We hear it all the time: "I’m sending out my resume and I’m qualified for the position, so why is my resume not getting interviews or callbacks?"
In this article, we’ll discuss the possible reasons, and go through some fixes that will land you more interviews…and ultimately the job.
Why am I not getting interviews or callbacks after I submit my resume?
First of all, you should know that many job seekers are in the same boat. You’re qualified for the job, you submit a resume and just never hear back. So what’s going on?
You have to realize that there are an average of 250 resumes sent per opening in the United States. That's a ton of competition you have to beat out!
Out of those 250 resumes sent, only 4 to 6 people are actually called in for the interview. You don’t have to be a math whiz to know that’s only a very small percentage!
There's more competition than ever and you won’t get a call back from every job you apply to. Landing a job requires some hustle and work. However, if you've been submitting your resume to positions that you would be a great fit for more than two months and you haven't gotten any interview requests, it's time to rethink your strategy.
Don’t get discouraged! Follow these 9 tips to help you land interviews.
1. Start with your resume
We hear this question a lot: What's wrong with my resume?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of possibilities for what might be going wrong. This post will discuss the most common resume issues, but it's also a great move to look into personalized resume review services to learn what might be impacting your resume. ZipJob has one powered by our team of career experts and certified professional resume writers.
Your resume is your first impression when applying for a job. Many people neglect to put in the time and effort to create a really effective resume. When you’re trying to beat out hundreds of people for the job, there is no room for error. Here is what your resume needs to land more interviews:
Quantifiable and measurable results:
With the number of resumes sent, you don’t want to come off as just a doer, you want to come off as an achiever. Include numbers where possible to catch the attention of the hiring manager. “Increased sales by 120%” sounds better than just “increased sales”.
You should be tailoring your resume to each position you apply to. That doesn’t mean you need to rewrite your resume for each position you apply to but you should be making minor tweaks and edits to better align your resume with the job description. This can include changing your summary and keywords to better fit the job description.
You should see a big improvement in your application to interview ratio when you start tailoring your resume.
Use ATS friendly formats:
The majority of companies use an ATS (applicant tracking system) to scan your resume before anyone ever sees it. They are programmed to send forward the resumes it feels are a good fit for the job. They do this based on the information and keywords in your resume.
If you aren't sure what resume format to use, this guide walks you through the three most popular resume formats for American and Canadian employers.
The majority of resumes submitted are weeded out and not seen by the employer.
That’s right, 76% of resumes sent today are deleted by these systems. That means if 250 resumes are submitted, over 170 are deleted and never seen by human eyes.
Ensure your resume is formatted correctly and contains the correct keywords to bypass these systems. You should also send your resume as a .doc file, not a PDF.
2. Send a cover letter
This sort of goes with the resume but we had to mention it because so many people either don’t send a cover letter, or neglect to write one effectively. This may be a big reason you're not getting interviews.
Unlike the resume. your cover letter allows you to put in some personality and explain your fit for the position in a friendly and conversational tone.
Sending a cover letter could drastically increase your chances of employment. You can check out our easy to follow guide on writing an awesome cover letter.
Remember that if a job listing doesn't ask for a cover letter you should still send one. The only time you shouldn't send one is when the job listing specifically says no cover letters--which is rare.
The majority of positions today are filled through referrals and this is another step most people neglect. You need to get social with friends, family and old colleagues and see if someone can pass along your resume for an opening.
Through your network, there are probably hundreds of people you can reach out to. You’d be surprised at how many people will be willing to pass along your resume to help you out.
Your chances for an interview and securing a job are far greater from a referral. Don’t forget the fact that some employees even receive a bonus from referring someone.
Here is a sample message you can start sending your network:
Hope all is well!I’m currently looking for a new position as an accountant and I was wondering if you know of any openings or anyone in your network you can connect me to.
Try sending this to 50 people via your LinkedIn profile. Most likely, about half of these people will respond. Remember that these people know people and reaching out to 50 could really mean reaching out to hundreds.
4. Follow Up
Are you following up after you submit your resume? A follow up after submitting your resume can set you apart from the rest of the applicants. Many people don’t send a follow up email and that’s a mistake.
There is a fine line between sounding desperate and interested so ensure your timing and message are correct. For more on this, check out our post on following up after submitting your resume.
You should about a week before following up, but ensure there is no job posting end date. Some job postings (mostly government jobs) have an open and end date. They accept resumes until the end date, so don’t reach out before the closing date as this will look desperate and unprofessional.
If there is no end date, wait around five business days from the time you sent your resume. Here is what your first follow up email should look like:
Dear [Name of hiring manager]
I submitted my resume earlier this week for the web developer position. I am really interested in working for [Name of company] and feel my deep understanding of [Major Skills requirements from job description] would be a great fit for the position.
Please let me know if there is any other information I can provide. You can reach me at 555-555-5555 and I look forward to hearing from you.
