You've been applying for jobs every day, but you feel stuck. Your job search isn't going anywhere. You submit job applications, but never hear back from employers. Why aren't you getting interviews? What are you doing wrong? Is it your resume?
Chances are, your resume is to blame.
It's very easy for job seekers to make common mistakes on their resume, unknowingly making it harder for themselves to get their job application in front of the hiring manager. Can your resume get past the ATS? Will your resume stand out to hiring managers in those first few seconds?
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to prevent your resume from getting tossed. Here are three reasons why your resume isn't working, and how to fix them.
1. You Don't Have Enough Keywords
Most companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to sort through all of the resumes they receive for their job postings. One of the ways they determine which job candidates are qualified for a specific job is by looking at the keywords they've included on their resume. How many keywords on your resume match the keywords in the job description? If you don't have enough of the right keywords on your resume, you'll get screened out of the hiring process by the ATS. This means your resume will get tossed without it ever crossing the hiring manager's desk.
If you're not getting contacted by employers, not having enough keywords (or the right keywords) on your resume could be the reason why.
The Solution: Include keywords from the job description on your resume. What skills, technologies, and experience are employers looking for? How many of these skills do you possess? Are you familiar with any of the technologies/software you'd be using on the job? Do you have the right kind of experience? Once you identify what you need for the position you want to apply for, make sure you customize your resume for that specific job so you give yourself the best possible chance to get past the ATS and impress hiring managers. List relevant skills in the top fold of your resume (don't keyword stuff) and be sure to use the terms mentioned in the job description on your resume, if applicable.
2. You're Using An Outdated Resume Format
Another reason why your resume might not be working is because you're using an outdated resume format. Similar to the first reason, your resume format could be preventing the ATS from effectively reviewing the information on your resume. But if your resume does get past the ATS with an outdated format, hiring managers could still take a look at your resume, see that it's outdated and hard to read, and then decide to toss your resume because you didn't make it easy for them to get the information they need about you. With an outdated resume format, you also run the risk of looking old and out of touch, which won't help your case if you're already worried about age discrimination.
If your resume isn't easy to read and it doesn't stand out to hiring managers in the first few seconds it's getting reviewed, you won't get contacted. Employers simply won't be able to determine whether you're qualified for the job or not because you didn't make it easy for them to find that information out.
The Solution: To ensure your resume gets past the ATS and stands out to hiring managers, use an updated resume format. Pay attention to how you're formatting each section of your resume and make sure the formatting is consistent throughout the document. Focus on using bullet points in your "Work History" section, delete lengthy paragraphs, and don't force your resume onto one page. This will help you make sure there's enough white space on your resume so it's easier to read. When in doubt, a simple, clean resume format is the best option.
3. You Aren't Quantifying Your Work Experience
Let's assume you had enough keywords on your resume that it got past the ATS. Let's also assume you used an updated resume format. Now that your resume is in the hiring manager's hands, and all the information on it is easy to read, how are you standing out from the competition? Does your work experience prove that you'd be a valuable employee? What is the service you provide as a business-of-one? What is your specialty? Do you get results? What have you accomplished?
If you're not quantifying your work experience on your resume, you're going to have a harder time impressing hiring managers. Quantifiable information allows hiring managers to measure the degree of knowledge and skills you have to offer. It's a way to inform them about what and how much you can bring to the table.
The Solution: Learn how to quantify your work experience on your resume. Think about what you've accomplished in your career. Look at the bullet points in the "Work History" section of your resume and try to include at least one number for each. Including numbers on your resume not only shows hiring managers what you can do, but they also help your resume stand out since numbers break up text and grab peoples' attention. If you can't quantify something, it doesn't belong on your resume.
As a job seeker, nothing is more frustrating than spending hours applying for jobs only to never hear back from employers. If your resume isn't working, it's probably due to one (or more) of the reasons above. Follow our tips so you can avoid these resume mistakes and finally land the job you want!