What to do when you hear crickets after applying for a job

I know what it feels like to hear nothing after applying for a job. You send out your job applications and hearing nothing back but crickets. This can make you feel hopeless, helpless and completely confused. But there is hope. If you aren’t getting any bites from your job applications, it doesn’t mean there is no hope.


It does mean that you need to take a time-out though and think about why your job applications aren’t hitting the spot with potential employers.

Unfortunately, what usually happens in times like this, is that you’re tempted to just keep plodding along and shooting your resume and cover letter out willy-nilly. It is a numbers game after all. Right?  

Well, you could look at it that way. Or, you could spend some time reflecting on your situation and come up with an action plan to move forward intentionally. I can guarantee you that the latter option will give you higher quality results. Here are some steps to work through, to improve your overall application.  

1. Follow up after applying for a job 

For some of you, this might seem like basic advice. For others, it made the hair on the back of your neck stand up. I know that it can seem like a scary idea, following up on an application you have sent. But if you haven’t heard anything, there is really no harm in checking in after applying for a job.  

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not in any way suggesting that you start stalking employers, calling repeatedly or sending email after email to find out where the process is up to. That type of behaviour is not cool, and unfortunately it happens all too often. If you have a contact email address for the convenor of the process, or someone in HR though, a kindly worded email asking for an update, won’t go astray. You might even be lucky enough to get some feedback on your application.  

2. Ask for feedback 

If the first point had you wriggling, then this one might seem even worse. But honestly, feedback is one of the best ways to improve. It is important to note that recruiters and potential employers aren’t obliged to provide feedback to candidates, but some will, especially if you ask nicely.  

If you have received an unsuccessful notification for a job you applied for, consider writing back. Ask if they are able to provide any feedback on your application, or tips on how you could improve your application next time. Sure, they could say no, but that’s the second worst thing that could happen. The worst would be if you received feedback and didn’t take it on board. That would be a wasted opportunity.   

3. Go back to basics and review your APPLICATION

Let me guess. You haven’t looked at your application since you submitted it. Well, time to get it out and take a look! Check for any mistakes, or areas that you could improve. You can find some tips on refining your resume and cover letter here and here. Remember though, this is a learning and development exercise. No good will come from beating yourself up if you do find a mistake, or notice areas that you could have done better.  

Some things to look out for include:  

  • Spelling or grammatical errors;  
  • Areas where you have been vague or made ambiguous statements;  
  • Not tailoring your application to suit the role you were applying for; or 
  • Not selling your key skills, knowledge, experience and achievements in relation to the position description or advertisement.  

Applying for jobs and hearing crickets? Use these tips to maximise your results!

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4. Consider whether you are suited to the jobs you are applying for 

This might hurt a little, especially if it rings true, but I see a lot of applications from candidates who are not qualified, who don’t have the right experience, or who are not competitive enough for the roles they are applying for. Could this be you?  

Applying for jobs that aren’t quite right for you sometimes happens, particularly if you are feeling desperation to change your current situation. But it isn’t doing you any favours in the long run. Firstly, you could be flooding the market with your resume. This is a red flag for employers and recruiters. If they see you continuously applying for roles you aren’t suitable for, it isn’t a good look. It shows that you aren’t really making a self-assessment about your suitability before applying, which could be considered lack of judgment or laziness.  

Secondly, applying for jobs you aren’t suitable for will affect your confidence and resilience in the longer term. Repeated rejection isn’t good for anyone, no matter how thick your skin is. You can avoid this, in part, by making sure that you are qualified and competitive for the roles you are throwing your hat in the ring for. This might mean that you need to consider applying for roles at a slightly lower level, in a different industry, or that require another (more relevant) skill set.  

Thirdly, and finally, when you apply for roles you aren’t suitable for, you risk actually securing a role you aren’t suitable for. Sound like a win? It’s not. I’ve seen way too many people talk themselves into roles they weren’t a good fit for and it always ends in disaster. Whether that be in the form of performance issues, high stress and pressure to succeed, or general unhappiness. These are all points worth thinking about before you submit your next application.  

5. Tweak, change and tailor, tailor, tailor! 

Now that you have followed up, sought feedback, reviewed your applications and considered whether you are applying for the right jobs, it is time to put your learnings into action. Tweak, change, edit, pivot and tailor your resume and cover letter to suit the roles you want to apply for.  

Be strong. This phase can be difficult, as you tear apart your previous applications to update and upgrade them, but it will all be worth it, knowing that you have done everything in your power to create a thoughtful, tailored application.  

6. Seek out a professional career coach or resume WRITER

If you have ticked all of the boxes, you have updated your application and you are still not getting any bites, it might be time for you to seek out some external help. Getting a friend or colleague to look over your applications might be helpful. But honestly, I would recommend engaging a professional.   

A resume writer will be able to take a look at your application documents and work with you to recreate them, with both content and design in mind. Your resume writer should have a consultation with you, to talk about your skills, experience and the types of jobs that you are applying for. They will help you to tailor your application to help you stand out from the crowd when you apply.  

A career coach will be more qualified to help you understand whether you are applying for the right roles. They can also help to ensure you're positioning yourself to be attractive to potential employers. A career coach will also be able to work with you on the mindset stuff. As I have mentioned, you might be feeling stressed, under pressure or burnt out after a hard road in trying to secure your ideal role. It can be worthwhile to work with someone to push through these barriers so that you are more confident and in control when it comes time to go for an interview.

So, there you have it! No more waiting in the dark! If there is something I can help you with, to get back on track and get noticed in the job market, feel free to reach out. I’d love to work with you and wish you all the best with your job search.


About the Author


Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.

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