You have years of experience, a great degree, but you can’t get as much as an interview for a new job. Your resume may be the reason why.
You can have all the skills and credentials – and be the best person for the job – but your resume could be filtered out before the hiring manager has a chance to read it. Most companies receive hundreds of applications for every job they post, and it would not be easy or efficient to read each and every one. Companies use two different types of quick filtering to make the job easier.
Many companies will use automated programs to filter resumes without even taking a look at them. Here are some things that won’t get through the filter:
1. Wrong File Format: Make sure to check if the company requests a particular file format for resumes. If the company does not request one then a PDF is the most universally accepted format. You can find a free PDF writer here.
2. No Name in Filename: Make sure to have your name in the filename. If it is generic and has no name then it may be automatically sorted out. This is because it would be exceedingly difficult to remember which ‘resume.pdf’ goes with each person.
3. No Keywords: Make sure to include keywords appropriate for your industry, but only in a manner that makes sense and does not look like keyword stuffing. While having a lot of keywords in the resume may get you past the automatic programs it may cause you to get filtered out when the hiring manager reviews it.
The next step is a manual review by either the human resources team or the hiring manager. At this point it’s likely there are still lots of resumes to sort through. The manager or HR team will look for a few resume mistakes to further filter out job applicants:
1. Bad Layout and Formatting: If the formatting looks horrible then the resume may be sorted out during the manual review. Poor formatting includes small font, unorganized structure, or too much white space. Your resume should be easy to read and the eye should naturally be drawn to the most important sections.
2. Overly Creative: While you want your resume to stand out, it still needs to look professional. Loud colors, awkward layouts, or too many graphics can send a resume right off the table. Keep it professional and focus on readability over creativity (unless the position you’re applying for is an ultra-creative role. In these cases, creativity trumps structure).
3. Too Long: If a resume is too long then it could automatically be sorted out. A four or five-page resume does not show that you are overqualified; it shows that you have difficulty succinctly getting your point across. Keep your resume to one or two pages in length to ensure the entire resume can be read within a reasonable amount of time.
4. Unorganized: The manager’s eyes should be drawn to the important parts of the resume and should be able to pick out the information he or she needs easily. Use headings to outline the important sections of the resume, and keep the most important information at the top and bottom of the first page. These are the areas most likely to be looked at by the manager.
If your resume makes it past these two filters, you’re likely to get called for an interview, which is the primary purpose of your resume. So check your resume for any of these mistakes to make sure you’re not getting filtered out.