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career, job search, recruiting

Job seekers: Here are a few things that can get you rejected from consideration–quickly

A friend and I were talking recently. They have been looking for a new job  for awhile without much success. They asked if I’d take a look at their resume, and of course I said yes.

It quickly became evident why they weren’t getting any bites; the resume was a mess. The objective statement was all about what they wanted–not what they had to offer. I couldn’t understand what they’d done in at least two of their jobs–and I know their work history. There were misspellings in multiple places. The format was confusing. The marked up version I sent back had so much strikethrough and comments it was difficult to discern what was still left of the original.

That’s #1 on the list:

  1. A poorly written resume. Unless you are an English major crossed with a grammar freak, if you think your resume is ‘good enough’ it probably isn’t. When you’ve re-written it a number of times you may no longer have the ability to really ‘see’ the content with fresh eyes. You won’t catch misspellings, grammar issues, and lack of clarity. Have someone who reads resumes a lot review it if you can; they will give you very honest feedback and likely catch things you haven’t. (Even I do this.)
  2. Overshooting your salary expectations. Yes, it’d be nice to make 20-25% more than you make now; but unless your current compensation is VERY far under the market average it isn’t going to happen. Use tools like salary.com to educate yourself on what is market-correct in your region for your job title and level of experience. 
  3. Applying for a position that is below your current level. At least, without a valid explanation in a cover letter as to why you want to do this. If you are currently a Senior Accountant and you apply for an Accounts Payable Coordinator position, the recruiter is going to make a few assumptions. 1) You didn’t read the job description very carefully. 2) You’re going to be WAY over the top of the pay range for that position. 3 ) You’ll be crazy bored by the end of week one. Perhaps you’ve burned out on working 100 hour weeks near quarter end and you just want to spend more time with your family–great! But you need to explain that up front or you will likely be disqualified.
  4. Applying for a position WAY above your current level. Yep–the inverse can also be true. If you’re currently a Software Test Engineer and you’re applying for a Test Manager position, you best have a VERY compelling business case as to why you meet all of the requirements–and most of the preferred qualifications–for the Test Manager position. Otherwise, the recruiter will likely glance at your resume to make sure there’s nothing they’re missing as they select the “unconsider candidate” button. 
  5. Applying for a position on the other side of the country that isn’t usually one for which a company will pay to relocate. Relocating an employee–and in some cases their family as well–is an expensive proposition. Companies do relocate–in some cases from other countries–when talent is extremely hard to find in their local, regional, or national market (Amazon, for instance, has been relocating people from as far afield as Australia). However, if you’re applying for a Group Administrator or Junior Accountant position? It’s unlikely to be eligible for paid relocation as there are qualified candidates available locally. In many cases recruiters view such applications as what they likely are: A job seeker had the position pop up in a daily Indeed web search for relevant positions to a specific job title, and they applied to meet a minimum job search requirement for state Unemployment benefits. If you’re serious about relocating–and are doing so yourself in the very near future–state it on your resume right up top.
  6. Overpromising and underdelivering. A savvy recruiter is going to know very quickly if someone has exaggerated the knowledge, skills, and experience on their resume (perhaps because of #4 above). If they don’t catch it, the hiring manager will. Ensure that your resume accurately reflects what you know–and have done.
  7. Not responding quickly when a recruiter contacts you about scheduling a phone screen or interview. This most frequently happens when a candidate doesn’t check their Spam or Junk folders. Unfortunately, there’s little we can do on this end  about that, so it’s important to be very diligent on checking those folders to ensure you’re not missing a critical email.
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