You worked hard on a job or internship application and crossed your fingers when you pressed Send. And then nothing. Crickets. There are several reasons why you don't hear back about a job application, and while some things are out of our control, the more you understand why people aren't responding, the better you'll be able to adjust your approach to up your chances of getting a reply.
Reason 1: You're applying to entry-level jobs right out of school.
Even if you've had multiple internships during college at big name agencies, you still may not be qualified for an entry-level role. Frustrating as it is, having to do another internship after you graduate is now the norm.
Solution: Embrace it and put your energy towards applying for paid internships. Your time as an intern after you graduate will help you adjust to working full-time (which is different than working an internship that you know will be temporary), and give you more time to learn your role. Be sure to verify that there's an opportunity to join full-time after the internship—your goal of working at the agency longer term should be clear to whomever's hiring you. (Read about how to gain more control over getting hired after you internship here.)
Reason 2: You don't live in the city where the agency is located (yet).
After I graduated from UCLA, I worked in LA for two years before I started applying to jobs in NYC. I got very little response as a remote candidate, and it wasn't until I moved to NYC without a job that people started replying. So much of what gets you hired as a new grad is your personality and potential, so it's hard for agencies to take you seriously unless they can meet you in person. Also, while agencies will pay to relocate more senior talent, it's rare for them to invest in relocating jr. talent. Unless they're sure you're going to be in the same city, they usually won't waste their time. (Of course, there are exceptions, including structured internship programs.)
Solution: 1) Hit up any career fairs or portfolio reviews your school hosts—it's a great way to meet recruiters who've traveled to meet you face to face. 2) If you can swing it, move to the city you want to live in without a job. It's scary and you'll need some savings to tide you over, but employers will see that you've committed to being there and will be more open to an informational interview. 3) If you can't afford to move without a job, plan a trip and schedule as many informational/real interviews as you can. Use the fact that you'll be in town for a limited amount of time to push to get something scheduled.
Reason 3: You are one of hundreds of applicants.
If you applied to an online job posting, your application is sitting in someone's inbox along with hundreds of others. Recruiters and hiring managers are super busy, so it'll take them awhile to get through everyone's materials—if they even get through all of them. With rolling applications, they'll won't review everyone's application before reaching out to the people they like. They'll reach out as they come across applicants they're interested in, meaning they might find whom they're looking for before they even see your stuff.
Solution: As Meaghan Diamond, VP, Creative Recruiter at MullenLowe LA said in Episode 35, you should try to get in touch with the recruiter or someone on the team you're applying to join after you submit your application. “If there’s a job posted, it’s probably posted not just on your agency’s website, but in probably five or more other places that just pick it up. And think about the number of applicants per job—at least 100, at least. And then think about the amount of people that are going to take the time to reach out—it’s less than that. So you’re automatically breaking through. You’re top of the line.”
Reason 4: The timing is off.
When we get zero response, it's hard to tell exactly why. The timing being off is a great catch-all to help you not beat yourself up and move on from radio silences more quickly.
Solution: Maybe your amount of experience doesn't match up with what they need right now. That doesn't mean you won't be qualified for a job at that agency, ever. Or maybe they already filled the position right before your submitted your application. In both cases, the timing was off. Remind yourself that eventually the timing will line up. It just might take longer than you expected, which is totally normal and fine.
You got this,