How Do I Improve My Chances of Being Contacted?

Updated: September 9, 2020

It’s one of the most frustrating parts of the internship-application process: You spend hours tailoring your resume and cover letter, send everything off with a great sigh of relief, and … you never hear back. You don’t even get an acknowledgment that anyone received your application.

Unfortunately, you’re not alone. Companies often receive hundreds of applications for one internship position, which makes it impossible to send updates or rejection notices to every applicant. But if you really want to hear back, there are ways to increase your chances. Here are some tips on how to get a response when you want one:

  • Cover more ground. Rather than just submitting your application to HR, send it to the head of the department that’s seeking an intern as well. It’s always easier for an application to travel down the employment chain than up, so starting at the top can improve your odds of being seen.
  • Be proactive. In your cover letter, take the initiative by stating that you’ll call the hiring manager to find out next steps and answer any questions in X days. By following up rather than waiting around, you demonstrate your motivation and enthusiasm for the role. If you use this tactic, don’t come across as overly pushy. Keep your tone upbeat and polite, and give them at least a few days before you call. Then, be sure to reach out on the appointed day.
  • Focus on keywords. When you tailor your resume, ensure that it contains key words that relate to the internship description. Before a live person ever sees your resume, it often has to get past an applicant tracking system (ATS). To get your resume past the ATS and ensure your application makes it to the next round, use a clear font (size 10–12), large margins, and left justification. And above all else, focus on integrating key skills from the internship description.
  • Just ask. It never hurts to ask, so if you just can’t wait any longer, pick up the phone or write an email. You can call or email the HR department or the department head. Politely ask if your application was received and always restate your interest in the position. It’s fine to do this once—and only once.
  • Keep your options open. If you do all of the above and never hear back, it may not be the best environment in which to work anyway. To up your odds of success, apply for multiple internships. Sooner or later, someone will be in touch!