The Top 5 Reasons Your Resume Isn’t Getting Callbacks
You’ve spent hours in all of your free time (insert eye roll here) trying to write a resume that *hopefully* communicates your skills and experience in such a way that recruiters are beating down the door to hire you, but the honest truth is, you’re not sure what that even looks like. So, when one month…two months…six months go by and you still haven’t heard anything, you begin to wonder if you’re really the least qualified individual who has ever walked the planet, or if maybe (and you really hope it’s this), your resume just isn’t working for you. It could be the first, and if so, you may need to reevaluate the types of roles you are applying for. On the other hand, it could be your resume. Here are some of the top reasons your resume might be dropping the ball.
1. It’s too long.
You’ve heard this one again and again. You’re probably thinking: “Ok, I got it, stick to one page.” The truth is, the length of your resume isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for resume success. So, while a two-page resume might be good for one person, it may not be ok for someone else. A good rule of thumb is this: if you have ten or more years of experience, a two-page resume is ok. Anything less than that, a one-page resume is probably ideal. Whether or not your resume is too long depends on who you are, how many jobs you’ve held, and what kind of roles you are applying for. If you’re applying for senior-level roles, you’re going to need more than one page to communicate why you are a credible candidate.
Go with your gut here. Once you’ve written out your resume, go back through it with a recruiter lens. Did you add a section to fill space? Are there bullets that don’t serve a purpose? Go back and see what you can cut to make it more concise and focused on the set of skills the recruiter is going to be most interested in.
2. The bullet points are too vague.
There’s a difference between being concise and being vague on your resume. Being concise means saying the same thing in 10 words that you could say in 20. Conciseness is good on a resume. Vagueness, on the other hand, means forcing someone to infer what you’re trying to say. Many people confuse being vague with being concise, which is why so many bullet points are one-line laundry-lists of daily responsibilities.
If you want to write a bullet point that is specific, yet concise, it should include these 3 elements: the what, the how, and the why. What you did, how you did it, and why this was significant to your company/team/employer. Recruiters are skeptical about vague language because lots of people try to get away with a little white lie on their resume by being vague. Avoid any red flags by providing the right details (without going overboard).
3. It has too much design.
Everyone wants their resume to stand out, but some resumes stand out for all the wrong reasons. Many people sacrifice the content of their resume for the design, which can be a costly mistake. If you’re using a template with large margins, lots of tables, or strange fonts, you’re probably not making the most out of the space on the page, which means you’re letting the design of your resume dictate what details you can include. You might have heard that ATS scanners hate design-heavy resumes, but recruiters don’t care for them, either. Design-centric resumes are more difficult to pull key details from because rather than being able to quickly scan the page from top to bottom, your eyes have to circle the page, jumping from one column to the next in order to pick out items that are important.
Besides the pragmatic issues that are associated with an overdesigned resume, there’s always the chance that a recruiter simply won’t like the design. Maybe your favorite color is red, but the person reading your resume hates red. Traditional, linear formats with classic color schemes and fonts are a safer option because you don’t have to worry about your reader’s preferences.
4. You didn’t write it with the recruiter/hiring manager’s interests in mind.
This one is the most common and the most detrimental to your resume. If you didn’t write your resume with your audience in mind, chances are your resume is missing the mark in terms of what the person who will be reading your resume is looking for. Perhaps you were applying for 20 jobs at once and didn’t have time to consider what that company’s hiring manager would think about your resume. Or perhaps you were so focused on including everything a recruiter might need to know, that you forgot to consider that in a world where recruiters have to go through 30 resumes before lunch, they aren’t going to be interested in the awards you received in college 5 years ago.
The way to combat this is to try to put yourself in the place of the recruiter by evaluating whether or not your resume answers the following questions: is my resume easy to read in a matter of seconds? Can I quickly identify key details including concrete skills and moments where I over-performed that are relevant to the job description? Does my resume timeline make sense to someone who doesn’t know me? Is my resume focused on the needs of my next employer? If the answer to any questions is “no,” you were probably writing your resume with an unclear purpose. Step back and do more research about the role and the company, strategize how best to communicate what they’re looking for on paper, and start revising!
5. You’re not following up.
People who remain active participants in their job search have a better chance of getting noticed by the hiring manager. Now, don’t overdo it by emailing once a week or your resume will earn a one-way trip to the dumpster. However, a quick follow-up email a couple of weeks after you applied can be the determining factor that decides whether you get chosen for an interview not.
Keep your follow-up simple by thanking them for reviewing your resume and asking them about a general timeline for when they expect to contact candidates regarding interviews so you can determine when you might hear from them. The simple act of following-up can communicate to the recruiter that you’re serious about the position and give them a solid first impression about who you are as a professional.
If your resume isn’t working, the worst thing you can do is assume everyone else is the problem. Namely, because that won’t get you anywhere. It’s better to assume your resume is the problem because your resume is something you can work on. If you’re not getting callbacks, start by getting a second opinion. Having someone else look at your resume with fresh eyes can help you get an unbiased opinion about what your resume is missing (or what it has too much of). Luckily, you can always get a second opinion on your resume by submitting your resume for a complimentary critique on our website.