Alexa, Why Can’t I Get A Callback?

Emma Nwosisi
Feb 25, 2020 · 5 min read

Everybody likes to talk about rejection. Seriously, stop reading this for a minute and google rejection, I guarantee there are thousands of articles on the subject. While we focus on rejection, we ignore an equally important and even more distressing and common phenomenon, radio silence.

Why is it worse? Say there’s a firm that you’ve been wanting to work with all your life, you send in an application after conjuring up all the courage of your ancestors, you hear nothing from them. You begin to wonder; did they get your email? Did they forget to respond? Did they take one look at your application and go “who is this joker?”, chuckle, and delete the email? It’s so many questions. And yes, I write from a place of pain.

As someone who has been on both sides of the divide, I’m going to give you five reasons why you just can’t get a callback. These reasons, I have gathered mostly from personal experience, and partly from recruiters who I respect (and the internet). So, from a (micro) recruiter, here are five reasons why you didn’t get a response:

1. Your Email is a Mess

One mistake I encounter often is people sending emails that weren’t well thought out. I’ve seen subject lines that made me check if I was on the right email account. I got blank emails or emails that only said: “please find attached”. There were emails that made me check my surroundings for a sniper because it felt like someone was coming to beat the sweet baby Jesus into me. Now let me break it down.

When sending an email application, there are a few things to watch out for:

1. Your Subject: Your subject is the first look a recruiter gets at your email and determines whether or not they’d open it. You need to keep it concise and relevant, and you NEED to have one. If you’re applying for a design role, your subject should be something like this “Application for UX Design Intern Role”. That’s short enough for the recruiter to see without having to open the email and it conveys your purpose perfectly.

2. The Body: Your email should under no circumstances be blank. Whether or not the recruiter asks for a Cover Letter, the body of your email is your chance to sell yourself. Think of it like buying a book; the front cover is your subject, the synopsis on the back cover is your email content. You want it to be engaging, you want to show your best side, to leave the recruiter wanting more so they have no other option but to open your resume.

3. Your Tone: When writing your email, you want to sound confident and self-assured but humble. Adopt a tone that is pleasant but professional, talk to the recruiter like they’re that very good friend of yours who is also about 15 years your senior, so you’re soft-spoken and respectful.

4. Your Email Address: I left this for last because it is the most important to me. You need a professional email address, e.g., “firstname.lastname@zmail.com”. You don’t want to send a work email with “hoeloyepounds” as your email address; I’d delete that without opening it.

2. Your Resume

Suppose you got your email right, and the recruiter decides to open your resume, is your resume callback material? Your resume is the most important part of your application; what have you done and how have you described it? Your resume is 90% packaging, now I’m not asking you to lie, but how you present your experience is, in my opinion, more important than the experience at least in terms of your resume.

Scenario, two applicants who did the exact same job have this in their resumes

Applicant A

Intern at XYZ Company

~ I worked with the sales department.

Applicant B

Marketing Intern at XYZ Company

~ I conducted market research and helped implement new marketing strategies that increased sales by 40%.

~ I created and implemented an order tracking system that reduced delivery errors to almost 0 and saved the company north of 200,000.

Who are you going to call back? The one who worked with the sales department, or the one who showed how he made the company more money and saved them some money?

3. You’re Not Qualified for the Position

When a recruiter posts a job opening, they usually add what skills or qualifications they’re looking for, if you don’t meet their requirements, you’re not likely to get a response. Does this mean you shouldn’t apply for positions you’re not exactly qualified for? No, it doesn’t. Sometimes you will get a callback even if you’re unqualified because you’ve been able to show the recruiter other qualities they think are important and they want to take a chance on you.

4. They Didn’t See Your Application

Due to the sheer multitude of applications recruiters get, many of them now use some form of Applicant Tracking Software (ATS). What an ATS does is sort through all the applications received and rank them so the recruiters only need to go through the top 5%. How do you defeat the robots? ATS works like SEO, so to rank high, you need keywords. Every industry has its keywords, find them and naturally include them in your resume so you rank high on the ATS.

5. Recruiters are Overwhelmed

Quite often, recruiters get hundreds of applications for one position and it is simply impossible to respond to every single one of them. Most times, what they do is respond to applications they think stood out and applicants they want to keep in touch with.

Conclusion

Is ghosting unprofessional? Yes. Can recruiters help it? Mostly no. While job hunting, you will be ghosted countless times, but I hope the points here help you reduce that number. Good luck with your job search.

Emmanuella Nwosisi

Editor: Teju Adeyinka

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