(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY The hiring process is frustrating because it's so opaque. You might get all the way through in-person interviews, only to be told they decided to go another direction -- but you never get direct feedback about why. (Though I recently rounded up the most common reasons Lifehacker and Job Tips for Geeks, here are some critical reasons why you're not getting the calls you think you deserve..) Even worse, you can mail dozens of resumes and never get so much as a follow-up. Why isn't anyone nibbling? Thanks to
You're not submitting your resume to the right people. Don't send unsolicited resumes to generic HR email addresses. Chances are, no one but a keyword scraper script ever sees anything sent to that electronic slush pile. Your best bet is to reply to specific job postings and to send the resume to real, live people -- such as friends or acquaintances at the company who can get your resume to the right folks.
You cut and pasted your cover letter. I frequently get cover letters from applicants who clearly have put no effort into their submission -- the letter says little more than "I read your job posting on _____. I was very excited to learn that your company _____ is hiring a ______." Indeed, the cover letter sometimes also lists a bunch of generic experience that could apply to literally any job, rather than to the specific one I've posted. If you can't show me how you are a good fit for my opening, I immediately move on to the next resume.
You don't know what you're worth. If the application asks you to specify your salary requirements and you enter something too high or too low, it's game over. Know the industry range for the role you're applying for. Saying that you desire a salary that's half the norm means you are almost certainly unqualified for the role; that's as good of an indicator as anything your resume might say. By the same token, unless you're specifically asked about your salary requirements, keep your mouth shut.
You didn't follow the directions. Carefully read the instructions in the job listing and actually follow them to the letter. Not only is it annoying for the HR rep or hiring manager to discover that a possibly promising candidate didn't include something important, or submitted it in an incompatible file format, but some companies use these submission instructions as something of a test to make sure you can follow instructions to begin with.
Your resume is too long. If you're young and have only had a couple of jobs, your resume should fit on a page. More experienced careerists should craft two page resumes; three on the outside. Regardless of your level of experience or number of Nobel prizes, if your resume exceeds three pages, you're doing it wrong. Assume no one will read your resume and you'll never get the look you need for an interview offer.
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