13 reasons why your resume didn't achieve interviews
If you are scratching your head wondering why you didn’t achieve an interview for a position which was a perfect match for you, i.e. you had the experience and skill-set to do the job ‘standing on your head’, these are the primary 13 reasons why you generally don't achieve interviews.
1. RESUME IS NOT ATS COMPLIANT
The No. 1 reason for resumes not achieving interviews is that your document could not 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. MISSING KEYWORDS
No.2 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.
3. NO REFEREES LISTED
No.3 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.
4. MISSING QUALIFICATIONS AND/OR EXPERIENCE
No.4 reason for resumes not achieving interviews is you have not 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 do not have these, you are probably wasting your time applying for the role. Hiring organisations are usually specific about their requirements and will quickly reject applications without these.
5. YOUR PROFILE INTRO IS NOT COMPELLING
No. 5 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.
6. SPELLING & GRAMMAR ERRORS
No.6 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.
7. YOUR LISTED ACHIEVEMENTS ARE NOT QUANTIFIED
No. 7 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’.
8. YOUR LISTED DATES ARE OBSCURE
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 just 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. LINKEDIN PROFILE & RESUME DO NOT MATCH
No. 9 reason for resumes not achieving interviews is different data in your resume to what is listed in your LinkedIn profile. 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'
No. 10 reason is that you appear to be 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 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. UNQUANTIFIED EMPLOYMENT GAPS
No. 11 reason is unquantified ‘gaps’ in employment. You should 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 DID NOT 'SELL' YOUR UNRELATED EXPERIENCE
No. 12 reason is that you have not included unrelated employment. 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
No. 13 reason is hiring organisations may perceive from your resume that you are a recent arrival and/or international student without full working rights. Unfortunately, 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.
To summarise ....
These 13 Reasons give an insight into how difficult it can be to achieve interviews despite your credentials and experience. Considering that hiring organisations often receive hundreds of applicants for advertised positions, the two primary factors in achieving interviews are:
- The document must be Applicant Tracking System (ATS) optimised; and
- The document must ‘sell’ your value proposition to hiring organisations.
It’s important to remember that your resume will determine your financial income, your career advancement, and indeed, your way of life.
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