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Why Didn't I Get An Interview?

When you're looking for a job, sending out resume after resume and not hearing anything back is one of the most frustrating experiences for people. It's almost worse than going on an interview and not being selected because at least in those situations you can think about the interview and realize the areas you may have come up short in and can even get feedback on why you weren't selected (if you know the right question to ask at the end of the interview…hint.. the question is “Is there anything I've said today or lacking in my experience that makes you think I'm not the best candidate for this role?” Hiring Managers won't always answer with great detail, but when they do you'll know where you stand.

But, back to the “black hole” of applying for jobs online. You may have seen one of my other posts “How To Review A Resume in 10 Seconds” It's about how people tasked with reviewing resumes can do it quickly (obviously!). Thanks goes out to Kevin for making a joke in the comments about hoping that people take more than 10 seconds to review his whole career! Which got me thinking. I realized the real question is “Why Didn't I Get Selected For An Interview? So, I'm going to do my best here to share why you may not have made it past the initial resume review to first interview.

First things first (these are the questions they are looking to answer in the 10 second review)

Location: Do you live in a commutable distance from the jobs location? If not, you're likely to be excluded immediately. Willing to relocate for it? Most jobs don't offer a relocation package, so if you're willing to pay to relocate yourself and family, be sure to include it on your resume contact information. Otherwise, don't be surprised if you don't get a call back from an area you'd like to move to.

Title: Does your past work experience and titles line up with the role you applied for? If you're applying for an outside sales role and the closest you've come to sales is customer service, it's probably too big of a leap for them to consider for a role they need someone to hit the ground running on. Also, there are probably several if not many candidates with the right work experience that will push you further down the line of consideration. Or maybe you are starting to feel desperate and starting to apply for jobs that are beneath you? Companies typically don't want to hire someone who they fear is going to be looking to get back where they were (either in compensation or position) in a year or two. It may not feel fair, but it's a real concern hiring managers have.

Products + Channels: There are many different types of businesses, types of customers, and types of products. If it's a role that industry knowledge and connections matters for you may be removed from consideration simply because you don't have the right knowledge. In the case of building products, if you can't read blueprints and do a take-off and apply for a sales job to builders and contractors, most of my clients wouldn't consider you. If you're not in building products or construction you probably don't know what a take-off is.

Past Success: Chances are your resume is way more about “what” you did, than “how well” you did it. I've been preaching this for years, and I'm still surprised how many resumes look like a copy and paste of their job description. Hiring Managers are much more interested in how well you did it than just a listing of what you did. Quantifiable results (like improved sales from 93% to plan to 104% to plan in just 6 months) are the best, and if you can't remember if it's 93 or 94% don't stress about it, if you can't recall the exact amount, it's unlikely a recruiter or hiring manager can. Just be sure you're telling the truth on your resume, because if the hiring manager is following my interviewing advice they're going to try to get you into a deeper dialogue about that success – and if you lied, they'll know. But, don't exclude it if you're not sure of a small detail. Also, if you're not in an easily quantifiable role like sales, use awards or recognition of success. To make your successes and achievements easy to spot on your resume (because, remember, they're skimming it, not reading it (harsh, but also true) use bold and italics to draw attention to key highlights.

Visual Appeal: The reality is you're being judged. We assume this is you putting your “best foot forward” and that you're trying to impress us. If your resume is all the same size font, if it appears to be a copy and paste of your job description, if it has typos (watch out for detail-oriented, if I see that spelled wrong, I get the giggles and it's pretty much over from there.) That being said…if your resume is a disaster, but I see companies and job titles that I know make you a good match, I'm going to give you a call.

I hope this helps. If you're feeling like, great now I know what NOT to do, how to find out what I should be doing? I created a couple of programs to answer this question (because, you're not the first person to wonder about these things!)

How To Write A Resume That Works: An online course with video trainings, templates, examples, and a step-by-step guide on how to “pick your own brain” to find the gold in your background that will make you stand out from the competitors.

Interview Questions and How To Answer Them: I take 25 (or so, I can't remember right now!) common interview questions and tell you what the interview is looking for in your answer and how to think about your past experience to craft a great answer – not a canned answer. Because people like me who do a lot of interviews aren't interested in hearing the same generic answers in every interview book. We actually want to hear things that are unique and special to you.

If you're interested in these programs email We're currently moving our online courses, so I'll include a link once everything is moved and updated!

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