You’ve spent countless hours writing and re-writing your resume, creating targeted cover letters, tweaking your LinkedIn profile, and applying for your dream jobs. However, it’s been a while, and you haven’t heard back from any prospective employers, and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘why can’t I get an interview?’
If you’re not getting invited to interviews, don’t feel disheartened. While there may be some factors within your control, there are plenty of reasons why you might not be receiving job interviews through no fault of your own.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at
Common reasons people don’t get job interviews that you can control
Common reasons people don’t get job interviews that you can’t control
How to improve your chances of making it past the initial screening
Why am I not getting interviews? Factors in your control
There are several reasons you’re not getting any interview calls, and they can be broadly classified into two categories: controllable factors and uncontrollable factors.
If you’re not getting any interview calls due to reasons that could’ve been avoided with some extra diligence, such reasons fall within controllable factors. Some of the key controllable factors include the following:
You didn’t follow the job application instructions
Oftentimes, job postings contain a lot of information, and it’s possible to miss out on some key instructions mentioned in a job post. For example, a job post might require applicants to include their expected salary range in a cover letter, and you’ve not disclosed this information.
Your prospective employer is expecting you to follow their job posting instructions to the T, and failing to include crucial information might be a dealbreaker for them. For this reason, it’s important to read through the job posting carefully, make a checklist of all the requirements, and include all relevant information requested by the employer.
Why can't I get an interview: there are errors on your resume
In an era of advanced applicant tracking systems (ATS), streamlined hiring processes, and an ever-increasing demand for talented individuals across the board, there’s absolutely no room for typos in your resume. Before submitting your CV and cover letter for a job, make sure to thoroughly proofread your documents and fix any grammatical errors. You should also consider using a spell-checking software tool, such as Grammarly, to identify any typos in your documents.
You’re using a generic resume and cover letter
Creating a resume and cover letter is only the first step. The next logical step is to tailor your CV and cover letter for your target job. This means adding all job-specific keywords to make sure your resume makes it past the ATS and showcases your skills that align with the job posting.
If you’re not getting any interview calls, it might be because you’ve used a generic resume and cover letter that didn’t accurately convey your skills and competency for the job and failed to make it past the ATS.
You’re missing the accomplishments section in your resume
When you’re writing your resume, it’s important to remember that the recruiter or hiring manager won’t be too interested in reading about your day-to-day job activities. Instead, they would be more interested in learning what you’ve accomplished at that job. For example, if you’re applying for a sales job, your prospective employer would want to know how you drove sales at your job, how much of your quota did you achieve, and what systems/strategies did you implement to increase close rates.
Resumes that don’t include a section dedicated to key achievements at each job role often don’t make it past the initial screening, which explains why several job applicants don’t receive an interview call or email.
The job wasn’t the right fit for you
Sometimes, you might not receive an interview call because the job wasn’t the right fit for you. Some jobs require specialized education (such as law or accounting), extensive experience (such as a teaching job at a university), or other gatekeeper credentials that make it difficult to secure them. Although there are ways you can tailor your resume to showcase your interest and aptitude for such jobs, there’s no guarantee you’ll make it to the interview stage.
There’s a large unemployment gap in your resume
When it comes to full-time employment, organizations are typically on the lookout for candidates who want to stay for the long haul. For this reason, large unemployment gaps in a resume are a red flag for hiring managers. They’ll wonder why you didn’t work all this time and what you were up to.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can explain unemployment gaps in your resume. For starters, you can explain the gap and try to convince the hiring manager that the circumstances were beyond your control (for example, recovering from an injury or taking a break to focus on mental well-being). Alternatively, you can list the unemployment period as a job in its own right (for example, taking some time off to raise your children, relocating to a new country, learning a new skill, or completing your education).
You’ve switched too many jobs in the past
Closely tied with unemployment gaps is job hopping. If you haven’t worked anywhere for longer than a year, it’ll indicate to the hiring manager that you’re likely to quit shortly, which might explain why you didn’t get that coveted interview call. A good way to eliminate job hopping is to tweak your resume to deemphasize the number of times you’ve switched jobs.
Your social media activities are questionable
Your digital footprint is a key make-or-break factor for most recruiters out there. Be careful not to post any content on your social media that could jeopardize your employability (such as malicious information, slanderous content, or confidential business information about your previous employers). It’s also important to keep your LinkedIn up-to-date with relevant skills that showcase your core competencies.
A 2020 survey by The Harris Poll revealed that 71% of hiring managers in the United States believe that reviewing a candidate’s social media profile is one of the most effective ways to screen them and determine their suitability for the job.
