Waves of hiring surges have brought fierce competition back to the job market – for employers. Candidates now have the upper hand in choosing how and where they want to work, a stark contrast to the previous employer-driven years of long interview processes and overcrowded talent pools.
Top talent stays on the job market for an average of 10 days, and if your perfect-on-paper resume or phone interviews aren’t getting you any in-person meetings, it’s likely there are other reasons why your candidacy is being dismissed.
When you aren’t hearing back during your job search, these could be one of those reasons why:
Your resume wasn’t ATS friendly
It’s critical to SEO your resume. Used by 40 per cent of employers to source and screen potential candidates, an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is like an inbox gatekeeper that works by scanning resumes for contextual keywords and phrases and mathematically scoring them for relevance.
Only about 25 per cent of resumes will score high enough to get through for human review.
Recruiters use something called a ‘radial search’ by postal code or zip code to source talent closest to the job site first, before taking to secondary search methods. If you live too far outside of the search radius or if you don't have your full address – including postal or zip code on your resume – you may not be considered.
Unresponsive via email
Recruiters should respond to anyone's email – whether it’s a candidate or client - within 24 hours, and if they contact you for a position, they expect the same level of responsive communication. It’s a competitive market for their clients, and today’s digital landscape allows for instant connectivity. Unresponsive talent risks losing opportunities to more communicative candidates.
You came across rude
Hiring managers agree that likability is their #1 hiring factor, and even if you’re the most qualified of candidates but you come across rude, arrogant or demonstrate an all-together undesirable personality, it’s likely a recruiter or hiring manager won’t want to engage in person, as it could be an indication that you could cause issues within the team and could get let go quickly from the role.
Once you’ve tailored yours to the job you’re applying to, always ensure to check and double check for errors, and then send to someone you trust for a fresh pair of proofing eyes.
61-76 per cent of hiring managers will reject a candidate based on one or two typos in their resume.
Refusing to revise your resume
Recruiters - especially, work to build long lasting relationships with the clients they represent and, in doing so, have come to know what each one expects from the candidates they’re being presented. If a recruiter requests resume changes, it’s because they're trying to present your skills and experience in a way they know will impress.
Resume content is too outside standard practices
There’s a difference between the content of your resume standing out because it’s impressive or standing out because it raises eyebrows for appearing too outside of standard practices. For example, 88 per cent of hiring managers reject qualified candidates for having a photo on their resume. Furthermore, when applying to jobs in North America, it isn’t standard practice to include things like age, marital status, religion, inappropriate email addresses and hobbies or interests unrelated to the job or field of interest on your resume.
Unexplained resume gaps
It’s important to explain any gaps in your resume that are longer than three months. Anything less than 90 days isn’t too alarming, as it can be explained that it was because of market conditions, time of year, continuing education etc. that made it difficult to find the next project. Anything longer than three months without an explanation will be a red flag to recruiter or hiring manager.
Mistakes in your email
Similar to ensuring that your resume is grammatically correct and is free of spelling errors, it’s also important to double check that you're addressing the correct company in your application. When sending your resume to Pepsi for example, the hiring manager may be put off if you describe how excited you are for an opportunity at Coca Cola. It will also demonstrate a lack of attention to detail.
Questionable social media presence
Organizations are getting creative on social media platforms to engage candidates, with 77 per cent of them using LinkedIn to source talent and 63 per cent using Facebook. Furthermore, with the rise of the millennial recruiter and Gen Z entering the workforce, a quarter of recruiters are now investing their efforts on Instagram. And while they’re looking over your skills and qualifications, they’re also on the look-out for any content referencing marijuana ( yes – even though it is legal in some states and provinces), political rants, poor spelling and grammar and photos or videos featuring alcohol consumption.
You’ve ghosted in the past
Whether it’s the tight labour market or a shift in social skills, a recent study by research firm Clutch finds 41 per cent of candidates think it's reasonable to not show up for interviews, ignore offers or just not show up to work. Yet, doing so – especially if you’re using a staffing agency in your job search – poses a huge risk to your professional reputation, as recruiters log each engagement in an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), and it is very evident when a candidate has ghosted.
Referrals will also decrease. Often, when you have industry-specific niche skills, it’s a small workforce world, and executives with hiring authority may know each other and recommend skilled workers for certain projects. If you’ve ghosted an organization in the past, it’s very unlikely you will be recommended.
Multiple and/and inconsistent applications
If you’ve applied to a position at an organization directly or through a staffing agency, never apply multiple times or alter your resume and re-apply. Sending multiple resumes will lead to questions about professionalism and altering your resume will result in questions about your experience. Instead, follow up within 24 hours of sending in your application.
Unrealistic salary expectations
If you’ve discussed salary or rate expectations over the phone, your requirements may exceed the organization’s available resources. If the company thinks you’re too expensive, they may not begin the interview process.
They decided to hire internal
You may have been the perfect candidate, but (even after a round of external interviews), an internal employee may have shown interest in the role. Hiring internally is a low-risk move and one many organizations will make if there's a qualified member already on staff.
The job requirements changed
Over the course of looking over several different candidates, the company may have decided to revise the job description all together. As a result, management may have also revised the required skills.
The job search process and be frustrating, and while candidates have the upper hand over employers, competition is still rife within talent pools.
Are you working with a staffing agency to find your next great opportunity?