The top 3 reasons why you aren’t getting called back – and how to fix them

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You’ve been diligently sending out applications but you aren’t getting called back. This can be a frustrating experience. Here are the top 3 reasons why this may be happening and how to fix them.

1. Your résumé

Believe it or not, the look and feel of your résumé is almost as important as the content. If your résumé is too long, if the layout looks too DIY or if it contains spelling/grammatical errors, these can be reasons why your résumé is being overlooked.

Your résumé is the first impression hiring managers and HR professionals have of you. I’ve sat across from hiring managers who have literally pulled out a red pen and began correcting a prospective candidate’s résumé. Similarly, if I knew a hiring manager’s tastes well, many résumés never even made it that far. For example, one hiring manager I worked with expressed exasperation when he saw a résumé that was longer than four pages, so I stopped presenting long résumés to him unless the experience was perfect and I could justify it.

The Fix: Have three to five people review your résumé

If you suspect your résumé may look less than stellar, check out my articles New year, new résumé and 5 things to avoid on your résumé to self-correct any possible issues.

Then, share your résumé with three to five individuals in your entourage to gather as diverse feedback as possible. It’s even better if one of more of these people is familiar with hiring. You want your résumé to appeal to a broad audience. Also, by having several people share their feedback with you, you may notice patterns emerging that you would not have seen if there were only one reviewer. If you have more than one person commenting on the same area of concern, I would recommend heeding their advice.

2. You are under/overqualified

This is a common reason why many candidates don’t get called back. Sometimes when a hiring manager has a spot to fill on their team, they have a specific vision of who they want filling that spot. There are other times when a hiring manager will have more flexibility to dial the job up or scale it back if they like a candidate whose experience isn’t a perfect fit. This varies based on the situation and is unfortunately not something that a candidate can control.

What a candidate can control, however, are “Hail Mary” applications, meaning applying to jobs that are out-of-scope relative to their experience.

The Fix: Be selective about your applications

Favour quality over quantity. It can feel satisfying to send a bunch of résumés or to tell your friends and family how many applications you have sent. It can also reinforce a sense of accomplishment to send applications daily. Remember that a job search is as much about the process as it is about the result. If you set an objective like “I will send 3 applications per day”, you aren’t necessarily getting closer to legitimately hitting your target – it’s just busy work. In this case, you want to work smarter, not harder. Check out my article Being selective in your job search for some thoughts on what you should consider before applying to a company.

3. You “job hop”

Past actions predict future behaviour. If your tenure at your last few jobs have been for one year or less, you could fall in the dreaded category of “job hopper” which unfortunately makes your candidacy less desirable for permanent jobs. Hiring managers and HR professionals value stability because worklife isn’t perfect. Companies and teams sometimes go through rough patches. If you appear to be someone who jumps ship at the first sign of trouble, hiring managers may be reticent to interview you.

The Fix: Think outside the box

My first recommendation may sound a little odd coming from a recruiter, but scrap your current job search if you have been at your company less than a year and you were at your previous job for a year or less. You risk mortgaging your future and there is no promise the grass will be greener at a new company.

I wrote an article “Am I in the right job?” . The main reason why some people are happy in their job is because they actively curate their career. If you find yourself job hopping, I am willing to hazard a guess that it’s a feeling that you are looking for that isn’t currently being met. You could be looking to feel successful, to feel appreciated, to feel talented or a combination of different feelings. By breaking down the details of your current job, it can help you to target which responsibilities generate the feelings you desire most. Focus on giving your all in these responsibilities and be sure to meet your other objectives. This may help you to make your job more enjoyable for now. It may also be wise to consult with a career advisor, because you could be that you’re in the wrong career and the job hopping behaviour is a symptom something larger. If you are in fact in the right career, wait until you have been at your job for at least a year and a half before resuming your job search. Be extremely selective about where you interview and do not accept a job you aren’t excited about.

My second recommendation is to embrace the job hopping and become a temp worker or a consultant. Traditional roles aren’t for everyone and some people enjoy career satisfaction by being free agents. I wrote an article a while back The benefits of a temporary job where I share some thoughts about the advantages of going off the beaten path.

Hopefully this has been able to give you some insights if you are not been getting called back when you send job applications. If you’re all clear, remember that sometimes the best thing comes to those who wait. Keep at it and stay positive.