Your Resume Has to Be Right to Land an Interview

Martin Yate By Martin Yate May 21, 2019

Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column. 

This week Martin answers two similar questions from readers wondering why potential employers never seem to respond to their queries.

Question 1:

I want to make a job change, but, while I am very well-qualified, I'm having problems getting interviews, even phone interviews. First, I think that when these companies post job openings, a good deal of the time they have already sourced candidates for the job. Consequently, uploading my resume results in no response or a polite refusal. Second, if they hire in advance of posting the job and they're not looking at my resume, how do I get on their radar?

Question 2:

I have sent over 700 unanswered e-mails and voice mails, so a reply would be a wonderful surprise. The lack of professional courtesy is unconscionable, and what you learn about the people that you thought were closest to you is truly an eye-opener. I need a breakthrough.

It is sometimes true that jobs are posted even though a candidate has already been chosen; it happens, but rarely. More often, we fall back on this myth to save us the trouble of careful self-appraisal. We often believe our problems are someone else's fault. We fail to look inward and analyze our role in the difficulties we are experiencing. In doing so, we miss valuable opportunities for self-evaluation and growth.

Take this opportunity for self-reflection and objective feedback. Start with seeking advice about your resume:

  • Is it an honest recitation of your work history?
  • Is the resume headed with a target job title?
  • Is the work history tailored to the company's needs and therefore packed with the keywords necessary to be discovered in a resume database?
  • Does it have a relevant headline to draw the reader in?

Those polite rejections you receive might be from an autoresponder because—due to omitting the information above—your resume didn't rank high enough to be thought worthy of a recruiter's review. If it did get seen by human eyes (typically for anywhere between five and 60 seconds), and if your qualifications don't jump right off the page, then your resume will get dumped and that recruiter is on to the next candidate. 

Specific to the first reader: You say you "want to make a job change," but you don't specify how extreme that change might be. A simple job change within your area of expertise is much easier than shifting from one area of expertise within your industry to another, which in turn is much easier than making a complete career change. The last two options demand careful analysis of the responsibilities and deliverables of that new job and how you tailor the writing of your experience to fit the needs of the new job.

A resume that works in this database-driven world and that also resonates when seen by recruiters and hiring managers starts with an analysis of what a cross section of employers look for when trying to fill this kind of job. This gives you a template for the story your resume needs to tell. 

If you are changing areas of expertise and industry, then the difficulty is multiplied. Now, you also need to identify the deliverables of the target job as it performs in that industry and how the industry itself differs from the industries you've worked in, which will require making social media contacts in your target area and learning about the day-to-day functions and deliverables of that job first.

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.

Packed with practical, honest, real-world guidance for successfully navigating common HR career challenges, Martin Yate's new book, The HR Career Guide: Great Answers to Tough Career Questions, is available at the SHRMStore. Order your copy today!



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