“It really saps my morale and sometimes I can get quite upset about it. Am I of no value to anyone out there? I could send dozens of emails in a week and the silence is deafening”. 

So says one very disheartened job applicant.

So why don’t you get a reply to your application for that TV job? Let me count the whys:

  1. Volume: for any one job advertised there may be thousands of replies – certainly hundreds. Smaller production companies don’t have a dedicated department like HR to manage applications and can’t reply to all of them.
  2. HR doesn’t have a system: in larger companies, such as the main broadcasters, the HR department manages job applications. The producer and executives hand over the responsibility to that department and rely on them to respond accordingly. However the HR department may have no system for replying to applicants and if it does it’s more likely to be an impersonal one. They may acknowledge your application and if you’re lucky explain you haven’t been successful but no more. The BBC offers feedback to those who have been to interview.
  3. Everyone assumes someone else is replying: it happens. TV people are busy people often working at great speed and the priority is generally the programme rather than the system. They skim though CVs, ask a PA or secretary to set up interviews, secure the best candidate and then get back to the programme demands. They may simply forget that you are still out there wondering what happened or assume someone else informed you of the outcome.
  4. They don’t know what to say: a poor excuse this one but some recruiters find it hard to give candidates bad news. Sometimes it’s easier to put if off until you’ve forgotten or not bother at all.  It’s a cop out but saying nothing is easier for some people than telling candidates what they don’t want to hear.
  5. They haven’t got a good reason: providing feedback is hard when there are several good candidates and the employer can’t really verbalise the deciding factor that led them to one person over another. Again this is no excuse. Some feedback is better than no feedback even if it’s simply to say it was a close call.
  6. They don’t want to put anything in writing: the recruitment process is hazardous and if not monitored by an experienced HR person can lead recruiters into trouble.  Providing feedback in writing means it can be shared or used in evidence against the employer. An ill-judged comment in writing (“your age stood against you,” “given your desire to have a family we felt the job would be unsuited to you,” and so on!) can get an employer sued.
  7. They don’t care: another likely scenario. Truth is if you haven’t been to interview and they haven’t met you, you are just a name, a CV in a huge pile of names and CVs. Apart from the enormity of the task that is responding to hundreds of applicants, the fact is you are just a statistic. If you have been to interview and not received a response then frankly the recruiters should be ashamed of themselves!
  8. Bad manners: do you always reply to every email? Do you send thank you letters when friends and family send you birthday presents?  How many people do these days? Manners, my mum would say, are not valued as much as they used to be. Manners are all too often seen as old fashioned or irrelevant. They aren’t. Manners are simply showing respect for people.
  9. The recruitment process has been outsourced: this means that your application is not even being dealt with by someone on the production or even at the company itself and even more likely to leave you languishing as a mere name and number.
  10. You didn’t address your application correctly: whether by post or email it is important to follow the instructions. If an advert asks you to quote a particular reference number then do it. Make sure you do not give a recruiter any excuse to ditch your application. A surprising number of people don’t check the detail in their own applications.


What you say about the lack of replies to your job applications:

We opened up this topic on our Facebook page and got a number of interesting and heartfelt comments. Go HERE to read them and join in the conversation.  The upshot really is that applicants feel disheartened in an already difficult job market by the lack of acknowledgement.

As Grant Crockett says, “A response is better than no response at all. Even if it is the slightly disingenuous ‘We shall keep your details on file for the future’. “

Danielle Cooper adds: “It leaves one wondering if anybody is looking at one’s application and evaluating it in any detail. A personal response at least gives the impression that we are being considered as an individual, on our individual merits.”

Markus Black says he hasn’t had ANY replies, negative or positive, in over 6 months while others are still waiting for replies having asked a production company several times for an answer about their application. Sam says, “It smacked of not caring, when as an applicant I really, really cared about that job.”

Chris Dodd points out the BBC outsource their recruitment to Capita making the process even further removed from the production.

Antonella di Franco makes a very good point that everyone should heed: “It helps a lot taking into consideration that at the end of the day the recruiters are people too, who might have a very busy workload and might get bored reading 20-30 CV’s a day and might decline one just after few seconds of a skim through. I once met a recruitment consultant who told me they’re so busy they literally have no time to send rejection/update emails to candidates even if they wanted to. Thinking that it’s nothing personal helped me a lot with coping with the stress of rejections.”

That’s an important fact to remember. It is very rarely personal so don’t take it personally.  Not receiving a response to your application doesn’t mean you have no value or that you are never going to get a job. It just means recruiters out there are spoiled for choice and are far too busy, lazy or forgetful to send that reply.


Poll Results:

We did a poll on the site asking how often you got a reply when applying for an advertised job in TV. Forty four percent of you have NEVER had a reply to your job applications and NONE of you have always had a response to every application. The results were as follows:

Sometimes (1 in 4 applications): 52%

Never (having applied for over 10 jobs): 26%

Never (having applied for under 10 jobs): 18%

Mostly (1 in 2 job applications): 3%

Always: the poll gave us a response of 1% but the number of votes cast was 0. That’s a Zero % in my eyes!

What would have been more interesting is asking how many applicants having been to an interview got a reply. Maybe we’ll do that now….


What you need to do to get noticed:

Write a compelling CV and covering letter. It really, really matters! There is free advice on this site on writing CVs so go check those out or invest in my eBook, An Expert’s Guide to Getting into TV which has detailed advice and before & after examples of CVs, plus advice on covering letters. If you want me to do your CV for you go HERE for details.

Find a personal contact if at all possible and use it: however tenuous the link saying ‘so-and-so” suggested I send you my CV will help (assuming they know “so-and-so”!).  Go to networking events and hope to engineer a meeting with a TV employer and ask you can send them your CV. Tap up everyone you meet in a work experience placement for a contact.

Be polite: it works both ways. Use charm in your application and on the telephone. Call for a response if you don’t get one in writing and charm the person who answers the phone in the hope they may be able to pass you on to the relevant person or find the information for you.


General feedback and Advice:

Many of you have been completing application forms for various training or networking opportunities, including the BBC’s highly coveted Production Talent Pool.  Again it would be impossible for the BBC to provide detailed feedback to every applicant but BBC Academy Trainee Scheme Coordinator, Don Kong has provided some advice that could be very useful for your next application. You can find his blog here:  Application Advice. (


And be assured that you are not alone and it is not only entry-level candidates who get no answer. A very experienced friend of mine applied for a job with a major broadcaster, got an interview and was invited back for a second interview. She had to ask twice for a response, waited months to find out what was going on only to be told eventually (after nagging for a reply) that the job was being outsourced and no longer theirs to fill!

Getting no response to an application is understandable. Getting no response once you’ve been to interview, not once but twice, is unforgivable!


Keep trying. Keep applying. Keep learning – and Good Luck!


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