This is a good template to start with and you can mix it up depending on your industry or the company. It shows that you have a real interest in working for the company by naming the company and the requirements.
If you don’t receive an email, you can try following up in another two weeks.
5. Search smarter
Where do you search for jobs? This will have a big impact on getting an interview and ultimately landing a job.
If you’re using a job board aggregator like Indeed, there is a ton of competition. Job board aggregators display jobs from all around the web and various job boards. Using an online application is the hardest way to land interviews because it's the most common.
However, these job boards are generally good indications of who is hiring and what industries are popular.
Although it is a good place to start, that shouldn't be the only place you look. Here are other places you should look that may not receive as many applicants:
There are a lot of open public sector jobs in a wide variety of industries. You should find your state's official website for job openings. We have a list of other government job search sites here.
You can look for jobs on the websites of your target company list and you’d be surprised how many list available jobs. This is usually the case for larger companies. For example, Amazon's site currently has hundreds of openings in several categories:
There are many websites that offer jobs in a specific industry. They do tend to be for professions where more technical skills are required. Here are some resources for finding industry-specific job openings:
6. Contact the company directly
Can you contact a company directly for a job opening? Absolutely!
This is really effective for two reasons. First, it shows that you have a real interest in working for that company. That puts you ahead of the hundreds of applications they receive when they post on a job board.
Second, it saves them a ton of money. Yes, a ton!
Hiring for a single position can cost a company tens of thousands of dollars. When you go directly to the company, they can cut their costs for recruiting fees. Here are some steps you should take when reaching out directly to the company:
Step 1: Make a list of 40-50 companies you would like to work for. (The more the better!) This list should be specific to your industry, location, and long-term career goals.
Step 2: Come up with a letter of interest email to send to the potential employer. This explains who you are, a bit about your background, and why you want to work with that employer.
Step 3: Look for the jobs section or an email address of a hiring manager. You can usually find it by browsing around the company website. If you can’t find it, you can reach out to general support and ask for the contact information for the hiring manager. If that doesn't work, we have more tips about finding contact information in this post: How to Email a Resume: 7 Tips + FAQs
Once you have the correct contact, go ahead and send your letter. You would be surprised at the number of them that actually respond.
If you're not getting interviews, lacking major qualifications could be a major reason. One of the top reasons people don’t get called back after submitting a resume is because they don’t meet the minimum qualifications.
Should you apply to jobs you’re not qualified for?
Yes, in many circumstances you should still apply, but you have to ensure you meet the minimum qualifications. Here is where many job seekers go wrong:
If the position asks for licenses, certifications, or minimum education requirements that you don’t have, then don’t waste your time applying.
One exception is if the position asks for five years of experience and you only have three, go ahead and apply anyway. You will be able to explain your qualifications and ability to handle the job should you attend an interview.
View 200+ more professional resume samples for all industries, along with a free template and a 2020 guide to writing resumes from our experts.
You don’t have to be a math whiz to know that the more jobs you apply to, the greater the chances of landing the interview. Just ensure that you’re qualified so you don’t waste your time.
How many jobs should I apply to? As many as you’re qualified for!
All too often, job seekers send out a couple of resumes and then get discouraged when they don’t hear back. Remember that there are potentially hundreds of other applicants going after the same job, so you need to apply for as many jobs as you are qualified for.
We recommend 10 to 15 applications a week with a focus on quality, not quantity. Adjust your strategy if you're not hearing back from about 25% of your applications.
A good response asks for a phone interview, a face to face interview, or additional information about your candidacy. If you're sending out 12 high-quality applications per week and not getting a good response from 3 of them, start at the top of this list again.
The last tip is to tailor your resume and cover letter to each position you apply to. This greatly increases your chances of getting noticed. Look at the job description and see what they’re asking for.
For example, take a look at this job description for a bookkeeper:
The major keywords in those duties should be listed on your resume and if they aren’t, make sure you include them.
Read our complete guide on exactly how to use keywords on your resume.
Your cover letter should also contain the name of the company and why you would be beneficial to them. This shows a real interest in working for that particular company and that your application was well prepared and thought out.
Avoid just sending the same resume for every position as you will be disappointed with the results!
Putting time and thought into each application and your job search as a whole is crucial if you really want to land a job. Competition these days is high, and the way we find and apply to jobs is drastically changing.
Gone are the days where someone sits reading each and every resume. Today, companies use software to scan resumes that help determine if you’re a good match for the position. If you're not getting interviews, it could be because these systems are screening out your resume automatically. Remember that you need to write your resume for both humans and the resume screeners. If you're not getting interviews, the tips we mentioned above should help drastically.
As always, good luck with your job search!
The ZipJob team is made up of professional writers located across the USA and Canada with backgrounds in HR, recruiting, career coaching, job placement, and professional writing.