Why am I not getting interviews?: Factors not in your control
Oftentimes, job applicants don’t receive an interview call due to reasons that they can’t do anything about. These uncontrollable factors can be difficult to decipher, but some of them include the following:
The job was put on hold
In the wake of economic uncertainty, budgetary issues, and other internal and external factors, sometimes a job post is put on hold indefinitely. For instance, when the COVID-19 pandemic became widespread and the work-from-home mandate was implemented, a lot of organizations had to put an immediate hiring freeze to cut costs, divert their budget towards virtual networking tools and platforms, and manage existing employees’ work schedules remotely.
The company decided to go in another direction
You might not be getting an interview call because the business has slowed and the company has decided that they no longer need someone to fill that job role. Hiring and training a new employee can be costly, which is one of the biggest reasons why the organization has decided to either not pursue the economic activities that necessitated the new job role or reorganize its existing resources to pursue those activities.
An internal candidate was hired
If an internal candidate has expressed interest in the job role and they have the necessary knowledge, skills, and technical proficiency to perform well, then there’s a strong chance you might not get an interview. As stated before, it’s easier to promote and/or repurpose an existing employee than hire someone from the outside.
Why I can't get an interview: a referral was hired
If you’re thinking to yourself, ‘why do some people get hired right away, but I can’t even get an interview,’ then here’s your answer. Professional referrals work like a charm, and they often place an applicant ahead of others. Imagine knowing someone in the organization who can put your resume on the hiring manager’s table instead of making it go through the ATS.
In the United States, employee referrals account for up to 40% of all new hires. The same study also suggests that more than 80% of employers think of employee referral programs as one of the best sources of new hires.
If you feel like you’re being passed over in favor of a referral, maybe it’s time you start focusing on getting a referral yourself. You can leverage your LinkedIn profile to connect and network with people in your field of interest and build the rapport that’s needed to land a referral. Other options include virtual coffee chats, Facebook job groups, and employment agencies.
You were overqualified for the job
Hey, it’s not your fault if you hold two master's degrees and have 20+ years of experience! But if you’re using those qualifications to apply for an entry-level job, think again. The flipside of the coin is that you might be underqualified for the job role. Whether you’re over or underqualified, you can use your cover letter to show your enthusiasm for the job, what you plan to bring to the table, and why you still want to apply for the job.
You need to relocate for the job
Unless the company specifies that they prefer out-of-town candidates, they’re willing to pay relocation costs, or that the job role is remote, applying for a job outside of your town may decrease your chances of securing the job. Most organizations prefer hiring a candidate in the same city and timezone as their office. Consider applying for a job in your region or relocate first and then apply for the job.
What can I do to land a job interview?
If you haven’t received an interview call despite applying to hundreds of jobs, don’t lose hope. Here are a few ways you can improve your chances of making it past the initial round of screening:
Research the company
Before applying for a job, go through the company’s profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. This preliminary research might provide you with a lot of useful insights, which will allow you to tailor your resume and cover letter accordingly. It will also allow you to determine whether the company is a good culture fit for you and whether the job is even worth applying to.
Carefully read the job description
One of the biggest most job applicants make is that they don’t spend enough time reading the job description. And this is why very few of them go on to the interview stage. Reading the job description helps you determine whether you’re a good fit for the job and if there are any special requirements you need to meet to apply for the job.
You don’t have to meet the job description verbatim to apply. In fact, according to Forbes, you should consider applying for a job role even if you meet 40% of the job requirements.
Apply as early as you can
Given the sheer volume of resumes each job posting receives, it becomes impossible for a hiring manager to go through each and every one of them. However, you should consider applying for the job at your earliest. This way, your resume will be compared against a smaller group of initial applicants, which can drastically improve your chances of getting an interview call - given your resume is tailored for the job. After all, the early bird gets the worm!
Review the LinkedIn profiles of the company’s employees
If there’s a particular company you want to work at, consider reviewing the LinkedIn profiles of some of its employees. This should give you a clear indication of their tenure with the company and the skills and specialization you need to secure employment at the company. Connecting and networking with the employees also allows you to learn more about the organization and land a referral for any upcoming job posting. This will greatly increase your chances of securing an interview call.
Tailor your resume
Think of your resume as your ticket to the organization. A well-written resume with the right mix of keywords, accomplishments, and job-specific skill set will go a long way in helping you land a job interview. Remember, your resume and cover letter must be unique for each job role you’re applying to.
Getting a job interview is the first step towards securing the job. But to get there, you first need to keep a few things in mind.
Read the job description carefully.
Polish your resume to make sure it contains the right keywords.
Be mindful of what you post to your social media accounts.
Improve your networking skills and try to land a job referral.
Some factors are beyond your control. So keep applying and don’t lose hope!