Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Why Can't I Get a Response to My Resume/Freelance Inquiry

Many applicants/freelancers feel as if their credentials disappear into the black hole of e-mail space once they hit the send button because they never hear back from companies.

"Is anyone on the other end of the send button? Is a live person actually reviewing my credentials?" You may legitimately be wondering this and the answer is an unqualified, "Yes!"

Then why don't you ever hear anything? The cold reality is that it has become commonplace for companies not to respond UNLESS an applicant/freelancer has been selected for an interview.

The advent of e-mail has made it possible for many more applicants to fire off a resume/portfolio. So, many hiring managers are inundated with resumes/inquiries from the minute a job is posted. This makes the screening process that much longer.

An Inside Look at How the Recruiting/Screening Process Works

Once a job/assignment is posted, it is not unusual for the hiring manager to receive 3-5 extremely qualified applicants the first day. Depending on the size of the company, these candidates are then referred directly to the editor/manager/director in charge of hiring. They usually consult with a team of 3-4 people to decide who bring in for an interview.

Say they select 2 out of the 3-5 submitted. If these 2 applicants are brought in for 2-3 interviews, this can take several weeks because schedules have to be arranged so that the applicant can be interviewed by all concerned parties.

If by chance neither of the submitted applicants are offered the job, then the process starts all over again.

Recruiters/hiring managers will continue to accept resumes until a position is filled. BUT, they usually select those they will refer for an interview from qualified apps received within the first 24-48 hours a job is posted. The reason is expediency. While you may send in your credentials within the first 2-3 days, if the employer already has 5 or 6 extremely qualified applicants, there is simply no need to look further.

So, try to be among the first batch of applicants to apply. Bookmark job boards you frequent and check them daily. This can be the difference between your credentials being reviewed, or not.

Tip: Many recruiters and human resources managers often check e-mail on the weekends or in the evenings when there is less going on. And, many will email you right then, asking that you contact them the next (business) day to set up a phone/in-person interview, request more material, etc. I worked this way when I was recruiting. This put the onus upon the applicant to call.

I reasoned that if an applicant was really interested in a position, they would get back to me. If an applicant didn't call when I'd asked them to, I might follow up with a call or email, depending on if other applicants I'd contacted for the same position responded.

Putting the onus upon an applicant to contact me at a certain time also saved me time. How? Email makes the process of applying for jobs so easy that many times applicants who are not "that interested" in a position will fire off a resume b/c the position "looks interesting." I called these "lookey-loos." These were less likely to get back to me than someone who was really interested in a position.

During the normal workday day, there were simply too many fires to put out to actively contact new applicants. This was because I was busy trying to complete other business during the day.

I knew that I could contact applicants almost any time (simply because they were the ones seeking jobs). But, if I needed to check a reference, follow up on a contract or set up a second interview, the person I needed to speak with could most likely only be called during the 9-5 workday.

Parting Tips: Check job boards you frequent DAILY; send in your credentials IMMEDIATELY; and follow up with a thank you card if selected for an interview. I know this last bit may seem trite, but I can count the number of thank you cards I received on one hand during the 7+ years I recruited.

I ALWAYS remembered applicants who did this and went out of my way to recommend them for positions because it spoke volumes about their professional character.

How to send thank yous -- email or regular mail? Both, unless you are instructed to do otherwise. Don't forget to ask for business cards at the end of every interview. Send a quick thank you via email and drop a thank you card in the mail no later than 24 hours after the interview. Trust me, interviewers always remember this because so few do it.
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