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Are you looking for work at the moment? It could be your first job or the next job, but if you are looking for work, and aren’t getting any interviews, despite sending out lots of copies of your résumé, then I’m afraid, there is probably something wrong with your approach. The reality is that for most jobs, a potential employer will get over 100 applications for that one job. To shortlist people for interview then means that they have to reduce that list by at least 90%, and this is where some simple mistakes made by the applicants make this process so much easier for recruiters. Here are 6 mistakes that you may be making that are that stopping you being shortlisted for interview:

1. Not proofreading your résumé

The first mistake you may have made is not proof reading your résumé before you sent it out. It may be a typo, or a word that has not been picked up by spell-check, but whatever the reason, if there is a spelling mistake in your résumé, then it will be relegated to the “reject” pile. Always get someone else to proof reader your résumé for you, read it out loud or read it from the bottom up, line by line.

2. You keep sending out the same résumé

They say insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, and yet that is exactly what you’re doing when you send out the same résumé for every job that you apply for. Each employer is looking for someone who can solve a specific problem that they have. If you don’t tailor your résumé for each job that you apply for, then you can’t demonstrate that you understand their problem and that you can help them. Does this take longer? Yes of course. But you have more chance of getting shortlisted for a job if you do.

3. You didn’t read the job description

The person looking to recruit for the job took the time to write the job description, so the least they expect is that you take the time to read it. It will tell you:

  • what key qualifications are required
  • what experience in a similar role they are looking for
  • what specific skills are expected

If you are not able to meet these basic requirements, then you’ll have to explain why you think you could do the job without them. It may be that you have worked at that level in the past and have a track record to demonstrate this, for example you may not have a degree in Marketing, but have a blog that has built up a large following. Remember when someone on Twitter ran a successful campaign against the X Factor winner getting the Christmas number one? Simon Cowell offered them a job on that basis.

4. You didn’t include the right keywords.

Many organisations are turning to computers to analyse job descriptions, and one thing that they do is filter out those people that include specific words in their application. Which words are they looking for? Well, take a look at the job description again. They’ll use the same language. Take the example of a job that specifically states that an MBA is required. Did the company ask for an MBA, M.B.A. or did they ask for a Master of Business Administration? There is no difference in the qualification, unless that is, you’re a computer. Cover all bases so for example in the first line of your résumé state your name as John Smith, MBA, then in the Education section, state the qualification in full, with the initials afterwards in brackets i.e. Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.). That way you’ll get past the computer and get seen by a person.

5. You didn’t tell them what they needed to know

You’ve read the job description, and know that you meet those basic requirements, but if your résumé doesn’t mirror these requirements in the top half of the first page, then you’re making it difficult for the person reading your résumé to know that you fulfill their criteria and quite frankly they don’t have the time to analyse each and every job application. Employers need to know that you have the knowledge, experience and skills to do the job. After you have written you name and contact details, add a career summary that tells them exactly that. Once you have them hooked, they’ll read on.

6. Your résumé is poorly designed

You’ve got the relevant information in your résumé, and have proof read it, but if it’s poorly laid out, then some recruiters just won’t read further that the first half of the first page. If you don’t get the importance of a clean résumé design, then take a look at this link. It shows a heat map of recruiters’ eye movements when they read a résumé. The take-away from that post was that “you should make it easier for recruiters to find pertinent information by creating a resume with a clear visual hierarchy”. My Pinterest board has lots of examples if you need inspiration.

So next time you’re applying for a job:

  1. Take time to read and analyse the job description. Be clear about the skills, experience and qualifications required.
  2. Use a good clear design
  3. Tell people what they need to know immediately i.e. you have the skills, experience and knowledge for the job. Mirror the language used in the job description by using the keywords that they used.
  4. Highlight the relevant skills and experience in each job
  5. Proofread your document before your send it off

I hope that you found this post useful and if you would like help with your résumé, then connect with me or drop me a line.

Good luck

Karen