7 Reasons Your Resume May be Stopping You from Getting Interviewed for the Jobs You Want
If you’re looking for a job and regularly completing applications but not getting interviews, it may be that your resume is the problem. According to the Wall Street journal, nearly 90% of fortune 500 companies use resume screening software that has a 75% reject rate. In the event that your resume makes into the hands of a live person, they will spend less than 30 seconds reviewing it to decide whether you make it into the stack for further review or the pile of rejections.
Although it may seem like the odds are stacked against you, there are things within your control that that you can do to help level the playing field and get interviewed. The list below should help you to work through the problems that most often cause candidates to get rejected. Once your resume is refined, getting the job is a matter of consistently completing applications, networking and following up with firms that could use your skills and experience.
Even before companies started to use applicant screening software, incorrect resume formats caused human screeners to reject them too. You need to use a format that will enable your resume to make it through both, the computer screening software as well as the live human resources and department managers who will be looking at it as well.
The first thing to consider is font. Computer screening software has problems reading serif fonts like times New Roman and Cambria. If the computer can’t read the font, it’s no better than not submitting your resume at all because it just gets rejected. Use fonts that are sans serif, such as Calibri, Tahoma or Veranda and that will get you through the first screening hurdle.
2. Not Including a Complete Address
Here’s one where a seemingly insignificant thing like not including an address or just listing the city and state you live in can cause the screening software to reject your resume. You might think, what’s the difference to the company where I live? Or you might think, they don’t need to know my exact address if I give them the correct city and state. In both cases, those thoughts and failing to list your complete address can get your resume to get screened out.
Many companies include certain locations in the keywords programmed into the software because they want people who are familiar with certain local nuances and/or who live close to an office location or in a certain geographic region. Even for jobs where the employees have the ability to work remotely, employers may have internal requirements that the candidate selected lives within a certain distance of a major airport or major client. Including a complete address also gives a prospective employer information about you and you based on the demographics of the city you live in.
The bottom line is that in order to get your resume into the hands of a person who can actually hire you, whenever possible, you should use a complete address in place of a post office box, just a city and state or none at all.
3. Failure to incorporate keywords and acronyms
The next thing to consider is the use of keywords and acronyms. When the applicant screening software is working its way through hundreds or thousands of resumes, one of the main things it’s looking for is keywords that match the description of the job in question as well as experience and number of years required. If you don’t know what keywords and acronyms are important for the job that you’re applying for, you should take the time to research them and find out what is relevant. Doing some work on the front end before writing the resume can make all the difference between getting selected or rejected.
Employers are interested in hiring candidates who are interested in and have knowledge of the industry that their businesses are in. Because of that, they want to see how much a candidate knows about the industry and who they believe is motivated to do the job well not just on the day after they get hired, but day-in and day-out. The company is making an investment in an employee in terms of time, training and resolving any fallout from mistakes made from someone new to the job. A big part of the job for a hiring manager, is to minimize risk to the company. When it comes to spending company resources on a new hire, a manager is looking to reduce the risk by selecting a candidate who is familiar with the industry and has a genuine interest in the job.
Typos were always a sure way to demonstrate a lack of both attention to detail and professionalism on a resume or cover letter. Even though there is more acceptance of slang and abbreviations in the current culture, misspellings, incorrect grammar or poor word choices are still the quickest route to getting rejected. If you’re going to go to the trouble of writing a resume or cover letter, spend the extra time it takes to thoroughly proofread it and make sure that both spelling and word usage are correct i.e. there versus their.
5. Use of an unprofessional email address
Believe it or not, the email address you use, tells those who see it things about you. Both the name and the platform you use such as AOL, Yahoo or Gmail convey things such as you age, education and level of sophistication. A prospective employer seeing will also form impressions about you based on your choice of email address. It’s just hard wired into human nature every little detail we lean about someone gets filed away in the back of our mind for use later as we try to develop an overall impression of the person we are evaluating.
The thing to remember here is to choose appropriately. You may have a great sense of humor and a wide circle of friends who all think that your email address is great, but when money gets involved, things change. A prospective employer is looking at you like any other resource they might purchase. They want to know that you will reliably solve the problem they are hiring you to solve for them, nothing more and nothing less. Consider the difference between BigChuckcollins@yahoo.com and Charlescollins@gmail.com. The first one says you’re ready to party while the second says you’re ready to work. So, if you have a fun social email address, keep it but create something more professional for your job search.
6. Inclusion of outdated or unrelated work experience
If you’re searching for a job as a medical device sales representative but have had previous jobs in landscaping or maintenance, you may not want to include that information on you resume as it’s not relevant to the job you are seeking. A prospective employer wants to see that you have had previous work experience that demonstrates that you have the skills necessary to do the job you are applying for.
If you took time off work to have kids or live in another country, you may have work experience that dates back more than 20 years. If you have had consistent career progression and just took some time out, that is one thing. However, if you have had multiple job type or business changes, a lot of your previous experience may no longer be relevant. You may have to consider a functional as opposed to chronological resume. Your education, skills and relevant experience may need to be presented in a format that can convey how you are qualified for the job you are seeking.
7. Use of creative wording and fluff in place of facts
If your experience for the job you are applying for is limited or you have long gaps in your employment history, it can be difficult to write a resume that is not repetitive or filled with fluff as opposed to substance. Even if you resume makes it past the screening software to a hiring manager, he or she will quickly be able to determine that there is a lack of substance which will result in your resume being screened out of candidates to be interviewed.
If you are short on substantive work experience, you will need to use other methods to demonstrate that your qualifications to a prospective employer. Options like changing the type of resume, incorporating skills acquired outside of work environments and reworking the format of a resume can all help to present you in the best light possible. Don’t be tempted to use fluff to replace a lack of substance as it will not get you the result you want. If you are having trouble developing a resume based on substance, looking at hiring a professional will be money well spent.