Most people have applied for a job at some point in their career and not received a call for an interview. It is incredibly frustrating especially if you are truly qualified for the position. So, what gives? If you are so perfect for the job, why are you not given a chance for an interview? It really comes down to one of two things: your experience or your resume. You are either underqualified for the position, overqualified or your resume is less than perfect.
You Are Not Qualified
If you are not qualified for the position you most likely will not get an interview. This sounds obvious, but it is hard for some people to determine if they are qualified. If the position asked for 10 years experience in customer service and you only have 7, you do not match their criteria for the position. And while you might think that you are better at customer service than the person who has 10 years, there is no way for a hiring manager to know that even if your resume has reached their desk.
If you are underqualified for the position (but close), my advice is to recognize this in your cover letter. Your cover letter is an opportunity to let the hiring manager know what they can’t find in the resume and why you are perfect for the position. If, however, you have 1 year experience and 10 is a required minimum, you need to move on. Even if you are the only person that applies for the job, you would most likely be miserable in a position in which you are severely underqualified.
You Are Overqualified
If you have way more experience than what is required for the position, you may not receive an interview. An HR manager may look at an overqualified person as a flight risk. There is a chance that you will become bored in the position or come to the realization that you could make more money elsewhere and leave for another job. Hiring a new employee is costly for an employer and they are looking for an employee that is committed. If you are overqualified for the position, yet this is your dream job, you will need to address this in the cover letter. It is to your benefit to recognize that you are overqualified and to explain why you still really want the job.
Your Resume Is Less Than Perfect
If you are applying to a job that you are qualified for, your resume needs to be pretty close to perfect to get that interview. Most employers use an applicant tracking system to sort and filter submitted resumes. This system is set to highlight and feature the top candidates. This means that if your resume is not chosen by the system, it won’t reach the hiring manager’s desk. Your resume needs to be written to beat the applicant tracking system.
How To Beat The Applicant Tracking System
The applicant tracking system has filters that are set to match the job description. For example, if the title of the position you are applying to is staff accountant, the system will search for resumes with the key title “staff accountant.” If you have a title of staff accountant on your resume, you will move to the top of the list. The way you write your resume can be just as important as the actual experience when trying to get an interview. Here are our top tips on how to beat the applicant tracking system.
An applicant tracking system is going to compare your resume to the job posting. So, if you are applying to jobs with the same resume, you are making a mistake. Each resume needs to be tailored to include keywords that are in each job posting. Start with the job title. If you had similar roles in the past as the job you are applying for, try to match the titles of your prior positions with the title of the job you are applying for.
Next, look at how you describe your experiences and skills. Do they include the same keywords as that in the job posting? For example, if the job posting says, High degree of proficiency MS Office Suite and you write Proficient in Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Word, the keywords do not match. For this job posting, you would be better off copying what is in the posting. The idea is to use as many keywords in the job posting as possible without overusing them or lying.
Think of headings as a map. While fancy headings may look nice, it could be confusing for the applicant tracking system. It is best to use simple headings. Use headings like Skills, Work Experience and Education. By using simple headings, your resume will look clean, organized and has a better chance of not confusing an applicant tracking system.
Do Not Abbreviate
As a general rule, you should not abbreviate words on your resume. There are exceptions to the rule, with States being the most common and acceptable term to abbreviate. If you are unsure whether a word should be abbreviated, first refer to the job posting. If it is abbreviated in the job posting, it may be to your advantage to abbreviate as well. The applicant tracking system may filter resumes based on the words in the job postings. For example, if a technical term is abbreviated in the job posting (i.e. “MS” for “Microsoft Suite”), the employer may search resumes with the term “MS.” If the word you are interested in abbreviating is not in the job posting, spell it out. There is a greater chance it will make it past the applicant tracking system. Also, it looks nicer to read Master of Business Administration than MBA.
Triple check your resume for spelling and grammatical errors. Not only is this off-putting to a hiring manager, but it may completely eliminate the chance of your resume reaching the hiring manager’s desk. If a keyword is misspelled on your resume, it will not be correctly read by the applicant tracking system. It will not register as a match and your resume will fall to the bottom of the list of candidates. Even if your resume does make it to the hiring manager’s desk, 9 out of 10 times it will be put in the trash if there are spelling or grammar errors.
Contact The Employer
If you believe that you are the perfect candidate for the job, it doesn’t hurt to directly contact the employer. Maybe your resume didn’t make it through the applicant tracking system as a top 5, but contacting the employer can show that you really want the job and your resume might be given a second look. It is best to wait about one week after your application submission. There is a chance that the employer will respond to you, with good or bad news, but either way, you have an answer.
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It provides general information and is not intended and should not be construed as professional advice. The author is not your attorney, accountant, financial planner or any other professional and no professional-client relationship is created. We do not represent that the information provided is accurate or up-to-date as laws and regulations are always changing. If you have an issue that requires professional help, you should contact the appropriate professional to help you on your specific set of facts. Please read the Terms and Conditions for additional information.