You have decided that it is time to take action about rebooting your career. After weighing up your options you have come to the conclusion that a new job is your best option. So, you prepare your resume and start sending out your resume for suitable job openings in right earnest. The expectation is that recruiters will soon start to call you for an interview. You know that once you get that interview call you have the capability to definitely land the job. But all you hear is crickets! That wasn’t expected and you are now wondering “why can’t I get an interview?!”
As perplexing as it may seem, there are several perfectly plausible reasons for that. Before we get started with the list of possible reasons for not getting that all important interview call, it is important to understand that several of those reasons are within your control and can therefore be fixed. So, look to control the controllable and move on about the rest! With that as the background, let us now dig deeper.
Factors that are within your control:
1. You are adopting the wrong strategy
Let us start with the most obvious, which is that you are taking the completely wrong approach to how you send in your application. Employers may use several ways to source resumes of prospective employees: job sites, head-hunters and so on. Of all the varied options available, the most preferred source for a recruiter is an employee referral. If you are one of those people applying only though job boards and job sites, then it would be obvious why you are not making any headway. It is crucial that you look at building a professional network and then leverage it when it comes time to apply for a new job. This does not mean that you should not apply through job sites or head-hunters. Just like a good investment portfolio needs diversification so does your job search strategy. You need to have a good mix of sources through which you apply for job openings.
2. Applying for jobs that do not match your job background
Have you reached a point of desperation in your job search or are you one of those who believe that if you apply to as many jobs as possible, one of them is bound to click? If you are, then you can be sure that your random approach is a recipe for failure. You are not only going to set yourself up for disappointment but will also get flagged by every recruiter. Take time to understand the job description and apply only if your profile has at least a 75% match. That way you improve your chance of getting picked up substantially.
3. You are not sending out enough application
In the point above we just touched upon randomly applying to too many jobs. This point touches upon the other end of the spectrum. Is it possible that you have become too selective? It will serve you well to remember that job application to interview call conversion is far from 100%. While it would be brilliant to be called for an interview to every company you applied for, that is highly unlikely. So, have options that are judiciously selected. Look for different avenues and apply to a reasonable/optimal number of organisations so that you do end up with a couple of interview calls.
4. Your Resume is not up to speed
Problems with the resume is one of the top reasons why many job seekers don’t get an interview call. Remember that most recruiters will spend no more than 7-8 seconds in scanning your resume before deciding if they want to read further or not. So, if you met the job description and yet your resume got rejected, it is most likely due to one of the following problems with your resume:
- Resume does not have a summary section: This is the section right at the top which the recruiter is most likely to see in those crucial first 7-8 seconds. It is the section from which the recruiter will glean a snapshot of your experience and decide if they want to proceed further. So as the word suggests, the section should be a proper and concise summary which should convince the reader that you match the job description. If this section is absent, poorly written or long winded, you can be certain of missing out on a lot of interviews.
- Resume has only responsibilities but not accomplishments: Of course, prospective employers want to know what responsibilities you carried in your previous jobs. What they also want to know is how well you performed those responsibilities. The reason for this is that past performance is always a good indicator of future performance. So, if your resume has a long list of responsibilities and nothing much about your accomplishments, a recruiter is bound to assume that you were not good at what you did and hence are not speaking about it. You can be certain that most recruiters will not want to waste any further time on your candidature.
- Resume is not customised to match the job requirement: You have spruced up your resume and are all excited about starting your job search. But being in a hurry and shooting your resume off to a ton of places without taking the time to customise is going to be disastrous. Every job has a specific set of requirements which are detailed in the job description. If you have done your initial research well, it is likely that you have the experience required to perform the job well. The only opportunity you have of convincing a prospective employer of this fact is through your resume. Your resume has to articulate very clearly that you are well suited for the job role. So, take the time to read the job description and customise your resume to match the description. Remember that you do not want to come across as a jack of all trades. Your resume has to convince them of the fact that you will be a master at the job opening that they are looking to fill.
- Grammar & spelling mistakes: I have been a recruiter for some period in my career. Believe me when I say that there is nothing more annoying than coming across a resume that has grammar and spelling mistakes. As someone on the other side of the desk, I can tell you that this has always left me feeling as if the person applying for the job couldn’t be bothered enough to proofread his/her resume before sending it off. Naturally such resumes get rejected. All word processing applications have spelling, and grammar checks in them. Use it! Better still get someone else to go through your resume once, before sending it out. If you are not a native English speaker, seek professional help or get a friend to proofread it for you. This is almost a basic courtesy that you are expected to extend to the recipient of your resume.
- Double check that all the files can be opened: This would seem like stating the obvious. But you will be surprised at how many resumes turn up in password protected files or in formats that are not compatible across computers. Just like proofreading your resume make it a point to save you resume as a pdf file which is not password protected before sending it out.
Given all the above aspects, it would be advisable to seek some expert guidance in putting together your resume. Use a professional service which will give you a good template along with proper guidance on how to make your resume.
