You think you’re doing everything right in your job search to land an interview. Networking is your middle name. Your resume is polished and your cover letter tailored.
You send out hundreds of applications. But then you hear nothing.
There are many reasons why you might not be getting that phone call. I will cover the most common seven reasons you didn’t land an interview below:
You’re putting all your resumes in one basket
Probably the most common mistake I see job seekers make is that they use one job search method. That method usually involves sending dozens of resumes out to dozens of job announcements.
The problem with this tactic is that millions of other job seekers are doing the exact. same. thing.
How can you set yourself apart? It’s simple: build and leverage your network. If you’re not already on LinkedIn, creating an account only takes minutes and best of all, it’s free. From there you can join professional groups, including alumni groups, which is an easy quick way to build your network.
Search for top companies of interest and people you’re connected to who work in those organizations. Try to send a personal note versus just asking to connect. Once connected, send a short, thoughtful note asking for an information interview. Info interviews are casual phone or Zoom calls where you can ask questions like How did you get started in your field? What are some challenges facing XZY field? Do you have an advice for someone trying to break into XYZ field?
The interview should be about your contact and not about you wanting a job. But if there’s an opening at the company and you make a good impression, your new connection might just pass along your resume!
See related: Four Simple Strategies to Land an Unadvertised Job
Your resume isn’t well formatted
A recent study revealed that 75% of resumes are never actually read by a human. If your resume is not optimized for ATS, or applicant tracking systems, you’re going to feel like you’re rowing upstream in your job search.
There are many ways to format your resume so it’s ATS-compatible. Avoid fancy graphics, don’t use headers and footers, and most importantly, print out the job description and highlight all the keywords. Next, make sure you sprinkle the keywords throughout your resume.
It’s also important not to include your entire work history. Only include jobs and skills that relate to the position for which you’re applying. The general rule of thumb is to omit positions that date back past 10 years (unless they relate to your current career goal).
Lastly, your resume should have a clean layout and be clear of any typos or grammatical mistakes.
See related: Is Your Resume ATS-friendly?
If a job announcement says “3-5 years of experience,” should you apply if you’ve only got two? I tell job seekers to apply even if they don’t have the exact required amount of experience listed on the job posting.
On the other hand, if it’s too much of a stretch you might consider waiting to apply before you gain more experience. For example, let’s say job posting lists five years minimum and you’re fresh out of school. In this case I would advise applying for a more entry-level job and re-applying after you’ve gained some work experience.
See related: The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Resume
On the other extreme, maybe you’ve got too much experience (or too much unrelated experience).
You can apply for jobs that you’re overqualified for, but it’s important to really tailor your resume to the position.
For example, say you’ve got over 10 years of experience as a marketing manager. You want to apply for a position as an office assistant. If you advertise your experience and skills as a marketing manager on your resume, a recruiter will not understand the connection between your background and career goals.
Therefore, you need to connect the dots.
Hypothetically, the reason you’re applying for an office assistant position is that it offers you a better work / life balance, including more flexibility and lower stress. It also plays to some of your greatest strengths, including organization and attention to detail.
Instead of a chronological format that emphasizes your work history, you could use a combination resume format. Including a “Skills and Qualifications” section at the top can highlight your work experience and skills that relate to an office assistant position like communication, organization, and attention to detail.
You can include your work history at the bottom of your resume to demonstrate your experience throughout your career. However, the emphasis is placed on your skills and experience related to the office assistant position.
See related The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Cover Letter
An internal candidate was hired
Sometimes it has nothing to do with your application materials or candidacy. Some jobs are earmarked for internal candidates from the get-go.
This goes back to the importance of networking. If you find out an internal candidate was hired, don’t give up!
Use your LinkedIn account to search for contacts in the company. If you don’t have any 1st degree connections, see if you’ve got 2nd or 3rd degree connections. Ask a connection to introduce you or send a personalized connection request. From there you can network and try to get your resume into the hands of a recruiter or hiring manager to land an interview.
See related: Top Ten LinkedIn Mistakes for Moms Returning to Work
You need to clean up your digital dirt
A recent study revealed that roughly 75% of employers google job applicants!
An unprofessional social media presence or no social media presence can be a red flag for a potential employer. It’s crucial that you set privacy settings for all of your social media accounts. Make sure your profile pictures are all professional.
If you feel like venting or bad-mouthing a past employer online, think again. You never know who will see your post or if it will get shared or go viral.
I realize this is a huge cliche, but it really is a small world. If you want to land an interview, don’t burn bridges.
Don’t give up if you don’t land an interview. Instead, use your frustration to propel you to improve your job search efforts. Sometimes it’s not personal, but often times there are specific things you can do to improve your candidacy!