I hear it all the time. “I applied to # jobs, but no one will call me for an interview.” Here are the top reasons why people don’t get that call.
- Didn’t apply for enough jobs. According to the newest JobVite Recruiting Funnel benchmarking report, an analysis of 69 million job applications, there are about 59 applications for each job, of which 12% get interviews (i.e. you should be applying to about 8.4 jobs in order to get one interview); of those interviewed, 17% get offers (you should get at least one job offer after 6 job interviews). But if your application isn’t high quality, you could apply for hundreds of jobs and get no interviews.
- Any errors in the resume or cover letter. If you have typos or grammar errors in the resume or cover letter, it’s likely you will be immediately disqualified.
- Lack of the correct keywords in the resume. Since most organizations use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), it’s important to make sure you use the right words in your resume (not just your cover letter, but your resume, should be tailored to the job description). Many recruiters will scan for keywords before reading the resume and lack of keywords can mean a qualified applicant gets skipped over.
- Resume isn’t formatted correctly to be “scannable” by an Applicant Tracking System. Speaking of the ATS, some resumes are over-formatted or designed in a way that is unreadable by an ATS. Copy and paste your resume into a plain text document. Is it garbled? If so, so are your job search chances.
- Applied for the wrong jobs (jobs you are not qualified for, or are very overqualified for). When an employer says that fluency in French is required for the job, they mean it. If they say you need 10 years’ experience and you have two, you are not qualified for the job. If you have worked your whole career in sales and want to apply for a Director of HR job, you need to show how you have those particular skills–yes, HR is a profession which has actual skills and requirements, and if you don’t have them, you aren’t qualified.
- Used a generic cover letter, or no cover letter. While not every employer cares about cover letters, enough of them do that it’s crucial to use one, and to tailor it to the job. A generic letter which doesn’t address why you want the job is about equivalent to no letter at all. A letter which lists the wrong company name or is full of grammar mistakes will harm your chances entirely.
- Wrong contact information listed in your resume. This actually happens. Your email’s bouncing, your voicemail’s full or not set up yet. A recruiter wants to interview you. Guess what? If they can’t reach you, they are moving on to someone they can easily contact.
- Didn’t “sell” yourself. Your resume lists the job functions you had, but leaves out any achievements, accomplishments, results, or numbers. So what if you organized the files and records? Did you do it accurately, or more efficiently? Did you save money? Did you make the program more impactful? How do we measure that? If you just say what you did, and not what result it had, the recruiter is going to yawn and move on to someone who makes a more powerful case.
- Did not do enough networking/did not leverage your network. This is the single biggest reason for most people. A referral inside the organization, according to JobVite’s survey, increases your odds of being called for an interview by 500%, and your chance of being hired by 1500%. Every single time you apply, use your network; ask if you can use your contact’s name in your cover letter. In addition to other forms of follow-up, and using a tailored and powerful application, this is the most effective way to increase your chance of getting the interview.