Originally published on Forbes.com

When job searching, you may think: “I’ve submitted hundreds of resumes for positions listed on job boards and hardly ever receive an acknowledgement, let alone a request for an interview. Were these jobs fake, or was I filtered out? I know I’m qualified but never receive an interview.”

In my experience, whether posted by a recruiter or a company, posted jobs are rarely fake. At one point a posting may have been more active, and it may be winding down by the time you see it and respond to it, but job postings are rarely “fake” or an effort to create an inventory of résumés.

Why do I say that?

First of all, there is no reason for companies to accumulate résumés for the heck of it. After all, most firms have access to one of the largest employment databases in the world — LinkedIn. They don’t need to receive your résumé when they can search for people with specific backgrounds in specific locations when they need them.

So, why are you not getting interviews?

Your résumé does not make a case for the candidacy.Some people see job ads and spam them with résumés that don’t demonstrate they are qualified for the role — and are perplexed when no one contacts them. Whether it is a recruiter or a hiring manager, they don’t have time to contact people on the off chance they might be qualified. After all, if you were qualified, why isn’t the experience in your résumé?

Your résumé is not tailored to the role. This is a variation on the first item. Sending the same generic résumé to every job is like the broken watch that is right twice a day. You won’t get the results you hope for because the résumé does not demonstrate that you have the experience and qualifications to perform the job they need done.

You are too senior for the job and are willing to take a step backward. After working in search for more than forty years, I know that employers don’t believe that the manager or director who is willing to take a step back is actually qualified to do the job. After all, they have been managing people who are doing the work; they have not been actually performing in that role. In addition, they are used to making more money than the job will pay. As a result, most companies do not believe these individuals will commit to the role and will, instead, continue to look for something more appropriate to their level of experience.

You are too junior but really believe you can do the job.I used to receive résumés from people with two years of experience who sincerely believed that they could do the job that a firm determined required someone with fifteen to twenty years of experience. There is a difference between someone with two years of experience and someone with twenty years. At a minimum, they know how to manage and lead from having done it before. You, on the other hand, want to do it and are asking to bypass people within the firm who also aspire to a role like this. Why should they choose you when they have people internally who are like you but who they already know and respect?

Your résumé has the right experience in the wrong place. Sometimes a qualified person submits their résumé through an applicant tracking system and puts the most relevant information on page two. Many of these systems are configured to believe that information on page two is not current.

Your résumé and LinkedIn profile are not congruent.Many companies look at LinkedIn profiles to see whether an applicant’s résumé and LinkedIn profile match up. Yours doesn’t.

There’s something missing from your résumé … and they know it. You submitted your résumé a few years ago for a position, but now a short job or consulting assignment has disappeared from your résumé. Oops!

You don’t make clear that those frequent job changes reflect consulting or temp work. It suggests to people that those four quick changes you made a few years ago were because you are a job hopper. In my experience, if there is one thing screeners worry about, it’s job-hopping. It is the title of the first chapter in the interviewer handbook: “Never Hire a Job Hopper.” Put one aggregated category of “Consultant” on top of those assignments and aggregate the dates next to it. It signals you were a consultant during that time.

Your experience and/or training are with an off-brand.The firm is paying a premium for the best of the best. They don’t want to hire someone who has gone to a school no one has heard of. They don’t want to hire someone from Three-Guys-in-a-Garage Consulting. They want someone from a competitor or a name brand. They want someone with a pedigree to their background and are willing to pay for it.

Your résumé submission arrived late. Your résumé was not among the first they received. It was among the 200threceived. They have already received better-qualified résumés or have grown weary of skimming résumés. The position is currently open, but you are not likely to be interviewed because others arrived first.

If your application is close, the hiring agent may keep a tab open “to think about it” — which they don’t do. Another résumé materializes where someone else put the effort in, and they get the interview. The tab is closed, and you are rejected.

That’s why it’s important to remember that companies have choices, just like you do. Your job is to make the fit obvious for them, as though a six-year-old were reading the résumé.



Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1500 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. JobSearchTV.com was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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