If you’re sending out resume after resume and you aren’t yet fielding a barrage of interview invitations, you may be wondering what’s wrong. In our current economy, a few dozen well-targeted and well-timed resume submissions should start to yield at least some positive stirrings from employers within a few weeks. If you’ve spent months submitting resumes and you haven’t heard a peep, it may be time to worry. Or more accurately, it may be time to change your strategy. Start by reviewing your profile to see if you’re inadvertently sending out some of these red flags.

One tiny error, magnified.

One misspelled word or one line of non-customized text can be a small issue when you’re sending a resume to a single employer. But if you’ve sent out the last fifty submissions with the same undiscovered and uncorrected problem, that’s no good at all. Your magnified, repeated error might explain your comparatively low response rate. Don’t beat yourself up; fix it and keep moving forward.

Irrelevant experience.

It’s a good idea—and a time saver—to create a template resume and make minor adjustments for every submission. But skim over each submission before sending to make sure you’re highlighting the past jobs and experience most relevant to that specific job. This may mean cutting, pasting and rearranging your past positions for each submission to bring the relevant jobs to the top. It can also mean removing a non-relevant job from this submission and inserting it back in again for the next one.

Missed keyword opportunities.

Each time you send a cover letter, including the EXACT job title in the first paragraph of your message. Don’t misspell, misstate or omit the title, since this can mean exclusion from an employer keyword search. Include the title (word for word) and if possible, mention the top two or three skill sets that seem most important to the employer, based on your reading of the job post. Again, include them word for word.

Critical omissions.

Before you apply to any job, always make sure you read the post carefully and follow every instruction. Just one missing item can leave you out of the running for technical reasons. These decisions aren’t usually personal, they’re just a matter of policy, or they reflect how the company’s submission system is designed. If you leave one key line blank or forget to attach a requested document, your application may not make it to the starting line.

For more on how to make sure your resume hits the mark, turn to the Milwaukee job search and career management pros at Extension, Inc.


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