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4 Mistakes That Mean No One Is Reading Your Job Application

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Applying for a new job today is as simple as clicking a button. Many career listing websites have a feature that lets you quickly apply to as many open positions as you wish. However, it’s common for generic, one-size-fits-all job applications to fall through the cracks.

Most recruiters receive over 250 applications per listing and spend 10 seconds or less reviewing resumes during the first round of cuts. Minor mistakes in your submission mean no one is even looking at your resume. If you don’t hear back from employers, consider the following oversights that can bury your resume beneath the rejection pile.

4 Resume Mistakes That Are Undermining Your Job Search

1. You’re applying to jobs that you’re not qualified to have.

It’s common for applicants to see a job listed and apply right away without reading through the qualifications. But if you’re missing a certification or you just don’t have enough of the skill requirements, it’s unlikely that a recruiter will even review your material. That’s because most employers use applicant tracking system (ATS) software that imports information from job applications into searchable files. Most of these programs automatically filter out candidates who don’t meet the criteria that’s listed on the job description.

Before you apply to every open position you see on a job board, read through the details of the role and the qualifications that are required. No matter how much experience or passion you have, an employer won’t reach out unless you check most of the boxes on their list. The same is true for any job descriptions that ask for “x” number of years working within the industry. If you don’t have those corresponding dates on your application materials, the ATS software could automatically sort your application to the bottom of the pile.

2. You’re not using relevant keywords.

ATS programs also check for specific keywords to determine your qualifications—so it’s essential to tailor your resume to each application. Otherwise, the ATS won’t locate your relevant experience, and your application will be sorted near the bottom of the pile where the least-qualified candidates appear. The recruiter may not even see your job application at all.

On the other hand, if you research keywords that are associated with the job listing and title, you can integrate those phrases into your application and increase your rating for those terms. With an appropriate keyword density, the ATS software will determine that your application is more relevant to the employer’s search query—which means a recruiter will read your application and is more likely to schedule an interview. Crafting each application to the specific job you’re applying to also shows that you’re interested and willing to put in the effort.

Don’t let an employment gap hurt your chances of finding a new job. Here’s how to hide gaps in your resume (without raising a red flag).

3. You’re not following directions.

It’s easy to accidentally submit a job application incorrectly. Make sure you read all the details before you send in any paperwork—and you might want to wait an hour or two to double-check your work so you can review it objectively.

Before you hit submit, check the following:

  • job applicationAre you applying to the right place (for example, via email or on an ATS platform, like LinkedIn)?
  • Did you attach all the necessary materials, like a cover letter, portfolio, or references page?
  • Is your contact information updated and visible? If you include your name and phone number in a header or footer, this information might not get imported correctly into an ATS program—some software programs don’t review those sections at all.
  • Do you address all the questions or trial assignments that the employer included on the job listing?
  • Does your file follow the employer’s requested naming conventions (ie. LastName_Resume_Date).
  • Have you proofread all your application materials? Even a minor typo can throw off your game when you’re competing with hundreds of other candidates.

4. You don’t have an online presence.

Today, 70% of employers look at a candidate’s social media profiles as a screening tool. Companies want to see a candidate who is engaged with their industry network, has a professional-looking headshot, includes detailed descriptions of their accomplishments, and features samples of their work.

When employers see a LinkedIn profile with only a few connections, little to no descriptions about their past experience, and hardly any engagement, it doesn’t set a good first impression. Take a few minutes every week to review your online presence and share information that’s meaningful to your career.

Don’t think you need to stop at LinkedIn, either. Hiring managers and HR departments frequently use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to gather as much information as possible about a candidate. This might be used as a final screening tool to validate an acceptance or eliminate a bad choice. Employers may not call you back because they saw something on your page that was offensive or inappropriate.

Before you dive into the job search, read through your social media accounts. You should be comfortable showing all your online activity to a potential employer. If you don’t think an employer will be happy with the content that appears there, you can set your profile to private or delete posts that could be seen as controversial. However, before you change all your settings to private, make sure there’s still enough information online that a potential employer can learn more about your candidacy.

Go Slow—But Maximize Your Impact With Every Job Application

If you’re currently in the job market, make sure you’re sharing your best traits and submitting information that is clear, concise, and specific to the job at hand. While taking the extra time on each application may slow down your momentum, it will bring your resume closer to the hiring manager’s desk and give you a higher chance of getting a call back.

Find the jobs that are most relevant to your employment history and align with your goals. Take a look at Ivy Exec’s curated job board—it’s specifically designed for mid- to senior-level career professionals like you. 


About the Author

Kara O’Rourke is a writer and editor living in New York City. She holds a B.A. from Marist College and has worked in publishing and marketing. Currently, she manages a team of copy editors at a B2B marketing agency.