5 Reasons Why You Didn’t Land an Interview and What to do About It

Friday, October 31, 2014

Applied for a job and haven’t heard back? Check these 5 reasons to make change happen.


You find the perfect job online and submit your application, already fantasizing about your new position. Then the waiting game begins. You wait, patiently at first, and then the panic sets in. Should I follow up? What should I say? Did I do something wrong? Why isn’t anyone calling me?!


After what feels like forever, you check back on the job posting, only to realize the position’s been filled.


This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the “Black Hole,” and leaves most job seekers discouraged and unsure what to do differently with their future applications. If you’ve found yourself in this position, wondering what went wrong, consider the following reasons why you didn’t hear back.

The hiring manager never saw your resume.

Before your resume is passed along to the hiring manager, it first has to get past multiple gatekeepers:

  1. an electronic screen known as an applicant tracking system (ATS for short) that searches key words and may also have a pre-qualifying questionnaire
  2. a junior-level HR coordinator
What to do about it
  • Reassess your resume to ensure it’s has a high "attraction index" and is telling the right story in terms both gatekeepers and hiring managers will recognize and appreciate. Add keywords. Your skills and experience that will be key in the job you are applying for must be aligned with the key words listed in the job posting.
  • Simplify your resume. Too much can be as bad as too little. Instead of providing a job description for each of your jobs, state your accomplishments and contributions. It will be shorter than a job description and allow you to be concise. This will also allow you to be seen more broadly for other jobs that need what you've accomplished.
  • Design for the reader. A resume needs to grab a reader's attention starting at the top. As the reader scans your resume, they should "want" to continue scanning. A strong resume attraction index is strong at keeping the reader interested. A low attraction index usually results in no action.
To make sure your resume is an asset and not a barrier, consider Resume ReWrite by Success Discoveries, a boutique resume writing service that is very cost-effective.

You applied too late.

A study by TheLadders found that your chances of getting a call back plummet 72 hours after the job is published online, even if you were considered a good fit for the job.
What to do about it

When you find a job you’re interested in and qualified for, make its application a priority. Use apps like Job Search by TheLadders so you never miss a potential opportunity. BUT, also use networking strategies (see 3rd reason below) to find the hiring manager or someone that can introduce you to the hiring manager. Social networking tools such as LinkedIn(the #1 social media networking tool) to find the right people (including the staffing recruiter assigned to the job).


Your online brand sold you out.

A survey by Jobvite found that 93 percent of recruiters are likely to look at a candidates’ social profile – regardless of whether a candidate provides that information. And a startling 70 percent of recruiters have turned down a candidate based on something they found about them online. If you’re not managing your online brand, you could unknowingly hurt your chances of landing that dream job.
What to do about it

First, for many good reasons, lock down your Facebook and other social media accounts that are not professionally focused so only those you are connected to can see your information. Second, take a fresh look at your LinkedIn account (and if you don't have one get one). Look at others' profile on LinkedIn and find some that are well done, interesting and effective. Remember the attraction index for your resume? Same goes for your LinkedIn profile.


You didn’t leverage your network.

A study by CareerXroads found you are ten times more likely to land the job when your application is accompanied by an employee referral. This could be as simple as including an employee’s name in your online application or, better yet, having your contact at the company send your resume directly to the hiring team on your behalf. Make time to invest in your network and always check for relevant connections before sending in an application.
What to do about it
Whether you do this or not, you have a network. Your network is like an iceberg. You can see only a small percent of your full network. It is up to you and only you to leverage your full network. If you are intimidated by this one, "get over it". Think of two scenarios: The lion is about to eat you but you have a gun and ammunition. In one scenario, you shoot the gun to stop the lion. In the other, you leave the gun on the ground and the lion enjoys a quick meal. This lesson is about much more than just survival. It is about your quality of life. Those that don't take charge of their own life, that don't see this particular issue as their personal accountability task, will surely receive less pay, will likely not reach their full potential and will feel unfulfilled throughout life. So get over it and just do it. Call, email, talk to people until you get close to the right hiring manager at the right company with the right job that you want. It is very likely your competition is leveraging their connections to get an inside track on the role before the job posting was even posted.

Your Attitude and Perspective Matter. Even when you seem to do everything right, there’s no guarantee you’ll land the interview. This can occur for a myriad of reasons. Whatever the case, realize that sometimes the fate of your application is simply not in your hands - but many times it was in your hands the entire time.

What you can do - Recap

Focus on the areas where you can influence your candidacy and try not to get hung up on the ones that are outside your control. After you apply to that “perfect” job and create a reminder to follow up, set a goal for yourself to find at least two other well-fitted opportunities to pursue. Don't wait on ANY job. Keep pushing to expand your network. Be the first to get an interview for newly opened positions. And make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile have a very high attraction index.