Why employers and recruiters don’t call back

ATS Tracking

If you are currently looking for a job and you have submitted an application, then I’m sure you are like 70.5% of the job candidates My Career Groove surveyed that intensely disliked not hearing back from recruiters and employers. In fact it is such a prevalent trend, that 61.46% of users wanted a platform to include mandatory feedback from employers and recruiters.

So first and foremost, if you don’t hear back, don’t take it personally, because it is a trend that is very common amongst job candidates, even highly qualified job candidates.

Now if you look up articles as to why employers and recruiters don’t call back, the bulk are putting the blame fairly and squarely on the job candidate. That is, you did not hear back, because your application is so poor. While in some respects this is true, it is not the whole truth, as it does not explain how the current recruiting practices are failing job candidates. So in this article, I’m going to explain, one of the primary reasons why you don’t hear back and then provide solutions on how to dramatically improve the odds of being shortlisted for a job.

Recruitment is broken, which is why you are not hearing back from employers

Did you know that employers and recruiters complain about the dearth of talent? Currently up to 24% of HR resources are committed to recruitment (CEB – 2015) with the average time in the US to hire staff 52 days and in Australia, 68 days (AFR)).

Current recruitment solutions are also costly – with recruitment agency costs 12% to 30% of a starting salary and average cost per hire $4,285 for larger organisations. In addition, when advertising for talent, employers’ and recruiters are often inundated with applicants, resulting in the use of technology that is focused on weeding out job candidates, (such as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)) rather than focusing on nurturing and attracting the right talent.

With the struggle to find top talent fast, increasingly there has been a move to a critical mass of data based on evermore-sophisticated algorithms, including the use of social recruiting and platforms such as SEEK, without the question being asked ‘How accurate is the dataset’?  For example: Data from social recruiting is at best incomplete and most likely inaccurate. Public personas do not necessarily reflect real life, skills, capabilities and career ambitions. Talent IQ Industry Report 2016 indicated that 78% of candidate’s data in the average ATS was not correct.

Put simply, the focus on mass data, rather than quality of candidates is slowing down the recruitment process. Because of the quantity of candidates coming through the doorway, candidate care has dramatically declined and this is damaging the recruitment sector as a whole.

So not hearing back recruiters and employers – is simply a symptom of a recruitment process that has gone rogue.

The steps you can take to improve the odds of getting shortlisted

Understand that you are simply data (in the initial stages of recruitment)

Employers and Recruiters are collecting or using data at ever increasing rates, assuming this is the cure for their recruitment woes.

  • LinkedIn is just one major site that collects a huge amount of data on individuals. That is one of primary reasons Microsoft purchased LinkedIn in 2016.
  • SEEK profiles is another data collection site, compiling lots of data on job seekers (and selling this information).
  • Facebook – also collects massive amounts of data on users. All your personal data is tracked and shared with advertisers (including employers/recruiters). In fact, Facebook was fined by the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), the French privacy watchdog in May 2017 and investigations are also underway in Germany and Spain in regards to Facebook use of your data.
  • Recruiters and employers also store and use your data on HR systems, in particular Applicant Tracking Systems (data is gleaned directly from your resume /CV when you directly apply for advertised jobs).

The problem is job candidates are unaware that they are simply data in the initial stages of recruitment, with 7 out of 10 decisions made in recruitment, initially being based on this data (LinkedIn, Online Profiles, Facebook and data directly from your resume/CV). Or putting it this way, the majority of employers and recruiters are using data for initial shortlists, yet job candidates are unaware of this, so are not taking the steps to make sure their data accurately reflects their skills and abilities.

When I surveyed recruiters on the problem of using data, in particular ATS when selecting job applicants, one responded:

One of the challenges we have is that the systems rely on the individual applicant understanding what the ATS does and look for. Although this conversation has advanced in some areas, the general consumer is still not realising that the ATS is a core aspect of their job hunt. This is an area of improvement as great talent just may not realise the effort that they need to put in to tailor their resume to the job ad.

If you ask some, they say that is the applicants problem. If you ask for my professional opinion I believe this is an inherent problem that the consumer, and those guiding the consumer in their job search, has not been able to keep up with this fast moving digitalisation.

This means that the ATS is capable but the resume may not be suitable

Once you understand that your data is crucial in the initial stages of recruitment, you have two options:

  • Avoid job search strategies that are reliant on the use of data during the initial stages.
  • Understand the systems being used by recruiters and employers and leverage this information, so you do get shortlisted.

Avoid job search strategies that are reliant on the use of data during the initial stages.

This option is very successful because basically as a job candidate, you are taking measures to bypass all processes that rely on data in the initial stages of recruitment to secure you a job.  It means prioritising the following job search tasks:


Before SEEK and Monster, most people got a job through their network. In fact, networking still accounts for an estimated 70% of jobs that get filled. Employers prefer to hire people they know, like and trust. While creating an effective network can take time to develop, by networking, you will get greater access to what is referred to as the ‘hidden job’ market. Just remember, that when networking, don’t ask for a job, but ask for advice and make sure you follow up on the contacts that you make (including after you’ve landed a new job).

Approaching Companies Directly

For this job search strategy to work you have to be really strategic, but is one of the most effective job search strategies out there. Before blasting off hundreds of resumes, you need to develop a list of companies that could require your skills and are in growth mode, get an introduction through your LinkedIn network, or send an introduction letter to the person who requires your talent (and this is not HR). For full details on how to exploit this job search tactic, go to our report on Online Job Boards – What Nobody Tells You AND the #1 Job Search Strategy 

Understand the systems being used by recruiters and employers and leverage this information, so you do get shortlisted.

As outlined above, employers and recruiters rely on data to shortlist job candidates in a number of ways, including searching databases such as LinkedIn and SEEK profile and the use of Applicant Tracking Systems (that use key words – data from your resume / CV).

To maximise your chances with these data driven systems:

Optimise your LinkedIn profile with the key skills and job titles that most align with the job/career you want next. So for example, if you are a CPA and you want a senior accounting position, make sure that this is noted in your LinkedIn heading. Up to 49% of initial searches are conducted using key search terms based on skills.

Only apply for jobs where you meet the bulk of the employer’s (advertisers) requirements. If they are seeking someone with SAP experience and this is listed as essential, it is highly unlikely you will be shortlisted if you don’t possess SAP experience or qualifications.

Adjust your resume / CV for each and every job advertisement, making sure your document reflects the requirements of the job advertisement. So if they are asking for advanced excel and project management skills, make sure these words (data), are mirrored in your resume. Mirroring the key skills and requirements is vital, which is why you can’t rely on a generic one-fits-all style of resume.

Understand how Applicant Tracking Systems work. Not only do you need to include the keywords in your resume, but you also need to understand what file type to use, titles utilised and make sure you don’t include tables in your word document. For a more detailed overview, go to Everything you need to know about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). 

Now these options should improve your odds of getting shortlisted and ultimately hearing back from recruiters and employers. But keep in mind, once you are shortlisted, a human will be viewing your profile and or resume, so you need to make sure you are creating a knock out resume.

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