Why no one is calling you back. Hint: It’s probably your own fault.

frustrated job seeker chomping on his phone

You’re sending out resumes like mad and no one’s called you back for an interview. Truth is, it’s probably your own fault. Here we tackle the top problems you’re likely to make when sending out those Shiny New Resumes.

Your resume isn’t tailored to the position. No one is looking for a jack-of-all-trades. Companies want to fill a specific position. Show them why you’re a better fit – for that position alone – than anyone else. If you don’t use terminology that matches the job posting exactly, you’re making the reader work too hard. They like the words they used in the job posting; be nice and use their words in your resume and cover letter.

Your cover letter is impersonal or you didn’t bother to send one. Show some enthusiasm. Don’t send it as an attachment. Don’t make an excuse about why it’s not attached and please, proofread it. Twice. If you’re sending the same email to apply to multiple jobs, you can bet it doesn’t stand out from the others received and will be ignored. Too many cover letters read like this (I’ll spare you the capitalization errors):

To Whom It May Concern:
Please find my resume attached. I look forward to hearing from you.

John Jerk

If you don’t have enough time to address the recipient in a personal cover letter, they certainly won’t find time to open your resume, much less read it. It’s stunning how many people send out attachments with no cover letter and expect to get a call back.

Photo attachment. Don’t. Ever. Immediate deletion for SO MANY reasons. Unless the employer asked for a photograph (unlikely unless you’re an actor or model), they don’t want it. Many employers are required to toss these out for fear of discrimination.

You forwarded your response to a different job post. You know that shows up super obvious in any email client, don’t you? Again, if you don’t have time for me I don’t have time for you. Immediate deletion.

Your cover letter is too much about you. The manager doesn’t care about the personal circumstances leading to your job search. I’ve seen way too many cover letters with “I’m relocating…” or “I just moved…” or “I’m currently unemployed because…” or “I need employment ASAP…” It’s not helping your case. No one wants to hire someone who’s desperate. Your cover letter needs to be about what you can do for the company.

Your cover letter is too long. Keep it short and directly relevant. I once received an application for an office assistant that led with their master’s degree in Oriental Medicine. If you didn’t take the time to figure out that’s not important to me, I don’t have time to bother reading your resume.

You ask the employer to ignore information or otherwise do something for you. Totally unacceptable, but I’ve seen all of these in cover letters. “Use this phone number or email address instead.” “My current job is not on my resume.” “Call me only during these hours/days.” “Reply to me so I can send something else to you.” “Call me about the position before I send my resume.” Don’t send more than one email and expect someone to bother assembling your cover letter and resume for you.

Your cover letter is all about your degree. If the position requires a degree, every single applicant has one and the details are available on your resume. Unless it’s your top qualification (probably not), your degree doesn’t belong in your cover letter at all.

You sent the email from HotDrunkGirl77@whatever.com. JustYourName@ is the only appropriate email for a job search.

You sent the reply from another company’s email address. It shows a reckless disregard for that company’s assets and time. If you take advantage of their resources you’ll take advantage in your next position. It should go without saying that if there is anything like this at the end of your email, it’s getting deleted:

Notice: This email message, including any attachments, contains information belonging to XXX, Inc. and its business units…

Cutesy signature. It shows a lack of professionalism. In a competitive job market, any little thing is a reason not to open your resume. Your pink cursive signature is fine for friends, but not for a job search email. No university logos, photos or quotes in your signature either – all are unnecessary risks.

You’re not qualified. If you don’t meet 100% of the requirements, you’ll probably be ignored by logic and you might be ignored by law. Don’t stretch your experience and apply to things you’re not qualified for – it’s a waste of your time and theirs.

It’s always better to fly direct. Search firms aren’t always aligned in your best interest. HR might not understand your value. If you know the company is hiring, apply directly. Better yet, leverage your network and apply via someone you know who works there. The best way to get a great job? Come recommended.

You’re not paying attention. Too many job seekers get busy with nonsense and miss the phone call or email that says “Hey, we want to talk to you!” Time is not on your side. They’re going to move on to the next candidate if they don’t hear from you quickly.

Too many replies, not enough time. If 300 people respond in 3 days, they might not find time to respond to yours. Get a Shiny New Resume and stand out from the masses. Network into a company to circumvent the noise.

Maybe they messed up. The job was filled before it was posted, or close to it. Canceled project, unforeseen circumstances, really it could be anything. It probably wasn’t a scam; so keep sending resumes if the company keeps showing interest in receiving applicants.

Improve your chances of getting called back!

1. Stop blaming the economy (and everything else). There are a lot of jobs out there; trouble is the people doing the hiring only want the very best. They want to hire someone smart, enthusiastic and ready to work hard, and it’s harder to find than it sounds.

2. Don’t wait for an opening. Show some energy toward your industry. Demonstrate how you can help a company grow. Tell them about the mistakes they’re making and the things they need to fix. Solve a problem. Devote some time to learning about the business operation and how to help them make money.

3. Know what you want. This might be the hardest of the bunch, but an unfocused job search will almost always be unsuccessful. Even if you do find something, chances are it’s not the kind of job that will make you happy. Do some soul searching and know what you want before you waste someone else’s time trying to figure it out.

Shiny New Resume can get you started with a superstar resume and cover letter. We’ll help you dig deep to empower your resume with your most powerful, relevant accomplishments. Click here to start working with a professional resume writer online today. We’ll make you shine!

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