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3 Reasons You're Not Getting Callbacks

Woman sitting with cell phone in hands
If you have been getting complete silence after all your job applications, you may need to fix your resume.

I hear the question all the time from clients, “Why am I not getting callbacks?” If you are in the same boat your frustration probably surmounts when you turn in application after application just to receive dead silence. You may start to doubt your experience, qualifications, education and anything else that makes you a good candidate for the job at hand. However, more often than not, when you don’t hear back from anyone, the problem is not you, but your resume. You may ask, “How can this be? My resume is a representation of me!” Well, as an expert resume writer with over six years of experience, the answer is simple to me. But without industry insight you may be left wondering. I have listed a few short answers as to why you are not getting call backs from your resume and applications.


The first thing you need to understand is that it all starts with an automated system. The majority of Human Resource departments use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to find the right candidates for jobs. This means that your resume is scanned by software to look for specific qualifications. If these qualifications are found on your resume, then your resume will move on to the next step in the process. Easy, right?

The process gets complicated when you have to consider what exact keywords are used for the specific job you are trying to qualify for. One company may use the term “administrative operations” to describe the secretary work you did while another company might use “administrative support.” If you don’t have the exact terms they are looking for included in your resume, you simply will appear to be unqualified.

The very first thing that can go wrong, and that I see all too often is a lack of words. Some applicants only use a quick sentence to describe each job they have worked at. Others use up to four bullet points, but they are all skimpy and say very little. A small word count on your resume will only lead to a lack of keywords on your resume.


When it comes to the words on your resume you may also be using the wrong terminology. If your resume is full of jargon from your old job, you can count on missing keywords. This is also a common problem for people looking to make a career change. People exiting the military and looking to transition to civilian life face the same problem as well.


If you are looking to make a career change you may be lacking the exact qualifications for the job you are applying to. If you simply don’t have the experience the job posting is asking for you will more than likely not get the position. Someone who is more qualified than you will be selected as the best candidate. I see a lot of passionate people that fall victim to this dilemma. They have an interest, have done volunteer work associated with said job, or feel that they may be a good fit and can justify it. In all honesty, these things are probably true. The person at hand would probably knock it out of the park and be productive. This is especially true when the person has a track record for success and adding quality to their teams and departments. But, in our current job market, hiring officers receive a wealth of applicants and are looking for ways to eliminate unqualified candidates.

If you are set on a specific job outside of your current expertise there are ways to move in that direction. The best plan of action is to look for an internship or volunteer position. This can be easy if you are part of an education program that provides assistance. But for the average job seeker this may look impossible. What will I do about income, you ask? Well, even finding a position you can work for six to 9 weeks after work or on weekends may payoff in the long run. The truth is, you need to have some kind of experience listed on your resume to justify your position as qualified for the job at hand in this market. It doesn’t mean you need to be an expert, you just need to have the knowledge. Secondly, a track record of success is a great springboard. Even though your entire resume may not reveal the keywords, showing that you are excellent as a problem solver, hard worker, or a true contributor can be enough to peak a hiring professional’s attention (once the resume makes it through the scan).


Once your resume makes it through the ATS it will end up in the hands of someone that will scan it for about six seconds to determine if they want to interview you or not. If your resume is hard to read, jumbled, outdated or simply not attractive, you have less of a chance at getting an interview. The information has to be organized in a way that is easy to scan and pick up the necessary info quite quickly. Having an attractive format can make all the difference. Simply using a free template won’t cut it.


This may seem like a lot of issues to fix before getting an interview. The best thing to do is to look over your resume and determine which problem you are facing. From there you can make the necessary changes. If you have 15 years of experience and your resume is only one page long, you can be certain that there aren’t enough words for the ATS to pick up the necessary keywords. If you are looking for a career change you may have a few things to tweak. And, if your resume includes more than two fonts and different sized bullets the problem is more than likely your formatting.

The Take Away:


A great way to get your resume into shape is to receive a free critique from a expert resume writer. You are welcome to give me a call and email me your resume for a free critique. Sitting down for a consultation to have your resume written is another option as well! You can take a look at examples of custom written resumes that have earned previous clients the interviews they needed to land jobs.

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