Let’s say you apply for a particular job, and you never hear back. What do you have to lose by reapplying for the position?
In theory, the worst that could happen is you never hear back—again. But if you’re qualified, and you truly feel that you’re a good fit for the organization, you can tailor your second approach to the circumstances surrounding your initial application—and in some cases, end up landing the job.
A successful approach, however, takes a bit of strategizing. What works for a candidate who previously interviewed and didn’t get the job is different than one who merely applied and never heard back from the potential employer.
Candidates Vs. Screening Software
Thanks to the rise of cheaper applicant-tracking software, it’s more difficult to reapply for the same position at the same company without getting noticed.
“Aside from the compliance and technology, here are a few things affecting the process,” said Dirk Spencer, a corporate recruiter and author. Candidates should be aware that, at each company, it’s likely the same core team reviewing applications, making it easier to track candidates who’ve been previously rejected.
In light of that, changing your resume’s appearance and content is critical. Spencer advises:
- Change the resume layout, font, point size and organization of experience statements.
- Take the time to express your experiences in a more relevant and granular fashion, e.g. include data that will quantify the experience (numbers, percentages, etc.).
- Ensure the résumé contains strong keywords to create a livelier and more contemporary feel; also mention your professional accomplishments, including books published, speaking appearances, etc.
- Use a different email address and phone number when re-applying. A second email is easy to set up and another phone number can be acquired via a VoIP phone provider.
Stay in Touch and Let Time Pass
While a month or two seems like an eternity when you’re looking for a new position, it’s barely a minute on HR’s clock. You should allow some time to pass between application attempts. In the interim, candidates need to keep their experience updated and on-point, so hiring personnel can see the professional progression.
That waiting strategy worked for Memphis-based career coach Angela Copeland, who had an in-person interview for a position that ended up being just outside her skill level. “For the next year or so, I stayed in touch with the hiring manager via e-mail,” she said. “A year later, he hired me for an identical position.” The gap gave her the opportunity to learn new skills and improve upon existing ones; staying in touch gave the hiring manager the benefit of finding out who she was beyond a single impression.
Get an Answer
If you see the job reposted, it’s worth writing back to the employer, letting them know that you’ve met before and that you continue to be interested in the position. It’s possible that they didn’t find the right person the first time and they’ve revised their criteria. The worst that could happen is that you receive a polite rejection note; then again, they may be eager to fill the position with someone who has your skills and experience.
Laura MacLeod, an HR guru who specializes in staff communication, suggested that, at the end of an interview, candidates ask when they can expect to hear back. “Don’t let HR get away with not getting back to you,” she said. “If you don’t hear from someone, call and inquire: ‘I’m gathering since I haven’t heard, I didn’t get X position. I’m wondering if you could let me know why—this would be very helpful to me going forward. I value your feedback.’”
If their response is encouraging, ask about applying for similar jobs in the future. “This way you know what you’re dealing with,” MacLeod continued. “Don’t just reapply without testing the waters. You’ll waste everyone’s time.”