How To Deal With The Soul-Crushing Reality Of Not Hearing Back About A Job

Applying for jobs is a loveless, thankless task. All we want is a reply, but most of the time we get nada. But that’s not a reason to give up. Instead, it might be time to change our perspective.

It’s by far the most frustrating aspect of job searching. After carefully customising your resume and cover letter to exactly match the specific criteria in the position description, you optimistically click send on your application. You’re on a natural high for a few days, elated that you actually did something.

Then nothing. Zilch. Radio silence on all fronts. You confidently decide to send a follow-up email, asking if there’s been any progress with your application. But it’s the same story, an empty inbox and a nagging feeling that you’ll be stuck navigating the maniacal labyrinth of the job hunt forever.

The entire concept the modern job search can be perceived as demoralising, unfair and it may even be making us bitter. It’s an archaic system with resume “rules” and secretive hiring processes. But take stock in the fact that you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 75% of eager job applicants didn’t hear back from a potential employer in the previous year.

Don’t lose heart. Here’s a pep talk to get you back on the job hunting horse.

Yes, you’re right to feel angry

After pouncing on your phone every time it vibrates hoping for a response, a few days pass without hearing a thing. A week, two, three pass, and you’re getting the sneaking suspicion you’re being ghosted. You check your Sent Mail compulsively just to double check your email actually went through, but it did. Of course it did.

Your hopefulness turns indignant – and for good reason.



Yes, employers are only human. And yes, there’s only so much time in the day. You expect just a simple email – hell, even an automated email – to say, “Thank you for applying, but your application has been unsuccessful.” But unfortunately that’s just not how the system works. So be mad, be angry, then quickly get over it.

It’s the current trend

It’s not you, it’s me. Well not me, but society. I could write a novel about the injustices faced by job hunters in today’s current employment market, the worst of which might be the news that up to 80% of jobs don’t actually get advertised.

And if it seems that the hiring process happened a lot faster in the past, you’re not wrong. According to research, the process of hiring an employee has lengthened staggeringly. In the US, average hiring times – namely, the gap between sending your application and when you get an offer or a rejection – grew from 12.6 days in 2010 to 22.9 days in 2014. For anyone agonising over gaining employment, that’s snail pace.

Remember, it’s probably not your fault

“Sadly, many times it is simple rudeness that is present when a candidate never gets a response after a job interview,” HR expert Steve Kane tells Forbes. “This should never happen at a sophisticated, progressive employer. Obviously, if someone is going through the effort of preparing for an interview, they deserve some idea of their likelihood of receiving an offer.”

That’s just it, isn’t it? All we’re asking for is a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If it’s a ‘no’, we’ll accept it and move on. But without a definitive answer either way, we’re left listless, checking our inboxes compulsively, waiting not-so-patiently for a response.


But we can learn from it

Maybe there’s a reason your resume hasn’t made it past the first stage? Everyone (and I mean everyone) experiences rejection. But what if it’s the 20th knock back? Then it might be time to take stock. Consider changing the style of your resume, try adjusting your social media presence, or up your Linkedin game, or simply change your go-to greeting of “Hello sir/madam” and actually find the name of the person you’re emailing. This isn’t time to dwell, it’s time to take action.

Here’s a few handy tips on nailing your job search and streamling your resume without lying.

Don’t take it personally

Easier said than done, I know. Hearing nothing from someone who holds the keys to an exciting new job – and maybe your future happiness – can be crushing. Still, it’s important not to lose hope.

Lower your expectations, and realise the reality of the situation here: that not hearing back might just be how it works these days. Don’t get bitter; keep your head down, do the work, and keep applying.

Make a pact for the future

At the very least least, we can learn something from this conveyor belt of radio silence rejection. Let’s make a pact that when we’re in our dream jobs, flying high in our position of power, we’ll remember the struggle of the job hunter. We’ve been there. We’ve lived it. And we know better.

Rebecca Russo is a freelance writer, editor, community radio dabbler, occasional hiker and celebrity autobiography enthusiast. She has written for online publications including Junkee, AWOL, Fashion Journal and Tone Deaf. Find her online here.