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Rewrite Your Resume to Land an Interview

A person writing on a paper with a red pen.

​Bestselling 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 5 and 60 seconds) but your qualifications didn't jump right off the page, the recruiter may have dumped your resume and moved 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. It is better to make a career change earlier in your career rather than later.

These options demand careful analysis of the responsibilities and deliverables of that new job and how you tailor the writing of your experience to fit these needs.

Writing a resume that works in this database-driven world and that also resonates when seen by recruiters and hiring managers requires an analysis of what potential employers look for when trying to fill this target job. Your needs analysis will provide a template for the story your resume should tell. 

If you are changing areas of expertise and industry, the challenge is greater because you need to identify not only the skills required in the new industry, but also how the new industry differs from your current industry experience.  You can achieve this by making social media contacts of professionals within the new target job area and by learning about the day-to-day functions and deliverables from those new contacts.

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 book, The HR Career Guide: Great Answers to Tough Career Questions, is available at the SHRMStore. Order your copy today!


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