The Reason You're Missing Out On Jobs (Part One)
We don't blame you for wondering 'is it me?' after you are rejected from your 75th job application. You know you shouldn't take it personally. You tell yourself that it's just business, but seriously; you're really starting to wonder what on earth is going on. We feel you! It's awful to be rejected from even just one job when you've put a lot of effort into applying, so if you're still getting nowhere after your 5th, 6th, 7th + application; you can't help but feel a tad defeated!
Let us help you get to the bottom of things! The first thing to be aware of is exactly where in the application pipeline you are being rejected. What do we mean? Well, if you're sending off your CV and cover letter and getting rejected shortly thereafter, the issue is likely with your CV and/or cover letter. If you're getting to interview stage and being rejected after the interview, it's likely something could be going on at the face-to-face (of face-to- Zoom/Skype screen) stage.
In this months blog, we have created a 'potential reasons for rejection at CV/cover letter stage' checklist, so grab your CV and cover letter and go through each point highlighting the things that might be true for you. Next month we will look into the reasons you might have missed out on a role after the interview (which can almost feel worse/more personal than being rejected at CV stage, because they have actually met you!)
NOTE: We hope you came here for honesty as we're not holding back! As we are not your potential employers, we certainly won't be giving you weak, polite excuses like "There were other applicants whose experience aligned more closely with this opportunity" *Eye roll* Don't get us wrong; sometimes this reason is truthful, and some employers and recruiters ARE brutally honest, which, as hard as it might be to hear, at least gives you something tangible to work on. We're guessing if you're here reading this, that you DON'T know why your applications are being rejected though, so let's push on!
IF YOUR APPLICATION FAILED AT CV/COVER LETTER STAGE:
Is your CV 2-3 pages in length? (Longer or shorter and you could have an issue. There is a reason 2-3 pages is the sweet spot, so if you're rocking 7 pages, we need to talk! Either your formatting and layout are bad, or you have simply included way too much unnecessary information - more often than not it's a combination of both!)
Are your details correct (Phone number, address, email, LinkedIn link)
Is your CV evidence-based? (i.e. You have given examples of your stated expertise in action by listing achievements from at least your current and prior role)
Have you proofread and edited your CV and cover letter thoroughly to ensure there are no spelling/grammar errors? (Employers state time after time that this is the biggest factor that makes them deny applications as they see candidates as careless and sloppy)
You have a good mix of hard and soft skills mentioned throughout your CV (Soft skills or personality traits like dependable, hardworking, and creative can only get you so far, and these things are much harder to prove on paper. You need to mention hard skills MORE than soft skills and then remember to back them up with examples!)
Have you included too much personal information in your CV and cover letter that simply doesn't belong on a CV (information about why you left your last job, your health issues, your children, your marriage/divorce, your sick parent, your old boss... Please leave this sort of information off your CV and speak to us about how to navigate something that may have kept you out of work for a long time)
Is your CV information in the right order? (i.e. Is everything employers/recruiters need to see visible at first glance or do they have to dig through to page three to find things?)
Is your cover letter one page long? (Any longer is just too long, so you'll need to work on shortening this down to one page)
Is the design and layout of your CV sleek, modern, clean, and professional (i.e. can you read the font? Are your headings clearly defined? Is your CV laid out in obvious sections or does the whole thing look like a short story at first glance? Make use of tables and text boxes if you need to lay your information out in a way that maximises white space)
Are you sending off your CV to employers as a Word document? (That could be the issue right there as Word docs are notoriously fussy across computers, so you're best to save your Word document as a PDF and send this more stable file through with your applications)
Have you included too much irrelevant information (i.e. If you're applying for a Health and Safety Manager role, you don't need to include the aromatherapy course you completed in 2003)
Are you over or underqualified for the role? (Aiming way too high or way too low can be an instant disqualifier. To make a big leap in either direction, you not only need to focus on your transferrable skills, but we suggest you also enlist a professional CV writer to start some honest dialogue about how you can achieve this large step up or down in your career. i.e., If you've made no effort to highlight how your skills and experience as a pastry chef link to working as a bank teller, then an employer is likely to think you've simply applied for the wrong job and they will instantly disregard your application)
Do your CV and cover letter contain keywords that align with the role at hand? (Use the job ad/description as your guide and get those words in there! You need to tailor your cover letter for each role, and it should be obvious why you are the right person for the job)
Is your cover letter all about what you can do for the employer? (i.e. You haven't mentioned why this job would be a good step for your career, but rather how your experience and expertise will benefit the company. Hot tip - Never make a job application about what an employer can do for you!)
Does your CV and/or cover letter contain fluffy words like passionate, loyal, honest or trustworthy? (We vote you remove these and replace them with words that will do more to highlight your skills concerning the role at hand. No employer wants to hire anyone who isn't already honest, etc. but simply stating these qualities on your CV and cover letter doesn't make them true. Stick to less nebulous words you can actually back up with evidence - like leadership, and relationship management)
They phoned your references and didn't like what they heard (Your best bet is to write 'Referees are available on request' so you have more control over potential employers contacting past employers. Plus, it's nice to be able to give your past managers a heads up that someone will be calling them, rather than them getting interrupted every time you send an application out! It is more courteous that way)
Your LinkedIn page is a disaster and doesn't match your CV (Don't include the link on your CV if you are going to send out applications when your LinkedIn profile is a state and needs loads of work or if you barely use it. If an employer can't see your profile recommendations and skill endorsements, what is the point?)
Your CV/cover letter (or LinkedIn page) is written using third-person language (No! Just no! There is never a good reason to write your personal, professional documents/text in the third person)
As you can see, there are so many reasons why your CV and cover letter might be causing your application to land in the 'no' pile! We hope you found this checklist helpful to identify and put out some of the fires that might be raging in your professional documents. If you need some assistance to fight these metaphorical fires, our best advice is to take advantage of our free CV appraisal service.
If you decide you do want to up your application game, please send your CV, cover letter, and/or LinkedIn page link through to us. We will take the time to review it and give you honest feedback about what is likely letting you down, as well as offering solutions to ensure you're putting your best foot forward at the application stage.