— March 8, 2019
You can spend hours perfecting your resume, ensuring that the spelling and grammar are exceptional, tailoring it to a specific job opening, and making sure you check every box, and yet you may still get a rejection letter or radio silence. Even though you’re doing everything right, it still might not be enough to land that job you’ve had your eye on – and it may not have much to do with your actual resume.
There can be a million and one reasons why a resume is rejected, and here are just a few:
1. You’re not the ideal fit. Even though you met the requirements of the job description, the employer may have something more in mind they’re looking for. Maybe the job description wasn’t as specific or detailed as it should have been, or maybe they couldn’t put into words exactly what they wanted but knew it when they saw it. Since you’re not a mind reader, you can only do so much.
2. It’s an inside job. Some companies require a job to be posted even if they already have an internal candidate they want to promote into the role. It’s a technicality that can be frustrating for job seekers, but unfortunately it happens.
3. The timing is off. If you wait too long to apply – even if the job opening hasn’t closed yet – the employer may have already found a strong match. It’s tough to know exactly when the best time to apply is, but usually the sooner you can get your application in, the better. Another issue can be that an employer may put a job on hold if they’re unsure whether they want to fill it or have the resources, and they may have posted the opening to gauge interest or create a pipeline of potential candidates.
4. The job changed. The position that was posted may not end up being exactly what the company is hiring for. As applications were received or more information was gathered, they may find that they’re looking for something slightly different. So your resume that was perfectly tailored to the role may not be the best fit for what they ultimately decided they wanted.
5. There was overwhelming interest. If you’ve ever looked at online job boards that track applications, you can see that sometimes hundreds or thousands of people apply for a single role. That can be incredibly overwhelming for a hiring manager, even with the help of technology. While your resume may have made it through for consideration, it could have gotten lost in the stack of others that did too.
6. The need was immediate. Sometimes employers need to fill a position now, and even though you’re an outstanding candidate, they can’t wait for you to relocate, so they pick an equally qualified person who is local. It can be helpful to mention the ability to quickly relocate in your cover letter – but only if you’re prepared and able to actually do it.
7. There was discrimination. Discrimination in hiring is illegal, but that does not mean that it never happens. You may have been passed over due to a number of reasons such as employment status, gender, education, career history, potential salary requirements, or even where you earned your degree. Some hiring managers are very picky or may have unintentional biases.
8. You have a poor online impression. Your resume may be standout, but what does your social media presence say about you? If you have questionable content or images on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or personal blog, it may be a turnoff to a potential employer. Clean up your online presence before you dive into your job search.
While it’s impossible to anticipate or overcome all of these challenges, some things you can do to boost your chances are to use your network and connections to help you get in front of a potential employer, follow up on applications to keep your name top of mind, and continue to tailor your resume as best you can given the information available.