jobsAre you one of the potentially several people who is finding it difficult to get interviews? Assuming you have applied diligently and continue to do so for every fitting opportunity, I am listing here some key areas that you may have to fix in order to increase the odds. Most of the issues of callbacks have to do with the resume, and much of it is readily fixable. Some of this is the result of the technology used in the resume search and filtering process. Here are my top 5 reasons in no particular order, why certain aspects of your resume prevent you from getting that phone call.

1) Your resume does not contain the correct keywords necessary for the filtering process.

A lot of hiring today is done by collecting a group of resumes and then filtering through them to whittle out the applicants to a manageable number. If your resume does not contain those magical keywords you are likely to be overlooked. Lets say you are graduated with a marketing degree and want to apply for a job listed as a marketing analyst. If your resume does not include the word analyst or analysis as one of the items that are searched for, you are likely to be overlooked. While many HR personnel appear to be quite sanguine and laid back, their job is quite hectic and most are time constrained. A simple search either by software or even a cursory look over the resume without the words he/she is searching for could easily leave you in the does-not-qualify pile despite your exquisite skills.

2) You use the same exact resume for every job you apply. (Also you possibly have no cover letter)
For every job I have had, I tailored a resume that was for only that company and only for that position. Before someone misinterprets this as a call to lie on your resume, what I am recommending here is that you list every job skill, every methodology, every bit of experience and highlight it for the specific position you are applying for. For e.g. if you apply for a sales job, include information on sales related experience, do not assume that having a marketing degree makes you qualified for sales. Worked retail? yes, that is relevant information. So is that fundraiser you ran for your fraternity or sorority or any nonprofit. In a related note, I cannot stress the importance of a cover letter. The resume needs to be short and yet say everything. I have always used a powerful cover letter indicating exactly how I am a good fit for the job and included information on how I can bring certain strengths to the organization. Always personalize this cover letter to the person or committee who will be receiving it.

3) Your Resume has no connection between your role and business performance.

This is a clear deal breaker for me. If you list a series of bullet points for the roles you played/had in each job with no information on how that improved business performance, I am less likely to look at you seriously. Its great that you took that leadership position when needed, but if you have nothing about the outcome I am no longer interested. Simple ROI information is very important in every resume. Did you work as a social media intern, don’t say I managed twitter accounts, Facebook accounts and developed plans. List what happened as a result of those activities that you were responsible for during your time. List increases in followership and if you have the data, list sales increase percentages. A lot of resume come in with details of leadership like activities, but without outcomes it has the same appeal as attending meetings. Did you work on an excel sheet to to help improve accounting, now that’s appealing. I want to know how much time you saved, and how much that improved the process.

4) Your job title is misleading and does not fit your job description

This is a result of several firms just handing out job titles without regard. A firm that I used to work for, used the title Associate for all its employes at a certain level. This says nothing about my position and makes it difficult for an recruiter to understand what I really did at the organization unless I use valuable real estate on my resume explaining myself. A good example is something I recently saw on listed as a position on a popular job site: Junior Account Champion. The description confirmed my original assessment that this was nothing more than a regular accounts manager position. Typing back to my original point 1 about keywords in your resume, your account champion position is less likely to get picked up unless you explain your job responsibility as an accounts manager under your title. There are also biases against certain tittles, for e.g. consultant may very well be a no-no to your potential employer. Similar issues come into play when you see two generally similar resume but one is listed as senior account manger and the other is a junior account manager despite having the same experience in years.  Salary negotiations take this into account as a proxy for experience so be sure to explain during the interview how these are handled at your organization.  If you do have a rather unique title, take a moment to describe the job in the traditional position label used by the industry.

5) You committed one of the basic mistakes of resume etiquette

I cannot begin to list the atrocious mistakes I have seen on resumes. If you have a typo, i am sorry to say this but I can no longer consider you seriously for this or any other position. If it reads like you spent 5 minutes writing it, I may think this is indicative of your work ethic. Recruiters are sometimes just looking for a reason to put your resume in the do not call list, don’t give them a reason. Spell-check and have someone else proofread the content if you can. Spending all that time on the wonderful paper, cool margins, stylized fonts may get you nothing more than a look, and only go so far. Resumes are not the place to insert puns, emoticons, cartoons (unless the job is for a cartoonist), clipart or quotes from your favorite comedian, president, philosopher or movie. Remember to leave a healthy margin on all sides, your name and phone number/email should be easily accessible and visible. Try not to inundate the reader with endless bullet points and fragmented sentences. Do not every copy paste the job description into your cover letter in totality.

As employment goes today, firms have a slight advantage since there are so many people looking for a job. Your resume is your first contact and first impression with the firm. You already know that first impressions count, so put your best step forward and tailor that resume for the job you want. Good luck!

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