8 Reasons Your Resume Might Have Been Overlooked Skip to main content

8 Reasons Your Resume Might Have Been Overlooked

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Has job hunting left you feeling defeated? You have the skills. You have the experience. So, why aren’t you getting a call back for an interview? Many job hunters deal with this frustration, so our friends over at Barnes & Noble College’s blog The College Juice chatted with career experts and mentors for their input on why your resume might have been overlooked. Here’s the scoop.

1. You stuck to a generic cover letter and objective template.
“I see a lot of resumes, and I can recognize the top 10 cover letter templates/objective templates in a heartbeat. In my opinion, if you don’t know what to list as an objective, leave it off and let your experience stand for itself. With a cover letter, make it personal and tailored to the brand you’re applying for. It will definitely be worth the extra time and could be the deciding factor in getting a call back.”
– Chloe Polanco, Career Contessa

2. There were too many special characters.
“These days a lot of recruiters are using online systems, otherwise known as applicant tracking systems, as a tool to screen candidates. Having too many special characters on your resume hinders their systems from being able to pick up the resume correctly. I can not tell you how many resumes I’ve simply not seen because the system could not parse particular fonts or images and so rendered the resume almost blank.”
– Iris Sullivan, FindersKeepers Talent

3. The information didn’t translate well.
“Forward your resume to your friend and see if they are able to articulate the bullets you list under your experience section. The hiring manager needs to easily grasp your experience. Once you start conversing with someone outside of your company/industry, it’s easier to see how you can better articulate your abilities and accomplishments.”
– Jill Jacinto, jilljacinto.com

4. You didn’t demonstrate your accomplishments.
“Your resume didn’t explain how you’re different from a sea of candidates with similar qualifications. Especially when you’re early in your career, the people competing for the same jobs as you probably have fairly similar resumes — college, some extracurriculars, some summer jobs and an internship or two. The way you get plucked out of that stack and called for an interview is by demonstrating a particular track record of drive and achievement that’s specific to how you approached your work. That means, for example, that instead of just writing that you answered customer calls at your last job, you write about the sorts of problems you solved for customers and that your manager lauded you for your ability to deal diplomatically with frustrated callers. Or that instead of writing that you processed paperwork, you write about how you cleared up the four-month backlog you inherited and created a new filing system so that colleagues could find documents more efficiently. Those sorts of details about what you achieved — not just the duties you were assigned — are what will make your resume stand out to a hiring manager.”
– Alison Green, askamanager.org

“A major deal breaker when it comes to resumes is not having quantifiable accomplishments. Your resume should be able to explain all of your achievements with results. If your title states you’re a Sales Associate, I more or less know you’re greeting customers or resolving customer issues. I want to know how much revenue did you bring in, show me the dollar sign. I want to see numbers of how many customers you helped on average in any given day or week, not just know you worked in a busy location. Paint a picture for your reader and you’ll stand out from the pile of resumes.”
– Emily Liou, Cultivitae

5. You gave too much information.
“I’d say the biggest mistake people make on their resumes is to make them far too wordy. The reality is recruiters and hiring managers usually have only a few minutes to look at a resume and it’s easy to skip over one that just have way too many sentences in it. I subscribe to the “less is more” mentality when it comes to a resume. You should always make your bullet points clear and succinct and give enough information for the recruiter or hiring manager to want to keep reading, and if they want to find out more, they will reach out to do so.”
– Iris Sullivan, FindersKeepers Talent

“A good rule of thumb is to include only the last 7 years of experience, and to focus on what’s most relevant to the position you’re applying for — and yes, keep it to one page if you can. Nothing will lose my attention faster than a resume that’s pages & pages long for not that much experience. While you may be proud of everything you’ve ever done, focus on highlighting the biggest responsibilities in your role, and anything that makes you more qualified for the position of interest. You can use the phone interview/initial screen to talk more about all the other accomplishments that you’re so proud of.”
– Chloe Polanco, Career Contessa

6. You just rewrote the job description.
Do not, I repeat, do not simply copy and paste your initial job description into the experience section of you resume. It will not only put the hiring manager to sleep, it also is not an accurate reflection of your skills and accomplishments. Only list items that match your new job description and show your success.
– Jill Jacinto, jilljacinto.com

7. You left out a summary.
“When it comes to resumes, I’m surprised at how non-existent Summaries are at the top of the resume, immediately following the contact information. A summary is a few sentences of your overall background. It’s different compared to an objective because you’re not seeking what you want; rather, a summary aims to explain what you offer. It’s important to be able to highlight a big picture overview of what you can bring to the table before someone has to dissect all of the experience and education listed.”
– Emily Liou, Cultivitae

8. You overlooked grammatical errors.
“Far too often, I see typo’s or grammatical errors on resumes or cover letters. Since a resume/cover letter is my first & only impression of you at this point, it’s a huge turn off and often the reason I’ll instantly pass on an otherwise decent profile. Always ask a friend to double check your work, or hire a mentor to do a once over on important documents like these.”
– Chloe Polanco, Career Contessa

“Another reason your resume might get skipped over seems very obvious, but grammatical errors are one of the biggest reasons a resume would be dismissed. Employers want to see that you care about the company you’re applying for and are detail oriented and will not be able to get a sense of that if there are multiple grammatical errors on your resume.”
– Iris Sullivan, FindersKeepers Talent

Did we overlook any reasons your resume might have been slipped through the cracks? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook. Then head over to The College Juice for more great advice and tips.