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Rescuing Your Résumé From a Hiring Black Hole

Hannah P. Morgan

You've applied to a super-looking job online and don't hear anything back, or the recruiter who was in hot pursuit last week has dropped off the face of the planet. Or what about the interviewer last month that was supposed to get back to you immediately? What's going on?

These are some of the reasons applicants fall into a hiring black hole. But more importantly, here are also tips on how to get out:

The application pit. The average job posting receives 50 to 100 applications, according to "Sources of Hire 2013: Perception is Reality," a recent CareerXroads survey. It isn't unusual for some jobs with some employers to receive more. Companies do have applicant tracking systems and many will send an automated message to indicate your application was received. But for some recruiters, the sheer number of applications and résumés to review has made it increasingly difficult to respond to each applicant. Other reasons you aren't hearing anything include that the job has been put on hold, the time frame for hiring has slipped, there are other burning issues in the department or company that need to be addressed first, or maybe the employer was just fishing to see what type of talent was available. These varying and difficult messages seldom get passed along to applicants and as a result, you hear nothing. Rude, but true.

The best way to fix the void is by taking matters into your own hands. Don't expect a response. Instead, you could call the human resources department and ask where they are in the review process (that is, as long as the posting didn't say, "no calls please"). Also ask when you can follow up to see if you are being considered and always verify your materials were received. Another option is to find someone you know inside the company and ask what he or she knows about the position. Be sure to let your contact know that you have applied and ask if he or she would be willing to forward your résumé along to the correct person.

The M.I.A. recruiter. A third-party recruiter's job is to screen and present qualified candidates to the contracted employer. Remember, the recruiter is paid only if they fill the position, therefore, it is in the recruiter's financial best interest to only speak with people who are truly qualified and meet the posted requirements. If the recruiter drops you like a hot potato, it could be due to several reasons, similar to those mentioned above: the job has been put on hold, the requirements of the position changed, the company promoted someone internally or the company isn't responding to the recruiter. A lack of contact doesn't necessarily mean you are out of the running. Consistently following up with the recruiter, perhaps even varying your contact between phone and email, is the only way you'll know for sure what is going on.

The indifferent interview. You would think if a company dedicated time and resources to call you in for an interview, they would at least have the courtesy to let you know the outcome. Sometimes things slip through the cracks. Or, more likely, the job was put on hold. Don't give up and don't assume anything. Persistently and politely follow up with your contact at the company and inquire about the status of the job.

Don't Take It Personally

As much as you may take personal offense to an employer's lack of communication or perceived lack of common courtesy, never let it show. In the majority of cases, the representative from the company or recruiter is not against you personally, even though it may feel this way. This is business and at the end of the day, people take their marching orders from the leaders. Often, these commands do not take human factors into consideration as much as they should. Companies operate to make money, not fill open job requisitions. And this is the very reason HR and internal recruiters have such a difficult time meeting conflicting interests. They would love to respond to you, but there are usually extenuating circumstances that make that unrealistic. Give them a break and take accountability for finding out the status, by circumventing the process and being persistent.

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.

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