5 Reasons Why Your Resume Bombed


SAN MATEO, CA - JUNE 07:  Resumes sit in a bas...
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Good morning, job seekers! You know the drill.

Wake up, get some coffee, grab a bite to eat, fire up the computer and check your email.  If you are like most people, your inbox is already crammed with messages; some important, but most are junk, ads or spam.

Today, searching for a new job online entails sending out several (perhaps hundreds) of resumes. This is based on the idea that casting a wide net will reel in the “big fish”—eventually.

What usually happens is this…

Nothing.

Not the bite of the big fish. Not even a nibble by a guppy.

Now, consider the employer. HR departments and recruiters receive vast numbers of resumes every day; email inboxes are always filled with messages from hopeful applicants. And like your morning routine, most of the messages are unnecessary.

In addition, the hiring staff usually takes about 10 seconds to scan the average resume. This leaves them with little time to decide which resumes to call, and which ones to pass.  Choosing resumes that make it to the next level means matching the job to the applicant; all of this happens in an instant.

So why didn’t yours make the cut? Five reasons why your resume probably bombed:

  • Less than a 75 percent match to the job description.

Why 75 percent? To make an impression on a busy HR department, applicants should have more than a few of the skills necessary to do the job. The 75 percent number means that a particular candidate can do the job, but they also have some room to develop and grow.

Those candidates with 100 percent match often has performed the same job in the past—and they probably don’t want to do it again. They are searching to move up, or are searching for an area that offers additional challenges. These applicants regularly fall into the dreaded “overqualified” category.

When applying, target jobs that you are three-quarters capable of doing, and demonstrate a capacity to adapt to manage the rest.

  • Less than 99 percent of the absolute minimal requirements for the job.

If the job description says “bilingual,” one year of highschool  Spanish simply will not cut it.  Even feeling “pretty sure” that you can do the basic requirements of the job—resist the desire to apply. This is especially true for language skills.

Overstating requirements on a resume are a common pitfall. When it comes to specific skills listed on a job post, either you have it or you don’t.

  • The geography is wrong.

Applying to a job in another city, state or country is difficult at best. The candidate may include all the requisite skills and training, but if they are not near, the job process slows down to a crawl. An applicant must be available for an in-person interview with little notice, or be willing to make the trip.

Of course, not every company looks for local candidates. If that is the case, the company will make that clear upfront. However, for hiring out-of-state, candidates must have the right stuff—stellar qualifications, experience and willingness to pick up and go to a new location.

  • Obviously under or overqualified.

Yes, the job market is demanding, and competition has never been fiercer. That still doesn’t suggest that applicants with higher degrees are going to obtain entry-level jobs. Would you like to start at the bottom after all the work getting an advanced education?

Applying to be CEO of the company will not work either. Having potential is worthwhile, but the bigger a jump from where you are to the job opening can be a chance that few companies are willing to take.

  • It just doesn’t feel right.

Applying for jobs in what you see as a tedious business or organization is a waste of time—for the candidate, the HR department, the recruiter and the company. Doubt is also a serious red flag and can destroy an applicant’s chances quickly. If you are not 100 percent sure about the job or business, then don’t target something you obviously do not want.

Sending out resume “blasts” to hundreds of employers is a common strategy, but in a competitive job market, targeting specific employers—ones where you can display the right combination of motivation, qualifications and enthusiasm—will bring much higher rates of return.

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