• Mark Pearce

How to approach employers when your job applications are ignored

Getting hit by a meteorite. Beating Usain Bolt over 100m. Hearing back from employers with news on your job application.

A list of things that are as probable as winning the lottery this weekend. When over 90% of job applications aren't responded to (Australian average figures), you'd be better off praying for your numbers to come in.

Here's some good news. This blog will tell you how to increase your chances of hearing back from more employers.

Job applicants need to rethink their approach

By changing your line of usual thinking, you will create results for yourself. There are several reasons why you don't hear back from employers after you've applied for a job. Here are two.

Poorly written job adverts attract lots of people. You are one among scores of people applying for the same job. Your chances of success? Pull up a chair and throw your money at a blackjack table.

A company with a poor job application process means you probably won't hear back. You're only populating an employer's database.

Is it possible they'll contact you in future? If you think having your resume among thousands increases your chances of hearing back, think again. Any company that boasts a large database is having you on.

90% of their database hasn't been contacted in the past 12 months. How can they keep in touch with everyone? Large databases are where resumes go to die.The GDPR has taken care of that.  

How do you feel when a job has been filled by someone internally? Why did the company advertise? If you had known an internal candidate was being considered, you wouldn't have wasted your time.

It's poor and it's disheartening when employers don't respond to you. It's easy to see why you'd avoid these companies and why you'd advise others to.

How do you improve your chances of hearing back?

If you're ignored what should you do? Follow me for a bit longer....

Over 60% of jobs are never advertised. You're never told that. You're meant to believe every job has to be advertised on job boards to be genuine.

7 in 10 jobs are filled by someone who is known to the hiring manager or by someone who has contacted them directly. Think about it for a minute. Contacting the hiring manager directly means your application rests with them - not lost in an ATS graveyard.

There's more than one way to approach hiring managers. Here's a short list of ideas to get you started:

Research employers and approach hiring managers directly  

Information on a company or person is literally a click away. Before approaching anyone you should perform some research - on them and their company. Besides LinkedIn, you can enter a number of search terms into Google, like these:

site:www.companyname.com (projects OR news) - This search string gives you a number of relevant articles you can refer to in communications with the hiring manager. (Adjust the search string to include any other important information you are searching for in the brackets). When approaching hiring managers, let them know what you've read about them/their company.

filetype:PDF firstname lastname - this search string tells you if the hiring manager is mentioned in any published articles. Again, refer to this in your communications.

If you want to quick guide on Boolean searches, visit www.booleanblackbelt.com - this website offers great advice on how to find people, companies and relevant information you're seeking.


Love it or hate it, it's still the most used business media tool to contact someone. Not every hiring manager is on here, but it's still a great place to start.

Have a look if your first connections are connected with someone working for the organisation you've just applied to. If they are, ask for an introduction.

Run a search on companies you respect and find people who have previously worked there. There's a good chance one of your connections has also worked there. It's worth asking them who they know and who they can introduce you to.

Email / phone

If you haven't found someone to contact, find the company's website and look for key people. In the unlikely event you can't find a name, pick up the phone and ask who runs the department you'd potentially be working in.

In a minute, you'll be writing an email to them.

When you write to hiring managers you need to ensure your emails are relevant and written for their benefit - not yours. You should first outline something you have researched - a project, a recent contract win, or something about them you've read.

This demonstrates you've researched and you're interested. Job applications on recruitment portals don't allow you to do this.

Next, you want to be creative and explain to the hiring manager what you can do for them and their department. Think about how you've previously improved something at work.

How do you remove problems? Example: explain how you increased workflow production by 40% in your last job by removing a recurring issue.

If you want to attach your resume to the email ensure it is updated, it is relevant and it highlights how you can add significant value to them and their department. It's understandable you might not be comfortable with this approach but fortune favours the bold.

Work with a specialist recruiter

If you are still having no luck, find yourself a recruiter who specialises in what you do. There are some great recruiters, who have strong relationships with companies. Their relationships can open doors for you with hiring managers and they will help you differentiate yourself to make the right approach.

A great recruiter will ask you a series of qualification questions and work with you to highlight you as a standout candidate. They can also tell you about a company's plans, it's current challenges, and whether any internal candidates are lined up for jobs you're interested in.

A great recruiter takes away the fear of approaching a hiring manager, if you're still not 100% confident of doing it yourself.

Final thought: If you don't try something different, don't expect employers to get back to you.

What now?

Inverse Energy is a search consultancy based in Perth, Western Australia with a focus on mid to senior management and leadership jobs across the energy, mining, infrastructure and defence sectors - worked on a retained or exclusive basis.