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5 Biggest Reasons Hiring Managers Have Rejected Your Resume

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Joanne Poh

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’Member those days when you could hop to a new job every 6 months and people would still scramble to hire you? Those days are over thanks to the slowing job market.

The spotlight was first shone on the spate of retrenchments which left many middle aged PMETs high and dry. Now, even younger Singaporeans, who’ve traditionally had an easy time finding employment (they call them job hoppers for a reason) are finding it so hard to get employed that some have just given up.

Those who haven’t thrown in the towel and are still desperately applying for jobs, only to have their CVs unceremoniously trashed, might be dismayed to know that HR managers dismiss the vast majority of resumes they receive. Often, this could been prevented by the candidate.

According to Eunice Tan, who has looked through hundreds of thousands of resumes over the span of her decade-long HR career, these are the top five reasons resumes get sent to the bonfire.

 

The resume is irrelevant to the job posting

HR departments often end up with a high number of irrelevant resumes. Eunice says, “We get some candidates who have obviously applied to every single job. One example would be someone with an HR background applying for an accounts job.”

Other than the fact that the candidate might be grossly unqualified for the job, employers are also wary of considering them for junior positions because they’re afraid the applicant is unsure of what he wants.

If you’re trying to make a career switch, it’s a good idea to make it clear in your cover letter so the company knows you didn’t just spam the job boards randomly and are making a deliberate career move by applying for their position.

 

The resume is too brief

It’s not uncommon to be fed the advice that your resume should be kept to one page. But in reality, there’s no hard and fast rule, and depending on your industry and experience, it might be more appropriate to let your resume extend to two or three pages. (If you’re using font size 6.5 and the HR manager needs a magnifying glass to read your resume, please just start a new page.)

Unfortunately, in a bid to keep their resumes short and sweet, many candidates do not provide enough information about their work experience. There are even some who provide little more than job titles and a one-liner about their duties. Do that and you’ll have a hard time selling yourself as job titles alone are of little value to recruiters.

 

The resume is too long or disorganised

Long, rambling resumes are just as bad as overly short ones, and hiring managers get frustrated trying to make head or tail of them.

“Hiring managers will often trash a resume they have a hard time reading because they have many other applications to get through and don’t want to waste time. A disorganised resume also makes the candidate look unprofessional, so the hiring manager is less likely to think they would be a good hire,” says Eunice.

 

The candidate looks like a job hopper

Job hopping has become quite the problem in Singapore, and horror stories abound of millennials who just fail to show up for work one day, or PMETs who deliberately change jobs every year to drive up their salaries.

While you might have been able to job hop with impunity before 2016, this was largely because the labour market was very tight and employers had no choice but to take whomever they could get. Now that the job market is tighter, though, a history of job hopping is going to work against you.

 

Certain keywords are missing from the resume

You might think your resume is a Shakespearean work of art, but guess what, many hiring managers aren’t even going to bother reading a single line.

Hiring managers and recruiters often scan resumes briefly, trying to spot keywords for relevant skills. This is particularly the case when you send your resume as a Word document, or cut and paste it into a text box. All the hiring manager has to do is use Ctrl+F and search for a few keywords a candidate for the job should have included. If these are missing, your resume gets trashed.

For example, if you’re applying for a job as a software engineer, an HR manager might try to search for keywords like “data” or “java”, depending on the job scope. If you haven’t got these words on your CV, they move on to the next one.

It’s thus smart to try to pre-empt the keywords a HR manager might search for when applying for a particular job. If you can’t find a way to include them in your resume, there’s a chance you’re unqualified for the job.

Are you having a tough time finding a new job? Share your stories in the comments.

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.