No Answer Is Also an Answer (to Your Online Job Application)

You spotted the perfect position in the online want ads. Your background fits exactly. You applied diligently. The next day… nothing. Day two… still nothing. You console yourself that the employer is reviewing applicants internally, but your resume will end up on top of the heap. Day three… Day four… Nothing. No answer, not even a “No, thank you.”

We’ve probably all had this experience, and it is inevitably disheartening.

But why does it happen?

Many employers make a point of thanking every applicant for their time and interest even if they fail to move forward. However, many other employers do not make this effort at all. A total lack of response may be a clue to the culture of the organization.

Inherently, the published market for executive positions is designed to be biased in favor of the employer. Scores, maybe hundreds, or even thousands of applicants see the same ad, and many will complete the application. Employers and recruiters have long used ATS (applicant tracking systems) to comb through applications and discover those candidates that seem to be the best fit. This is primarily done by using a keyword-matching algorithm. This means the employer has all the leverage in the recruitment discussion. And the likely result is that the successful applicant will ultimately also not earn top dollar.

Will more sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) tools improve applicants’ chances? Possibly: “…many tools are becoming more accessible to the average job seeker […] including a resume builder, cover letter generator, LinkedIn profile analysis, and job application tracker.” [see source.]

On the other hand, AI never sleeps and employers are even now being offered enhanced services, too. For example, here is a live solicitation from an AI vendor received by TBG on February 1:

Reviewing countless resumes to find a perfect candidate is a huge hassle, especially if you have to deal with multiple open positions. That was the case for one of our clients who was getting hundreds of resumes daily. And they were struggling to sift through the resume database.

That’s where we stepped in, offering our AI solution – [Solution Name], built on top of ChatGPT4, which can read through your resume database based on simple queries and return your best matches instantly, saving you valuable time. Ready to redefine your hiring experience? Imagine a seamless process where the right candidates surface effortlessly.

Of course, the bigger impact AI will exert is on the structure of the market—the employment opportunities themselves—as certain tasks are automated and incumbents downsize accordingly even as new tasks and roles are created. One recent survey reported that “…44% of companies expect layoffs to occur in 2024 due to new AI capabilities.” [see source.] If you feel your position is at risk, here are two other resources relevant to identifying and responding to the threat of being replaced by AI:

More on that in just a moment, but now let’s get back to your disappointment in not receiving a positive answer to your job application. Perhaps it is important that you realize you are fishing in only a small part of the pond when you apply online.

In fact, there is another larger executive opportunity market available with far less competition: the unpublished market.

You see, The Barrett Group has been helping executives clarify their career goals and then discover their dream jobs for more than 30 years. Only about 15% of our clients actually land through want ads posted online. Another 10% land through recruiters. The other 75%—the vast majority—land through the unpublished market where neither AI nor ATS have much say about who talks to whom when. [read more.] Of course, The Barrett Group also excels at helping clients change industries, roles, and locations—or all three—and this may be extremely helpful if AI is likely to invade your profession.

It is also possible to succeed through the published market—if you know what you are doing—but that requires perfect packaging. [read more.] Even more important is clarity on your goals. If you plan to make a change or you must make a change or someone else made you change, for example through restructuring, make sure, first, that you are not simply going to repeat the experience that led to the change in the first place. Take back your power and consider your options first because, most likely, you have more than you know.


Because of the Clarity Program© (the first step in The Barrett Group career change process). Who knows, you may be happier or better remunerated or both in another industry, role, or location. So, The Barrett Group does not take your professional history as an unambiguous indicator of your next step. Instead, this crucial first stage helps clients examine their personalities, preferences, current circumstances, and strategic plans to achieve well-rounded professional satisfaction. Graduates of the Clarity Program give it extremely high marks in helping them clarify their true objectives. [read more.]

Remember, finding that perfect executive role is not a static process but extremely dynamic. The market is in constant flux—almost 500,000 executives took on new positions in The Barrett Group’s core markets during the past year. Add to that the possibility that some roles will be eliminated by AI, and you may want to accelerate your career change ambitions to target safer and more satisfying roles.

So, if you want to stop wondering why no one responds to your online application, take your power back.

Step one is to expand your search to the entire market (not just the online or recruiter markets where the employer has all the power). Step two is to get some help from someone who has been doing this successfully for decades. Your best bet is to hire The Barrett Group—recognized now for years by Forbes as one of the best in the business. [read more.]

If you are tired of waiting for employers to call you, be proactive! Contact The Barrett Group today and make your move!
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