Why Your Resume May Have Fallen into the “Black Hole”

Note: This is the first of two posts about why you may not be getting a call back at various stages of the job searching process. Tune in next week for part two, “I Did Everything Right. Why Didn’t I Get The Job?”

The resume “black hole”: chances are, if you’re job searching, you’ve heard of this term or at least have experienced its meaning. Many job seekers have had the misfortune of submitting their resume to a position they’re excited about and, aside from never getting a chance to interview, never receiving a response at all. There are few things more frustrating than radio silence on the employer’s end of a potential opportunity, especially after you’ve followed all the rules and followed up after some time has passed.

However, the job market is competitive enough that most employers can’t respond to every application, and many are less likely to offer a courtesy response if a candidate has made blaring mistakes on their resume. There are also many things out of an applicant’s control in the job search process, but if you aren’t getting any call backs whatsoever, it may be due to a mistake on your part.

The likely issue: your resume isn’t up to par.

A resume’s number one objective is to speak directly to the position the candidate is applying for, yet many still make the mistake of firing out a generic CV with each application. Instead, try tailoring your resume to the position, utilizing the most valuable real estate—such as the skills section and the very top of your employment history—to list anything relevant to the job at hand. Likewise, if your employment history focuses solely on listing your daily duties, rather than bringing to light specific achievements and outcomes you were directly responsible for, you could be missing out on a chance to impress the employer into offering an interview. The employer wants to know: did you punch in and out every day and routinely perform those duties you listed, or did you go above and beyond and make measurable changes at the company you worked for?

Another possibility is that the format and/or quality of the resume itself may need work. Maybe you are tweaking your CV for each application, but you’re leaving in grammatical or spelling errors. Even the most scrupulous of job applicants can miss a small slip-up here or there, especially when  continuously rearranging content to match job listings. Therefore, it’s important to always give a resume a once-over—no matter how many times you’ve read through it already—before submitting it to a position. If you’re having a hard time reading through it one more time, try an old proofreader’s trick: hold a ruler up under each line so you can focus on every word rather than speeding up and scanning sentences or even entire sections as a whole.

Lastly, make sure you’re using enough keywords to make your resume relevant in applicant tracking systems, but not cluttering your resume with cliché terms and gimmicky phrases. For more information on this, refer to our article on  How to Construct a Recruiter-Friendly Resume.

Or: it isn’t your resume at all

Of course, it could very well be that your resume is in tip-top shape, and yet you’re still not receiving any calls. In that case, what could the issue be?

It’s possible that the problem isn’t with your resume, but rather your cover letter—or lack thereof. Unless a job specifies that no cover letter should be included or doesn’t provide an option for including one, it’s always good form to submit one along with your resume that’s also tailored to the position. Like your resume, if you’re submitting a general cover letter that doesn’t  speak directly about the position or your skills that apply to it, or if you’re submitting one that’s riddled with spelling and/or grammatical errors, you could be using an otherwise helpful tool in a way that works against you.

Another possibility—cue the sigh of relief—is that it’s actually not something you’re doing wrong. As mentioned above, certain things are simply out of a candidate’s control in the job search. Another candidate may have come along who the employer felt was a better fit, or perhaps the hiring manager felt you wouldn’t match up with the organization’s culture. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to thoroughly research a company prior to applying to make sure you’d mesh well—but if you’ve already done that and feel you’d be a great fit with that organization, it may be time to give your resume and cover letter another once-over.