5. You are Overqualified
If you have 3 years of work experience and the job opening is for a fresher, you might think that you are more than equipped to do the job and hence apply. But organisations will not view you as the best qualified candidate. They will view you as an overqualified one. From the organisations perspective they do not need a sledgehammer for a job that can be done by a hammer. For the organisation a sledgehammer costs more, is harder to maintain and in the long run the sledgehammer which expects to do heavy hitting may get bored with lighter work. So, you see the point that I am trying to make? Be it out of desperation or any other reason, don’t send out your resume for a job for which you are overqualified. Instead of being lapped up for the job as you expected you are more likely to be rejected at the first check point.
6. You are Under qualified
This would be the exact opposite of the point above. Don’t take an approach at the other end of the spectrum and apply for jobs where you do not have at least 75% of the experience required. I have seen thousands of under qualified applications where for example people with 1.5 years of experience will apply for a job that’s needs a minimum experience of 3 years. Every single one of those applications get rejected. There is a reason why minimum years of experience or minimum education requirement is quoted. Unless you are going through a referral who can make a strong case on your behalf, it is a waste of both your and the recruiters time to apply.
7. Job hopping
The perception of how many years in a single job implies stability has changed over the years. 15 years ago, one may have counted 7-8 years in a single job as a marker of stability. That may have reduced to 3-4 years now. But viewing number of years spent in a single job as a marker of stability is still a very important consideration in shortlisting a resume. No one wants to hire a person who has changed jobs every few months. In most industries this is viewed as unstable and recruiters will give such a profile a miss.
8. Unsavoury social media presence
Yes, recruiters do check out the social media profiles of prospective employees. This is becoming a more and more popular practice in recent years. If you overlooked cleaning up your social media handles before you started applying, that may have become one of the blockers in getting an interview call. This is easily remedied though. Go through all your social media handles and make sure that you remove anything that makes you look like a little too much fun!
9. LinkedIn is not impressive
LinkedIn is your space in the social media world where you can shine on the professional front. It is the space where you have an opportunity to showcase aspects of your professional life that cannot be portrayed adequately in your resume. It is almost like the next level of screening after your resume. So, if you are in the job market, then you can be sure that there are a lot of eyes on your LinkedIn profile. If you did not spruce up your LinkedIn profile before you started applying do so now. If you are looking for some guidance on this, our Members Vault has a FREE LinkedIn Guide to help you.
10. Be googleable
In today’s world almost everyone has some presence on the internet. I would be a little suspicious if I could not find any trace of someone on the internet and so would a recruiter. As to what you should do if you are one of those people is obvious. Whatever your reason for not having a presence on the internet, if you are on the lookout for a new job please create some kind of a presence there. A LinkedIn profile, a simple Facebook profile or a Twitter handle, your options are almost limitless
Factors outside your control:
Unfortunately, the nasty head of discrimination based on many different aspects still plagues the job market. As deplorable as it is, this is completely outside your control.
12. Salary fit
All organisations have a salary range within which they operate. There is of course some play here, but not too much. If your current salary and therefore your expected salary fall way outside that stalled.
13. Gap in resume
There could be several justifiable reasons why you have a gap in your resume. If the gap is recent and a lengthy one, then it is highly likely that your resume got rejected because of it. Try to bridge this gap in any reasonable and honest way possible. But there is not much else that you can do about it. You will have to cast the net wider to improve your chances of landing and interview and a job.
14. Out of town/location constraints
If you are applying to a job in a location other than your current location, then the recruiter is likely to be a little sceptical about your willingness to move. The dropout rate for out of station offers is substantially higher than those made to people in the same location. As a result, recruiters may favour candidates in the same location as the job opening over those coming from outside. There is nothing much you can do about this other than presenting your most convincing argument and waiting.
15. Hired an internal candidate
This is the most obvious choice for filling a vacancy in most organisations. Every once in a while, it may turn out that someone was found suitable within the organisation after outside resumes were called for. There is nothing much you can do if this happens.
16. The job opening was put on hold
Many times, organisations make plans to expand and initiate the recruitment process only to realise later that there is a budget constraint, or the expected new business did not materialise. They would then pause the selection process. This is something completely out of your control and you will simply have to factor this into your planning and move on.
17. Too much competition
Highly sought-after organisations and roles obviously have many people applying to them. If the ratio of resumes received to number of job openings is very high, then recruiters may not interview every suitable resume. If you are aiming for such a job opening, the only controllable you have is to put your best foot forward. After that things will be out of your control and you will have to hope that things work out in your favour!
18. Informal referrals gave bad feedback
Every once in a while, it is possible that you burnt bridges with someone in your professional network or someone out there simply does not like you. While this is not a common reason for not landing an interview, it is possible that the recruiter just happened to seek some informal feedback which turned out negative. This is outside your control and it is best to not spend too much time on this and move on to other pastures.
This is an exhaustive list of all the possible reasons to answer “why can’t I get an interview?”. As you can see 10 out of these 19 reasons are within your control. I would strongly encourage you to check if any of those 10 reasons are impacting you and to fix them right away. This will greatly improve your chances of landing an interview call and eventually the job you are aspiring for.
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