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5 Reasons Employers Aren’t Calling You Back

Job searching is difficult. It can take weeks to scour search engines and websites and tailor a resume for a specific job. To save you time, I’ve compiled a list of five common mistakes that are likely to make potential employers cringe. I’ve also included remedies for each error.

1. You Aren’t Qualified 

I know this one sounds obvious, but if you are reading the “Required Qualifications” section and there’s more than a few skills you don’t have, chances are this isn’t the job for you. Preferred skills aren’t required but are highly marketable and are likely to be the difference between who does and doesn’t get the job.

What you can do to fix this:

Job searching is a great way to gauge what kinds of skills are needed in your desired field. The qualifications section (among other things) often highlights specific programing, technical, and soft skills needed for the job. If you want to improve or learn these skills, consider taking a course or applying for an internship to gain these skills!

2. Grammatical Errors. Period.

A few misspelled words or incorrect punctuation can be a huge turn-off for employers. Errors come off as sloppy and unfinished. This usually gives the employer the impression that you rushed to apply and didn’t care enough to edit it.

What you can do to fix this:

Spellcheck is not a perfect program, so in addition, I’d suggest having a few close friends read through it before submission. Reading documents aloud can also help you catch errors your brain auto-corrected when you silently read them. As a side note, it’s important to save professional documents as PDFs to ensure the formatting doesn’t change when the employer opens it.

3. Resume/Cover Letter is Too General

If your resume or cover letter looks like it could have been submitted to any company for any job, the employer probably won’t read it. Employers want to see that you’ve taken the time to apply for their position, not just any position.

What you can do to fix this:

Review the job description thoroughly and the company’s values and mission statement. Match key words from these documents onto your resume and be sure to tie your skills back to the company in your cover letter.


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4. Cover Letter is Only About You

The cover letter should definitely elaborate on your qualifications, but it should also help the employer connect the dots showing why you're a good fit for the position and company. 

What you can do to fix this:

There’s an old saying that a cover letter should be about 50/50, meaning you should be talking about the employer just as much as you talk about yourself. This also shows the employer that you’ve taken the time to research the company and make sure it is a good match for you beyond the job description. You could be perfectly qualified for the position on paper, but if you are able to show you core values also match with the employer, you make their job even easier.

5. Your Resume Isn’t Scannable

Employers spend about six seconds skimming resumes and even less if the document is too busy. Multiple columns, graphics and colors can often distract from the most important information—your qualifications.

What you can do to fix this:

First off, check you’re your margins. Make sure you have a margin width of at least 0.5 inches border the entire resume. It can also be helpful to use circular, filled in bullet points to quickly draw the eye to your carefully articulated skill and achievement sentences. Finally, fall back on simplicity when in doubt.

Wrap Up

It's important to remember that there is no such thing as a perfect resume or cover letter. Professional development is an ongoing process that ebbs and flows with our personal interests and overarching career goals. Keeping your documents accurate, free of errors, specific to their audiences, balanced and easy to scan will increase employer and recruiter's chances of reading your documents and calling you in for an interview.

Senior | Strategic Communication
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