How To Respond to "We'll Keep Your Resume on File"

Updated January 30, 2023

A person surrounded by research or study materials sits on their couch at home while studying the screen of their laptop.

When applying for jobs, it's important to understand common phrases recruiters and hiring managers say throughout the application process. For example, they may tell you they're going to keep your resume on file after they inform you they won't be offering you a job. Learning about this phrase and why you may hear it can help you come up with an appropriate response.

In this article, we discuss what it means when hiring managers and recruiters say this, provide some possible interpretations of the phrase, outline how to respond to "We'll keep your resume on file" and list some other common phrases you may hear during the application process.

Related: Hiring Manager vs. Recruiter: What's the Difference?

What does it mean when a recruiter or hiring manager says "We'll keep your resume on file"?

A recruiter or hiring manager may tell you they're keeping your resume on file as part of a job rejection conversation. Companies have a legal requirement to keep accurate files of all of their recruiting information, including the resumes they receive. Telling you they're keeping your resume on file alerts you that they've satisfied their minimum legal requirements.

Record-keeping methods may vary for each organization. While some may keep physical records, most keep electronic copies of their records. Some may use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to store resumes. This allows them to search their resume database easily for certain people, skills or qualifications if they're hiring for other positions.

Related: What Are Applicant Tracking Systems? (With Definitions and Tips)

Ways to interpret "We'll keep your resume on file"

Here are some ways to interpret a recruiter or hiring manager telling you they'll keep your resume on file:

The hiring manager likes you

Hiring managers may tell you they're going to keep your resume on file if they liked you and your qualifications but think you'd be a better fit for a different position or plan to offer someone else the position who is slightly more qualified. This type of response usually occurs when you've had at least one interview with the hiring manager and advanced through several stages of the application process. Many hiring managers also indicate a desire to keep in touch with you through email or a professional networking website about future positions.

The role wasn't actually open

Companies may list job postings to collect resumes even though they might already have an internal candidate in mind. This response may not guarantee the hiring manager reviewed your resume or cover letter, but it does create an initial line of communication between you and the organization. This may be beneficial if you apply for another position with the organization in the future.

The hiring manager wants to end contact

This interpretation typically only applies if you've contacted the hiring manager frequently to ask about the status of your application. While most hiring managers don't mind occasional check-ins about your application status, it's important to avoid contacting them too much.

A good indicator of whether this interpretation applies to you is if the body of the email includes anything other than the message about keeping your resume on file. For example, a hiring manager likely doesn't mean this if they greet you in the email, offer to stay in touch or encourage you to apply for future positions.

You're the next option

A hiring manager may tell you they're keeping your resume on file if they nearly chose you. This interpretation suggests the hiring manager considers you a good candidate for the role, but someone else applied who is slightly more qualified. They may provide this response so they can offer you the job if the first person declines or to invite you to apply again if a similar position becomes available in the future.

Related: FAQ: What Does It Mean if a Hiring Manager Says "We Will Be in Touch"?

The hiring manager is being polite

Hiring managers understand receiving notice of rejection may feel upsetting. This phrase is a polite way for them to share the news that they won't be offering you the position. However, this response may indicate that they thought you are a good fit for the company, just not for this particular position.

How to respond to "We'll keep your resume on file"

Follow these steps to learn how to respond to this phrase:

1. Thank the hiring manager

Thank the hiring manager for their response and time. Share your appreciation that they considered you for the opportunity. Think about highlighting what you learned during the interview experience or reiterating your interest in the company.

2. Consider connecting with them

If you'd like to apply for other positions in the future with the organization, consider asking the hiring manager if you can stay in contact with them. For example, you may ask them if you can reach out to them about other opportunities with the organization. Another option is asking them if you'd be able to connect with them on a professional networking website.

Related: Top 36 Networking Interview Questions and Answers

3. Monitor the company's updates

Consider following the company on social media or checking their website for updates. Some companies post when they hire new employees, and evaluating their qualifications may help you better assess reasons why you might not have received the job offer. This is also an effective way to stay up to date with new job opportunities or milestones the organization achieves.

4. Check in with the hiring manager

Based on your conversation with the hiring manager, contact them occasionally. Be mindful of how often you contact them so you don't message them too often and create a negative impression. Some examples of when you may consider contacting them would be if you see the organization list a job that you're interested in or if you want to congratulate them on something exciting the company accomplished.

5. Apply for other jobs

If you're interested in working with the company, submit new applications for the jobs that they list. Be sure to update your resume each time to customize it to best align with the requirements of the job you're seeking.

After you apply, consider messaging the hiring manager about your interest and informing them that you submitted an application and that you hope you're able to meet with them about it. This may help remind them of who you are and how you progressed the last time you pursued a position with their organization.

Other common job recruitment phases and how to interpret them

Here are some examples of other common job recruitment phases and ways to interpret what they mean:

"We'll get back to you either way"

A hiring manager may tell you this throughout the application process, typically after an interview. While this suggests they'll contact you even if they decide not to offer you the job, many hiring managers fail to contact candidates unless they're going to offer them a job. To prevent waiting for a response, maintain a proactive approach. Inform the recruiter that you'll follow up with them the following week to check in about your progress.

"Our employees love our company culture"

A hiring manager may say employees love the company's culture to give you a positive impression of the company. They know many candidates hope to find somewhere exciting to work, so they may use company culture as a selling point.

However, it's important to research the company and read reviews from employees online. This may help you better understand what the company culture is really like, as it provides an honest account from people who want to help others, not someone hoping to hire you.

Read more: Guide to Company Culture

"You're perfect for the job, but we need to interview other candidates"

A hiring manager may tell you this because they like you as a candidate, but they're not sure whether they want to hire you. They may say this when there is a candidate when they want to offer the job to first, keeping you as their next option.

A hiring manager knows you're applying for jobs, but they want to keep you from taking another opportunity while they make a decision. Consider creating a hiring timeline, and let the hiring manager know that you're interested but need to find a job by a certain date.

Explore more articles

  • When Should You Apply for a Summer Internship? (With 6 Tips)
  • 12 Advantages of Full-Time Employment
  • Tax Accountant vs. Auditor: What You Need To Know
  • FAQ: Weighing the Differences Between Paramedic vs. Nurse
  • 32 Jobs With 6-Figure Salaries (With Job Duties)
  • 10 of the Highest-Paying Aviation Jobs (With Salaries)
  • Computer Science vs. Information Technology (Plus Jobs)
  • 13 Jobs for Music Business Degrees
  • 10 Careers in Agriculture Engineering (Plus Salaries)
  • How To Become a Voice Actor in 6 Steps (With Skills)
  • Regional Manager vs. District Manager: What You Need To Know
  • Front Office vs. Middle Office vs. Back Office in Investment Banking: What's the Difference?