What Does “Not Retained” Job Application Status Mean?

Updated on 03/22/2024


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  1. When your job application receives a "Not Retained" status, it signifies that you haven't progressed further in the hiring process.
  2. Undercover Recruiter says 1 out of 5 recruiters reject candidates within a minute without reading their resume.
  3. Motley Fool's studies indicate that 68% of people utilizing professional resume writing services secure a job within 90 days.
  4. HRDive reports that more than 85% of recruiters believe job candidates often exaggerate their skills on resumes.

Have you ever wondered what it means when your job application status reads "Not Retained"? It's a common phrase that can leave job seekers puzzled and uncertain about their prospects. Moreover, you might be thinking about what factors contribute to a Not Retained job applicant.

So, in this guide, we’ll discuss what a “Not Retained” job status is and the reasons behind this status. Also, we’ll explore strategies for improving your chances in future job applications.

What Does 'Not Retained' Job Application Status Shows?

When your job application says 'Not Retain,' you haven't moved forward in the hiring process. The employer might have found that you didn't match the job requirements. Also, they might have opted for another candidate they feel is a better fit.

According to Undercover Recruiter, 1 out of 5 recruiters say Not Retained to a candidate in less than a minute without reading their resume.

While getting a job status 'Not Retained' can be disheartening, it's a chance for personal growth and improvement. Rather than taking it as a rejection, see it as constructive feedback.

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5 Reasons for Not “Retained” Job Status

Discovering that a recruiter won't consider your application can be tough, but it's a wake-up call. Your application got deleted from their system, indicating something went wrong. Here are common reasons for applications not being retained:

  1. ATS Algorithm Test Failure: According to Forbes, many employers, including big companies like the Fortune 500, use ATS to handle job applications. ATS algorithm is used to match your application with the job description. If there's a mismatch, you're automatically rejected.
  2. Unprofessional Application: A poorly presented or error-filled application is a deal-breaker. HR sifts through numerous applications, and sloppy cover letters or resumes give them a reason to narrow down candidates.

According to Motley Fool studies, 68% of people who use a professional resume writing service land a job within 90 days of sending out their resume.

  1. Lack of Qualifications or Experience: If the recruiter believes you don't have the necessary qualifications or experience, your application may not be retained.
  2. Inappropriate Behavior: Acting inappropriately during the application process, like being rude in emails, not following instructions, or submitting your CV late, can lead to rejection.
  3. Problematic Social Media: Employers often check social media before hiring. An unprofessional online presence, such as complaining about past jobs on LinkedIn, can result in rejection.

Remember, rejection is often not personal. Companies use these filters to streamline the candidate pool and simplify their hiring process.

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How to Recover When Your Application Isn't Retained?

It's tough when your job application isn't chosen, but remember, it's not the end of the world. Here's what you can do to bounce back:

  1.  Take a Break

It's totally okay to feel upset. Take a break to give yourself some time to calm down and clear your mind. Try not to rush into decisions when you're feeling emotional.

  1.  Expand Your Network

Additionally, making more work connections can help you find new job opportunities. Going to networking events, joining online forums, and using social media like LinkedIn can help you meet potential employers or industry professionals. Building and maintaining these relationships can boost your chances of finding unadvertised jobs. This way, you’ll also know insider information about the job market.

Note: Post jobs for free on Yulys and reach a vast pool of talented candidates in your area.

  1.  Ask for Feedback

After you've cooled off, reach out to the recruiter or employer for feedback. This shows that you're mature and open to learning. If the feedback seems a bit vague, don't be afraid to ask for more details. You put in the effort, and it's only fair to get insights that can help you improve.

Feedback can be useful for improving your chances. You should update your resume, practice your interview skills, or take extra certifications or courses to strengthen your skills.

  1.  Be Resilient

Even successful people face setbacks and rejections. Stay resilient for long-term success. Treat this setback as an opportunity to learn and grow. Stay positive and be ready for the next chance that comes your way.

  1.  Refine Your Job Search

Take a moment to analyze the feedback and reflect on whether the job fits you. If you realize it wasn't, chances are the employer noticed too. Use this insight to refine your job search for future applications. Learn from the experience and adjust your approach to find the best match for your skills and goals.

Being open to different roles and industries will help you discover even better opportunities than you first thought. A survey by Novoresume discovered that most job-seekers, about 37.5%, found a job within two months of looking.

Therefore, by regularly applying to different positions and keeping track of your progress, you can get a job.

  1.  Handling Communication with Recruiters

When you find out your job application status is "not retained," it's natural to have questions about how to communicate with recruiters. Here's a simple guide:


  • Keep Communication Open: Stay open for potential future opportunities.
  • Politeness Matters: Always be polite and respectful in your interactions.
  • Highlight Skills: Showcase your relevant skills and experience.
  • Stay Neutral and Confident: Avoid being defensive or negative.
  • Use Clear Formatting: Use bullet points or tables for clear communication.

Even if you see a "not retained" job application status, recruiters might still contact you for future opportunities. They are responsible for keeping candidates informed about potential changes in the decision-making process. Job seekers should approach these conversations politely and respectfully, as recruiters might reconsider their application.

If a recruiter contacts you, maintain confidence and knowledge. According to HRDive, more than 85% of recruiters think that job candidates often exaggerate their skills on the resumes they submit. So, provide clear answers, highlight relevant skills and experience, and avoid being defensive. This positive approach can leave a lasting impression and impact future opportunities.

Use well-structured communication, like tables and bullet points, when discussing achievements or expressing continued interest. This format ensures clarity for you and the recruiter, making important information understandable.

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Receiving a "Not Retained" job application status can be disheartening, but viewing it as an opportunity for growth rather than a setback is essential. Understanding the reasons behind this status, such as swift rejections by recruiters or mismatches with ATS algorithms, can provide valuable insights for future applications. By making a professional resume, seeking feedback, and refining job search strategies, you can enhance your chances of success. Remember, setbacks are often stepping stones toward success, and with adaptability,  you can ultimately find the right opportunity.

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Aneeb Ahmad

Update at 03/22/2024

Aneeb is a full-stack SEO & Content Marketer. He drives our inbound marketing efforts on all touchpoints & writes just about everything related to career guidance, interviews, and professional growth. He loves talking about football when he’s not wordsmithing. Reach out to him at aneebahmad1@gmail.com

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