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13 REASONS WHY your resume won't achieve interviews

You’re applying for positions which you are a ‘perfect fit’ for but aren’t achieving interviews – why?

There are a number of reasons why you aren’t achieving interviews and they generally all come down to your Resume.  We’ve listed the 13 primary reasons here which may provide some insights into how to get your resume past an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), and importantly, key considerations for resume content.  At the end of the day, the only thing standing between you and your career advancement is a resume that reflects your professionalism and promotes your value proposition to hiring organisations.

1. Bad choice of template and poor Resume formatting

The No. 1 reason for resumes not achieving interviews is that your document couldn’t get past an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). You’ve either used columns, tables, textboxes and maybe graphical elements associated with flashy templates which an ATS simply cannot parse (interpret) when it converts your document to a .txt file. 

On the other hand, assuming your resume is a one-column ATS compliant document and does get past an ATS/passed on to human hands, poor formatting and an unprofessional look and feel will impact on a hiring organisation’s potential to call you in for interview. Hiring organisations do take note of the aesthetics of submitted documents and will generally not only evaluate your abilities to produce professional reports/documents based on these, but also your overall professionalism.

2. Your Career Profile/Overview /Summary is generalised and doesn’t promote your value proposition to hiring organisations

No. 2 reason for resumes not achieving interviews is that it’s not immediately obvious what skill-set/knowledgebase you can bring to a hiring organisation.  Considering that most organisations don’t read every line of every page of every resume submitted for advertised positions, it’s critical your Profile/Overview/Summary immediately evidences your ‘value proposition’, i.e. what you can bring to the advertised role and the organisation.  This is the most important section of a resume and if it does not generate interest, the rest of the document will probably not be read.

3. Relevant keywords/key-phrases are missing

No. 3 reason for resumes not achieving interviews is missing relevant keywords/key-phrases associated with advertised positions.  ATS algorithms are set up for specific positions and if the system cannot identify these, your resume will never pass on to human hands.  Read every element of the job advertisement and Position Description (if available) and ensure that the keywords related to technical and/or professional skills are incorporated into your document – but make sure they are in fact, factual – all requirements and criteria associated with advertised jobs must be demonstrated and quantified.

4. You didn’t have the required qualifications/experience

No. 4 reason for resumes not achieving interviews is you haven’t got the required qualifications and/or the required experience.  If an advertised position requires a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment or a minimum of five-years’ experience in a similar role and you don’t have these, you are probably wasting your time applying for the role.  Hiring organisations are usually very specific about their requirements and will quickly reject applications without these.

5. Spelling and grammar

No. 5 reason for resumes not achieving interviews is that your document contained typos/spelling errors and/or your language was of a poor standard.  Even one typing error/spello can send out ‘red flags’ to hiring organisations despite your credentials and experience.  What it indicates is that you lack attention to detail, and similarly, poor use of language and grammatical errors will be detrimental to achieving interviews.

6. You listed achievements but they weren’t quantified

No. 6 reason for resumes not achieving interviews is that you haven’t quantified what you claim, i.e. ‘reduced freight costs by 25% in 2017’ does not mean much if you haven’t ‘quantified’ how you did this (actions, tools, methodologies).  Keep in mind also that most hiring organisations will ask your nominated referees to confirm your stated ‘achievements’.

7. You haven’t included Referees

No. 7 reason for resumes not achieving interviews is that your document does not incorporate Referees.  Hiring organisations will not contact every potential candidate for these and they will not call you in for interview until they have validated your resume content, i.e. position titles, tenure of employment, achievements that you have listed.  Stating ‘Referees available upon request’ will very often result in your application being rejected.  Even if you wish to keep your job search activities confidential to your current employer, consider former/previous managers that may have moved on from the company and never include work colleagues or non-related referees.  All referees should ideally have a business email address as well as related contact numbers as just a mobile contact number can send ‘Red Flags’ to hiring organisations. 

8. You’ve used ‘years’ not ‘month/year’ in your Experience

No. 8 reason for resumes not achieving interviews is that you have just listed ‘years’ under each position rather than ‘month/year’.  This sends out ‘Red Flags’ to hiring organisations as say you have listed 2017 – 2018 they don’t know whether you were there for a full two years or started in November 2017 and finished in January 2018 (i.e. three months).  What’s more, they are not going to contact you to quantify this information.

9. Your resume and LinkedIn profile don't match

Hiring organisations will always check out your online presence so keep in mind that if the information on your resume (job titles/organisations/start and end dates) are not the same as what’s listed on your LinkedIn profile, this will send out ‘Red Flags’ to hiring organisations.

10. You look like a ‘Job Hopper’

If you’ve had a number of jobs over a relatively short period of time (say 5 – 6 jobs over 10 years), this also sends out ‘Red Flags’ to hiring organisations.  You really need to quantify these, e.g. contract or fixed term appointment; company ceased trading or laid off staff, etc.  Hiring organisations spend a lot of time and revenue on new employees and therefore want to see a return on their investment in new hires.

11. You have a ‘gap’ in your employment

Always quantify a gap in your employment whether it be to undertake full-time studies, raise a family, care for a family member, or overseas travel.  Again, hiring organisations are not going to contact every applicant for information such as this and unexplained employment gaps may impact on your application being rejected.

12. You’re not selling your unrelated experience

Every job you have held usually has very transferable skills to the roles you are now targeting.  Assume you are a recent Graduate Engineer and worked part-time at McDonalds or drove a taxi – with McDonald’s you would have been exposed to world-class customer service training and teamwork that is essential to all professions and every industry sector.  Similarly, driving a taxi reflects not only customer service but also (generally) high-level skills in communicating with individuals from all demographics.

13. Your residency status is not quantified

It’s a fact of life that many hiring organisations will only hire permanent residents or individuals on valid working visas so be sure to quantify this information on your resume or it may be rejected.

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