It can be frustrating. You’ve found an ad for a job that you think you’d be great at, write up a friendly cover letter to introduce yourself, and send it in with a copy of your most up-to-date resume, only to hear… nothing.
So, what went wrong? Why didn’t you at least get an interview, or hear back from the employer at all?
To begin with, it may not be anything you have done wrong. Employers receive many more applications than they can possibly meet with, so they have screening processes in place to narrow down the incoming resumes to just the most relevant candidates they want to interview. If you don’t make the cut, you may not get a response.
However, in many cases, there are seemingly small resume mistakes candidates make that can greatly impact their response rate. Here are a few of the most common (and how to fix them).
Missing keywords. One of the screening processes I mentioned could be software that scans resumes for relevant keywords. If you don’t have the sought-after terms in your resume, it could be rejected even before a human employee has the chance to read it.
The fix: Read the job posting you’re applying for carefully. Do you have the skills, experience, and qualifications the employer is seeking? Make sure that they are included in your resume, and whenever possible mirror the language and wording used in the job description. If those are the words they associate with those credentials, then that’s what their bots will be scanning for.
Typos and grammatical mistakes. These can seem like small things, especially for roles that don’t require written communications skills on the job, but proper spelling and grammar matter to employers across the board. Why? Because your resume is your marketing document – you’re trying to impress them with your professionalism and enthusiasm for the job. You can take as much time as you need to polish it before sending it in.
So, what does it say about your work ethic if you can’t even create an error-free document when you’re most looking to impress them? How will you perform on the job or under a tight deadline? The first impression an employer has of you and your work can take a hit based on a single typo.
The fix: Don’t write, edit, or customize a resume and send it in right away. Always take a break, walk away, and come back and reread it at least half an hour later. Your brain will know what you meant to type or spell and fill in the mistakes for you. Unless you read over your document with fresher eyes, you literally won’t see your errors.
Better yet, have someone else read over your resume and cover letter for you. A second opinion will be more likely to catch typos or awkward phrasings that you overlook.
Contact information. It’s amazing how many people make mistakes with their own contact information on their job applications. From making a typo in an email address to using one that they don’t check regularly, candidates sometimes wonder why they never heard from employers, when the fact was employers couldn’t get in touch with them.
The fix: Make sure that you list an email address and a phone number at the top of your resume – and double, triple check them to make sure that they are correct.
List a phone number that you will actually answer. Many people never check their voicemails anymore – and that leaves many voicemail boxes full to capacity. It can be annoying to answer calls from unknown numbers, but if you’re applying for jobs, you have to do it.
Use an email address that you check regularly – and check your spam or junk folder often as well. An employer will likely be writing to you from a corporate email address – and they won’t be on your contact list. That makes them targets for spam filters. You don’t want your inbox settings to be standing between you and employment opportunities.
Now, of course, there are other reasons why you might not hear from employers, especially if you are applying for jobs outside of your field or background, or that you don’t meet the qualifications for. However, if you produce a well-written, error-free resume that contains the most relevant keywords employers are looking for, and you’re easy to get in touch with, you’ll stand a much better chance of moving on to the next step in the hiring process. The job interview.