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Why Your Resume is Getting Overlooked (and what to do about it)

Have you been submitting your resume to a variety of job openings and not getting called for interviews? Does it feel like your resume is being overlooked? Let's examine reasons why this may be happening, and what you can do about it.


Are You Applying for the Right Job Openings?


Take a step back and re-evaluate the roles you have applied for. Do you have the education or experience required, or were you applying for positions that were a stretch?


Think through the job application process for each position. Did you have to answer any questions when you submitted the job applications? It is possible that these questions were "screen-out questions" and therefore your answers may have caused your resume to be rejected immediately … even before a human saw it! Be careful to answer all questions honestly and completely. In addition, follow the directions provided during the application process. If they request the resume in Microsoft Word format, submit it in Microsoft Word format.


Your Resume May Not Be Adequately Targeted


Did you create a resume and then submit it to 20 different positions? If yes, this may be your issue.


Resumes need to be targeted to the job opening. This doesn't mean you need to create your resume from scratch for each role you apply for. You should, however, make small modifications to your resume before applying to each job.


Look at the job description and make sure your resume has addressed all of the requirements the hiring manager is looking for. The executive summary is a section that is easy to modify so the resume shows alignment with the posting. Update your title (also known as your personal headline) so it is appropriate for the job opening as well.


Taking the time to evaluate the job description and ensure that your resume addresses the requirements of the employer is worthwhile, because it will help elevate you as a potential candidate. The business is looking to hire because they have a need. Showing -- clearly -- that you can fill that need will increase your chance of being called for an interview.


Look at the Formatting and Consider the ATS


Does your resume include graphics, tables or columns? If yes, this may be causing you issues. Although these features may make your resume visually appealing, they could inadvertently cause your resume to not be fully readable when you submit it through an online job application.



The majority of human resource departments use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to help organize their hiring process. Each system has different capabilities and -- as a job seeker -- you won't know what system is being used by the company you are applying to. In many cases, the ATS is not able to parse information that is in a column or table format. The majority also can't bring graphics in. Therefore, using these formatting styles may result in lost information. When the resume is evaluated by a human, the human recruiter or hiring manager won't have all of the details you provided.


In order to fit more information on a page, job seekers often put their contact information in the header. They may also use the footer for additional content. Again, this can be an issue for the ATS. It may lose the header and footer information when it brings the resume into the system. Items in the header and footer may not be recognized, and the person reviewing the resume may never know that more information was originally included compared to what they are seeing.


Formatting mistakes may confuse the ATS, lose information and cost you the chance for an interview. A plain resume is best. Instead of tables, graphics, or columns, use bolding and indentation. Instead of using the header and footer, accept the fact that your resume may be 2 pages, which is absolutely fine according to current industry standards.


Don't Try to Beat the ATS


While the previous section discussed steps to take so your resume isn't negatively impacted by the ATS, this section is going to explain why you shouldn't try to go so far as to "beat" the ATS by regurgitating the job description.


Keep in mind that after the resume gets read by the ATS, it will be evaluated by a human being. The person reviewing the resumes is the one that makes a decision about which candidates to call in for an interview, not the ATS. So, your resume needs to be written with that in mind. If you copy and paste the entire job description into your resume, the person reviewing it will not be impressed.


Instead, highlight key words in the job posting by including them within your descriptive and detailed bullet points.


If your resume is getting overlooked, you may benefit from one of our educational programs where we cover the above topics in detail and provide specific examples. To learn more about our educational programs click here. If you would like Revision Resume to assist you with a resume creation or a resume critique, contact us.


Seeking details on how to create a quality resume? Click here.





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