Are you sending out resumes like crazy but still hearing crickets? Hate to break it to you, but it might not be the job market; it just might be you. While you may very well be the world’s greatest employee, it’s possible you’re basically waving giant red flags at recruiters and HR managers with your resume, cover letter or online presence (or lack thereof). Here are eight reasons you may never get that interview (and a few tips for making things better).
1. Comic Sans
Or any terrible font or design element on your resume, for that matter. While your curriculum vitae should have some personality, it still needs to look professional. So skip the clip art and cartoonish typefaces, and opt for something a little more streamlined—while keeping in mind your industry, of course.
2. That party pic-filled public Facebook profile
You may think that only your friends can see the pictures of you doing keg stands and burping the entire alphabet, but it’s worth checking your privacy settings while you’re in the midst of a job search (even though burping the alphabet is pretty impressive). And if you don’t think HR managers look you up on Facebook before even reading your resume, think again.
3. You don’t have any online presence.
It’s 2018. Where are you? While you don’t want anything too negative to pop up, it’s great to have some sort of positive public presence on the web when job hunting. If you don’t come up in a Google search—or if someone with your same name does—make sure you have a website listed on your resume, or at the very least, a link to your well-populated LinkedIn profile.
4. You’re under-qualified.
I commend you for having the balls to apply for a job you’re not quite qualified for (hell, I’ve done it more than once). And if you’re going to do it, make sure you have at least some experience in the industry, and be sure to explain why you are qualified (and how much you just love to learn new things) in your cover letter.
5. You’re overqualified.
While the job market isn’t terrible, it’s not exactly great either. And if an HR manager or employer notices you’re overqualified for a position, they’re probably going to pass you over because they’re not likely going to be able to pay you what you’re really worth. Plus, they don’t want you to get bored and leave after a few months.
6. You used a template for your cover letter, and it shows.
Whether you’re applying for a creative position or not, if you want to stand out in any industry, you need to get a little creative with your cover letter. No, don’t open with a knock-knock joke. But yes, do something that’s going to grab the HR manager’s attention right away. Open with a brief story of how you solved a big problem at a previous job, or share an unusual fact about yourself that makes you uniquely qualified for this one.
7. Your job history resembles your Tinder history.
If you’ve hopped from job to job, recruiters might think you don’t have much staying power (and they might be right). And no one wants to invest in a new employee who’s only going to stick around a few months. Perhaps it’s time to look into consulting? Or try to find a way to stay where you are for a while, even if it’s not so great. It will make job searching easier down the road.
8. Your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dude, it’s time to get a grown-up email address. They’re free! So, maybe JohnDenver@gmail.com is taken, but if you’re a designer, try JohnDenverDesign@gmail.com, or something similar (with apologies to the two professionals who probably already have these email addresses).
Photo: Getty Images/PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou