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The 5 Biggest Reasons Resumes Get Rejected by Employers

You worked so hard on your resume.

Hours were dedicated to tinkering and tailoring every aspect. You rewrote sections to make them more relevant to the role for which you applied, and you think you provided enough detail to make yourself sound like a great candidate. But none of it worked. Your resume was rejected and, at worst, the employer didn’t even tell you about the rejection.

It’s a heartbreaking experience that you don’t want to repeat. That’s why you need to know the five biggest reasons employers reject resumes so you can get a top rated resume written that actually lands you an interview.

image with a man pulling his hair out because his resume got rejected

Reason 1 – You Haven’t Accounted for ATS Systems

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are everywhere.

Over 95% of Fortune 500 companies use them, along with 89% of larger enterprises. They’re even creeping their way into small and medium-sized businesses, with 35% using ATS to weed out unsuitable candidates before any resumes ever land in front of a hiring manager.

These automated systems scan every resume an employer receives for the keywords that are in the job description for the role for which you apply. If your resume doesn’t contain those keywords, you don’t get through this screening process. The ATS – rightly or wrongly – assumes you didn’t tailor your resume to the role and a human never actually looks at your credentials.

The Solution

Use keywords.

Read the job description carefully to look for specifics that an employer needs to see in your resume. For instance, a budding software developer should ensure that any programming languages mentioned in the job description are in their resume, along with terms like “agile” and “sprint.”

Reason 2 – You Didn’t Discuss Your Achievements

Let’s assume you get past the ATS, and a hiring manager sees your resume. If they don’t see specifics about what you achieved in your previous roles, that resume is going straight into the trashcan. This is a trap that many applicants fall into. Rather than discussing their achievements, they focus on their responsibilities in their past roles.

Hiring managers already know what these responsibilities are.

If all you have to offer is a recitation of what your old jobs entailed, you won’t stand out from the many other candidates applying for the role.

The Solution

Get specific about what you achieved in your previous roles. For instance, a team supervisor should talk about numbers. How many people did they lead? What projects did they oversee to completion? By how much did they improve productivity, customer satisfaction rates, or similar metrics? Those are all achievements showing that you not only understand what the role entails but can excel in that role.

orange background with an image of a resume being scanned by a magnifying glass with the words "So, What Does A Recruiter Look For In A Resume?".

Reason 3 – Your Resume Is Too Generic

In a simpler world, you’d be able to get away with writing one resume before sending that document out to dozens of companies.

That’s not how applying for jobs works in the 21st century. A generic resume will make you seem unspectacular at best and will be discarded immediately at worst. The stats back this statement up, too. Almost two-thirds (63%) of recruiting specialists say that they want to see some level of personalization in a resume before they’ll consider somebody for a role.

The Solution

Much like with the ATS issue, a focus on the job’s description is key to personalizing your resume. Have two words on your mind as you write – “keep” and “chop.”

Keep anything that’s relevant to the role, such as your work with a specific programming language if it’s mentioned in the job description. As for “chop,” that applies to anything that isn’t relevant to the job. A hiring manager isn’t going to care about the summer you spent waiting tables as a student if you’re applying for a project management role, for example.

Reason 4 – Spelling and Formatting Mistakes

The less professional your resume looks, the more likely a hiring manager is to bypass you for somebody who looks like they put more effort into the document.

Typos and formatting errors are two of the most obvious signs of a lack of care taken in your writing. Around 40% of hiring managers say they’ll immediately disqualify a candidate from consideration if they see a spelling error. As for formatting, walls of text, mismatched fonts, and a lack of structure in your resume all make it harder to read. Given that you only have a few seconds to make a first impression with your resume, anything that makes it seem like a chore to read will count against you.

The Solution

Proofread, proofread, and then proofread again. When you’ve done that, run the resume through a grammar tool – such as Grammarly – to ensure there’s nothing you’ve missed. The key is not to rush the resume. Take a break after writing it before coming back to check with a clear mind.

image with the words job search with graduation cap, magnifying glass, and resume

Reason 5 – Adding Fluff

Though it’s generally accepted that a resume should consist of one or two pages, getting so locked into the idea of it being a certain length can lead to fluff.

What is fluff?

Any words that don’t deliver something worthwhile to the hiring manager are fluff. For example, phrases like “results-oriented” or “good team player” don’t really say anything. There’s nothing solid behind those phrases that a hiring manager can latch onto to see that you’re a worthwhile candidate.

The Solution

It’s all about the details.

For instance, rather than writing “good team player,” expand on what you achieved in a team environment. Perhaps you came up with an idea that increased the collective’s productivity, or you were responsible for a specific task in the team that needed to be completed to bring a project to its conclusion.

If you don’t have a lot of details to add – as may be the case if you’re a recent graduate or new to the world of work – don’t make things up. Be honest about your lack of experience and focus on achievements in your scholastic life, especially those that apply to the role.

Don’t Give Recruiters a Reason to Reject You

When a recruiter rejects you because you’re not right for the role, that’s an easy pill to swallow. But when they reject you because your resume doesn’t showcase what makes you a good fit, that’s entirely on you and is much harder to take.

Rather than putting yourself in that position – and all the disappointment that comes with it – don’t give recruiters a reason to reject your resume. Get a professionally written resume from the team at Expert Resume Pros and you’ll land in an interview within 45 days or get your money back.

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