may not be that it’s not available, it just can’t be hired right now, those things are a little bit tricky. It’s hard for companies to communicate that to candidates externally. So just keep in mind that that may be going on. And while there’s probably not any way for you to know about that, it’s one of a number of many things that really has nothing to do with you. But it can extend the process by weeks or even months. So again, if you haven’t heard back, don’t take it personally.

  1. Okay, the fourth thing that’s going on, is that they’re working their way through other candidates. Now, again, don’t take this personally, you may want to take it personally. But the reality is that these jobs are highly competitive. And many, many roles are flooded with dozens of highly qualified applicants, and you may be among them, highly qualified. So don’t assume that because you haven’t heard back or you’re not one of the first candidates, that you wouldn’t be viewed as qualified. Sometimes there are preferences given to internal candidates, sometimes a high desire to give an opportunity to an external candidate.

There’s all kinds of reasons why they might view a particular candidate as you know, slightly more qualified or an even better match, but they’re going to be working their way through so when you think about it, put yourself in the shoes of the person doing the hiring, if they’ve received 50 applications and 30 of them are highly qualified candidates, they’re going to have to apply some kind of test, some kind of a threshold, or you know, pick names out of a hat. I mean, that’s probably not how they’re doing it. But they’re going to need to just begin the process, begin the process with someone who seems to be the best match seems to be the most qualified.

This, again, really gets to the importance of the personalization of your cover letter and your industry friendly resume and all the things that are outside the scope of this podcast, but really, really important. So that you ideally rise to the top and again, that networking, so that somebody specific can speak on your behalf, or the hiring manager already knows you exist, and is looking forward to your application. Those are really great things. But let’s say none of that is in place, all is not lost.

I like to think of this the way that some people try to manage invitation lists to like a wedding or some other big event where they have, you know, sort of an a list, right? This is the group where if everybody could come, this is who I would most like to be there. And I can’t afford to invite more people, right, just like the hiring manager is going to have more applicants than they can possibly hire, even if they like many of the candidates.

And then as you get RSVPs, back to your to your hypothetical wedding, right, and people can’t come, then you know, you freed up space to invite other people who are really important to you, but that you just didn’t have either budget or space for before. The same is true for the hiring manager, if they are working through some of the top candidates. And when they have a screen or they have an initial interview, they have a different feeling about that candidate, then they’ll continue to work their way through.

And this all takes tons and tons of time. So again, not anything to take personally if you haven’t received a rejection. So even if they are working through another candidate, that is their top choice, that will take some time. So whether or not that’s going to work out is unknown. And so that that again, will kind of shift the timelines out. It’s also quite possible that they have a candidate that they really, really like. And they get all the way to the offer extension process, and they’re in a negotiation phase.

And it just doesn’t work out for whatever reason, they can’t come to a mutual agreement, and they’re unable to hire that candidate. And then they’re sort of back to the drawing board. So they’re not going to go back, you know, all all the way to the beginning. But they’re going to go back to that sort of subgroup that they’re hanging on to. And again, if you haven’t gotten a rejection letter, it’s highly likely that you’re in that pool, right? That they could still be working through you.

So again, don’t worry. And I want to just give some anecdotal reassurance. I know lots, lots of people who have had one of the following scenarios, either they applied for a job, they didn’t hear anything for what felt like a very long time, three or even four months. And then when they heard back, they were successfully interviewed and hired. So that could be that any one of those things I mentioned is what slowed down the process. But either way, they ultimately got the job. So great news at the end. The other thing that’s happened to many people that I know, is they’ve waited what felt like a very, very long time.

And then they were approached by the company and hired for a different position. So that means that they at least got the attention, right? Somebody looked at their resume, ended up hiring somebody else for the specific role that person applied for, but also ended up thinking, hey, this person might be a really great match for something else. So the fact that now the hiring manager has seen your resume and your cover letter, and the HR knows about you might open opportunities beyond the one that you applied for. So this happens, not that uncommonly either. And again, it’s usually after a longer period of time.

So if you feel like you’ve been waiting a very long period of time, you know, the big take home message is all is not lost. Do not take it personally. There’s a lot of things that could be going on that would explain it, and it may still work out in the end. Now, is it possible that you could just be sort of ghosted forever and never hear back? Yes. Is there anything that you can do to, you know, solidly close the loop on that? Perhaps not, if you don’t have an internal contact with HR with the hiring manager, it may be one of those things where you just never hear back.

And that’s unfortunate. I don’t think that companies try to do that. I really do think they have a process in place to try to be sure that they’ve closed the loop with everybody one way or another. But it’s not impossible. And it may be that you never have the satisfaction of really knowing what’s going on there.

But to recap, you know, if you can be in touch with someone, definitely, definitely do that. And if you cannot just keep in mind that there’s a lot of things like those people’s actual day job that that’s keeping them from being able to hire in the most efficient manner that they would like, or possibly that there’s personal things like vacations or unexpected illness or whatever.

Have you that keep people out of the office that delay that timeframe, or that there’s internal business factors like a hiring freeze or a reorg going on, that have nothing to do with you, and that the hiring manager has no control over whatsoever, or possibly they are entertaining other candidates. But it’s not a guarantee that you are no longer a contender. And it definitely doesn’t mean that you’re not qualified. That’s really important.

Now, if you have any questions about whether or not you’re qualified, or you’re wondering, you know, are there things in my background that are especially attractive that would make me really qualified again, come and see me over on the website, check out the webinars and look at Industry Insider, because There absolutely are some things that you should be highlighting that will help you be a more attractive candidate, help you get your foot in the door. There are certainly things that you want to be sure come through in that cover letter and that are personalized for the job that you’re applying for, can really increase your chances of success.

And this is especially true if you’re getting a lot of really rapid rejections. If you’re getting a lot of rapid rejections, that means that a computer is deciding you’re not suitable. And we’ve gotta get away from the computer, deciding you’re not suitable, that can be addressed, we can fix that problem working together, almost certainly. So if you’re getting rapid rejections, that’s another reason to realize that it’s, it’s perhaps not you, but the way in which your materials are communicating your skills and value. That’s the disconnect there. And that can be addressed.

Alright, that’s it for today. I hope that was helpful to you, especially if you’re one of those people who have been on the edge of your seat, waiting to hear back. And it seems like it’s taking forever, and you’re feeling frustrated, and you’re internalizing it, and you’re thinking this means you’re not qualified is never going to work out. That’s absolutely not the case. So banish those thoughts from your mind. Keep on progressing towards your goals, and you will get there. It’s not a numbers game. Right? You’ve probably heard me say that before. And I’ll actually have an episode on exactly that, that I’ll put in the show notes.

It’s not purely a numbers game in that if you just keep on applying, it will eventually work out. There are some strategies you need to employ so that you apply in a smart way. But you may have to apply to a lot so it may be partially in those numbers. Don’t be discouraged by it. It’s just part of the process. You can do it and I can help. Bye for now.

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