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5 Reasons You’re Not Getting Calls for Interviews

7 May, 2019

5 Reasons You’re Not Getting Calls for Interviews

Sooner or later, every resume writer hears this refrain from the job seekers she or he speaks to, “I’ve applied to (insert number) of jobs in the last (insert timeframe), but I’m not getting calls for interviews.” Why is that?

There are several reasons why this happens, but while one likely has nothing to do with you as a job seeker (the employer’s hiring process is slow, stalled, or stopped), the rest involve you. To turn your search around and get more job interviews, you’ll need to address any of these that you haven’t resolved already.

Your resume’s brand is weak.

Job seekers tend to assume that the match between their qualifications and the roles they apply for is obvious, but that’s not at all true. You must draw a complete and detailed picture of your match to the role in question for each job you pursue. And while you can achieve some of that in your cover letter, the most important place to do so is in your resume.

Even though the U.S. economy is quite healthy now and we’re still in the peak hiring season in North America, that doesn’t guarantee you good results in your job hunt.

You still have to sell yourself, first and foremost in your resume. This process begins with a solid career brand that showcases why an employer should hire you and ends with your inclusion of numerous achievements for your most recent organizations.

If you cannot pinpoint your Why-Buy ROI (why an employer should hire you + the return-on-investment your hire delivers) or haven’t yet summarized it in your resume, then your job search is likely to stall indefinitely.

Your resume doesn’t represent you well.

For a resume to represent you well, it needs to present your work history in the right way and contain the appropriate level of age-proofing, if needed. If your resume’s structure is inadequate, if it has too few achievements, or your document isn’t age-proofed, then the interviews you’ll be called for will be few and far between.

A resume isn’t just a recitation of your experience—it’s a marketing document that must tell a story, the right story. What story does yours tell about your career to date? Is your work history perfect? If not, you’ll need to apply one or more fixes to the document to prevent your less-than-perfect work history from damaging your prospects.

Does your resume include the right type and number of achievements with the right level of detail? Achievements add keywords to your document, and they do so in the ways that Applicant Tracking Systems (the databases that analyze incoming resumes) value the most—in complete sentences rather than in a list.

Do you typically possess more or less experience than most jobs you apply for are seeking? If so, your resume needs to be written in a way that prevents your amount of experience from screening you out of consideration. Otherwise, your document will be eliminated from consideration before a human even sees it.

Your resume includes too few keywords.

In case you haven’t heard yet, keywords are critical these days in resumes. Keywords are the industry-specific terms and phrases used by recruiters and hiring managers in job postings and your job is to make sure you incorporate them into yours.

When you submit an application for a job, the Applicant Tracking System, or ATS, will literally count the number of times such words are used in your resume. If yours contains too few of the right words in the right locations, you won’t get to interview for the role, even though your candidacy may be a perfect match for the position.

When a company decides to hire someone, an internal or external recruiter will ask the hiring manager a few questions.

  • Which skills should this person possess? At what level of expertise?
  • What specific words or phrases will help them to determine whether a candidate is a fit for the role?
  • What are the minimum qualifications they would consider?
  • What credentials should the new hire have?
  • How much experience should they possess?

The recruiter then uses the manager’s replies to craft a job description and that description highlights certain concepts and want-to-have items more so than others.

These concepts and want-to-haves might be words or phrases and they may be listed in the job description or in the requirements section of the job posting.

But no matter where or how they show up, they’re used as filters to help the recruiter sift through dozens to hundreds of resumes and determine who should be interviewed. Which means that if you get this keyword stuff wrong, your job search will die a slow death from inactivity.

Your resume wasn’t properly tailored for each job you pursued.

As it probably obvious by now, if your resume isn’t tailored with the right keywords for each job you pursue, you’ll be out of luck interview-wise. By “tailoring” I’m suggesting that you must, absolutely must align the keywords and content of your resume with each individual role you desire.

If Company A says they want someone with relationship management, skills, for example, that is the term you must use in your resume. If Company B says they want someone with stakeholder management skills, that is the term you must use in when applying for a job with them. In other words, since the job posting belongs to the company, their verbiage rules.

You didn’t upload an ASCII text resume, and, as a result, yours couldn’t be analyzed by the Applicant Tracking Systems.

Most job seekers are unaware of how Applicant Tracking Systems work and don’t realize that when they upload their Word, Pages, or PDF resume, there is no guarantee that the ATS used will populate the company’s application perfectly.

If your resume places key details about each job in the wrong locations or in the wrong order in your resume, you must correct this in order to increase the odds of getting an interview.

In addition, if you upload a Word, Pages, or PDF resume, it’s possible your document isn’t “translating” correctly. If that happens, it means your resume will appear as garbage characters on the company’s end. Not good, right? Right.

The bottom line is this: If you’re not getting interviews in your search, something is very wrong with your resume and/or your search strategy. Keep digging until you find out what’s wrong and then correct it. This will help you to turn your search around.

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Cheryl Lynch SimpsonSharon Hamersley Recent comment authors
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Sharon Hamersley
Sharon Hamersley

Hello Cheryl, i’m wondering if #5 is still the case – I’ve seen several articles by well known resume writers stating that current ATS systems are more “robust” and can parse Word and PDF documents. It is very frustrating for the applicant to submit an ASCII text document that undoes all of the formatting – and presentation is a critical component of the resume as well. Your thoughts?

Cheryl Lynch Simpson
Cheryl Lynch Simpson

It depends on the company and the ATS, Sharon. Some do parse better than others, however, even if an ATS can parse your Word document’s formatting, that doesn’t guarantee that your resume’s data will be placed into the correct fields in the database. Hence, not only does formatting potentially cause problems, but so does where you place key details in your resume. I agree with you that ASCII text resumes are ugly, but keep in mind that this version of your resume is predominantly for the ATS. You can and should try to connect with the hiring manager on LinkedIn… Read more »

Sharon Hamersley
Sharon Hamersley

Thanks for the clarification Cheryl! I advise clients to connect with the manager before submitting to the ATS if at all possible. That way even if the ATS screens them out they are in the system.