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In the olden days... and what’s happening today

16 September 2019 at 7:30 am
Marilyn Jones
Experienced recruiter Marilyn Jones looks back on the changes in recruiting over the last 10 years and shines some light on what’s going on when you don’t get a reply from a prospective employer.

Marilyn Jones | 16 September 2019 at 7:30 am


In the olden days... and what’s happening today
16 September 2019 at 7:30 am

Experienced recruiter Marilyn Jones looks back on the changes in recruiting over the last 10 years and shines some light on what’s going on when you don’t get a reply from a prospective employer.

Do you often not get a reply from employers or companies when applying for a role? Are you applying to so many jobs that you have lost track of the role and the company? Do you find there are so many places to look it’s overwhelming? Maybe you can’t find the jobs that suit you, or the role you want has been filled before you know about it, as it was filled through the hidden networking market?   

These are all comments from candidates that I have talked with over the years about the job market and their search for their next opportunity. After thinking about these comments, I felt I should use some of the next blogs to address these issues in more detail.

When I started out in recruitment 21 years ago there was no internet and no online jobs and although it was very busy, it was a very different busy.

To advertise a role, you had to have your position description formatted by an external marketing company (no Canva back then) and submitted by fax by Thursday so that it could go in the papers on a Saturday. 

We would often come into the office on a Monday to find that the fax paper had run out as people would fax their CV’s to us. We would then wait a week or so for the letters and CV’s to arrive, and then we would interview the candidates.  

Other than me just reminiscing, it is a reminder that there were a few important aspects that are now missed in today’s hiring environment.

In 1998

  1. Everyone would get a written letter in reply to their application, whether they were successful or not. 
  2. Every CV would be looked at and filed.
  3. The phone would run hot on a Monday morning regarding the role. Candidates would be told “no” if they were not suitable. Candidates then knew whether they were in or out pretty quickly.
  4. We had a lot more communication with candidates. We had to screen candidates by phone as that was how you booked in interviews.
  5. We had newsletters just to keep candidates in touch. 

In 2019

  1. You may or may not get a reply.
  2. Your CV may never be seen by eyes. Only a computer. 
  3. No one picks up the phone to call – neither client nor candidate. It is email only.

Today, with this lack of communication, candidates are often anxiously waiting for some sort of feedback. Could you have been a potential candidate for the role? In a lot of cases, you just don’t know if you stood any chance at all. And if you were a good candidate you may have been missed as you just didn’t articulate your expertise well enough.  

So, returning to those comments, let’s start with: 

Why today, are you not getting a reply from employers or companies when applying for a role.

What is happening? 

I advertised a role last week as there was no one suitable in my database or network. We had over 170 people apply within one week. This is quite a lot to contend with, to read through all the applications.   

I can automate replies, and try to do so, so at the very least I don’t miss anyone. But it’s often the case that companies that do not have the software tools to do so, never get back to you. And it’s because many times they just don’t have the staff or time to reply.

It’s also because there are so many applicants that can easily press “yes” on the application button, even though they are not quite right for the role. They then clog up the system with too many CV’s so that yours becomes lost in the 170. 

I have talked in the past about getting out of the black hole. The right keywords, the right articulation, a well-thought out format, and, as per my previous blog, a suitable cover letter are all important. Not forgetting of course, the phone call!

I will say that of those 170 I did not get one phone call. Not one. I know I keep going on about it, but it really does frustrate me. 

And, of the 170 only 10 had a cover letter. 

So, who do you think I am going to look at first? 

Another thing to remember is that recruitment agencies are free for you as a candidate. If you have to pay for something to be registered, then this is not appropriate. They are paid by the company they are working on behalf of, so many times their focus is not on you but on filling the role. 

This can be short sighted, and I see a lot more agencies looking after their candidates but remember that the number of candidates is sometimes in the many thousands or hundreds of thousands for recruitment agencies compared to the few clients that they are working with. You pay nothing to them. So therefore, don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed.

Having said that, there are many good ones out there and this is where you can build some great relationships that can be long term. It’s worth still registering. 

Good recruiters will look through their database before they advertise a role and that is why it is good to be registered with those in your sector. But you should get used to the fact that you will see roles that you are suitable for advertised through them when they haven’t called you. You should call them or follow up! They may have missed you in the search and or the client they are working for may specifically want them to advertise. 

If an agency is advertising for a role that is not what you want but is in a similar company or industry, it’s still good to register with them. 

Ask friends and colleagues who they have used and who they like, and to make an introduction.

Send a thank you email or note to the recruiter even if you don’t get the role, as you don’t know what can happen down the track.

I hope that helps you understand what’s going on when you don’t always get a reply. Please don’t give up!

Marilyn Jones  |  @ProBonoNews

Marilyn Jones is an executive recruiter experienced in resourcing staff for companies and assisting individuals with their careers.

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    Dear Marilyn – Thank YOU for your very valid comments on getting your foot in the door for a position.
    the 2019 world of job seeking is far from the days of the 90’s. I am glad that you pointed out very simple positive behaviours to
    follow such as making that phone call, touching base with your identified company of choice, to get a face to face interview.
    A great article

    • mexec careers says:

      Hi Anne,
      Thank you for your comment – Marilyn is currently travelling but has received your comment and will respond in a few days.
      Kind regards,
      Sarah Cuypers

      Recruitment Administrator

      0437 332 272

    • Marilyn Jones says:

      thanks for the comments Anne. Things have changed a lot and are changing more so. I know keeping up for those that look for work not very often can be daunting. its daunting also for us in the industry to keep abreast- at least I think so, There are a lot of positives and its going to change but I think as recruiters we have to remember that there is a human behind each application and each CV and when you deal with 1000s that can be lost. cheers Marilyn

    • mexec careers says:

      thanks Anne. I hope that some of them help you out and let us know how you go. cheers Marilyn

  • John says:

    Hi Marilyn, just a comment on your point regarding phone calls. As a person who likes to call, it is frustrating in that most companies do not give you the option or take the time to respond to you. Very rarely, when a name and phone are listed, will I be able to get to the person. The standard response, “they are busy, ring back later”, most not even taking a note of my details. Those that do never seem to pass it on as people never call back. After a week of calling and getting no response I give up calling. When I get the email from the “Talent Group” when I submit my CV, I know that there is absolutely no way I will be able to contact them.
    While there are exceptions to every rule, the majority or recruiters (company and consultancies) are not approachable by phone and for that matter emails (, it makes it hard to stand out.
    While it is nice to hear that there is someone who would like us to pick up the phone, candidates have been conditioned not to.
    Thanks for listening to my rant.

    • mexec careers says:

      Hi John,
      Thank you for your message – Marilyn is currently travelling but has received your comment and will respond in a few days.
      Kind regards,
      Sarah Cuypers

      Recruitment Administrator

      0437 332 272

    • mexec careers says:

      Thanks for the comment John. I know your frustration. Its a problem I hear all the time. I encourage you to network in the industry and try to bypass the advertised roles and seek out the ‘hidden ones’ that are not advertised, In that case you are not up against others and this aspect of the job search frustration. I know I have probably not called back someone( but hope that they did follow me up) and have heard horror stories of companies that just delete 40 calls. I think that is rude to put a number on an ad and then not follow up. I think also if you look at one of my recent blogs prior to this one on some other reasons why this happens. I hope you are able to find that employer that treats you with respect and when you are in the area of hiring yourself that you remember how you felt to be on the other side. All the best in the job search.

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