Top Ten Reasons Why Your Resume Gets Ignored

resume analysis

Having your resume ignored by a recruiter or potential employer can hurt, especially if you have all of the right skills and attributes for the job. However, recruiters and hiring managers have to sift through potentially hundreds of resumes for each position.

Research shows that recruiters spend an average of 6.5 seconds reviewing each resume. If yours doesn’t grab attention or stand out when it lands in front of a recruiter or hiring manager, it will be tossed into the recycle bin.

Why Your Resume Gets Ignored

Here are some of the top reasons why recruiters typically ignore certain resumes.

Using the wrong keywords.

Leading recruiters and employers use automatic resume parsing systems (also known as applicant tracking systems) that are designed to detect specific job titles, skills and keywords that align with the particular industry and specific job type. Your job titles and skills need to match the way they have phrased their job titles and skills.

If you are not using the right keywords on your resume, you’ll be screened out by the automated tracking system before a recruiter even gets a chance to see it. This is why it is critical to analyze each job description and tailor your resume to each job you are applying for. To do so, you’ll need to use the specific skills that are listed in the job description to shape wording in your resume—especially if you are submitting it online.

Lack of quantifiable accomplishments.

If you are an experienced professional, quantifying your achievements and accomplishments with measurable results is absolutely essential. If you have not included any quantifiable achievements, it will be virtually impossible for you make any meaningful impression on a recruiter or potential employer, because there is no way for them to evaluate your potential value. Your resume will be ignored.

Doesn’t stand out.

With hundreds of applicants all vying for the same job vacancy, the competition for jobs today is very steep, and there is a great need for your application to stand out every time. If your resume looks virtually the same as that of hundreds of other resumes, it will be ignored. When there are hundreds of similarly qualified candidates competing for the same position as you, it is absolutely essential to showcase what makes you more qualified than anybody else for that job position.

Simply showing that you’re qualified or have the skills to do the job is not sufficient for you to stand out or to be noticed. You resume needs to show why you are more suitable than anyone else. Your resume needs to grab attention by presenting and describing your work history, expertise and accomplishments in a truly unique way that demonstrates why you stand out from the crowd.

Vague statements.

A resume with clichés or vague statements will never make the cut. In today’s tight and competitive job market, statements like “excellent team working skills” or “strong leadership skills” mean nothing to a recruiter. You need to be very specific in order to communicate the value of what you can do.

For example, rather than simply stating that you have great leadership skills, show that you have those qualities by describing how you take the lead on each task your team is assigned.

Not tailored to the position you are applying for.

Just because two or more jobs share the same title, it doesn’t mean the job description in each job will be exactly the same. Each job description is different, and each employer will be searching for and emphasizing different qualities. You need to read each job description carefully and update your resume so that it is tailored to each job you’re applying to.

Recruiters and hiring managers search for 7-10 minimum criteria and rank resumes based on the number of criteria matched. If you’re using the same generic resume for each job opportunity you find online, it will be rejected if you don’t meet the minimum criteria.

Riddled with typos and other errors.

One or two typos on your resume could kill your job application. Unfortunately, this is what happens when we read, re-read and re-write our resumes so much that we miss out typos and other errors.

Sending out a resume with spelling mistakes or grammatical errors shows a lack of professionalism and attention to detail on your part, and recruiters will use those mistakes to make assumptions about your everyday work quality. Nothing can make up for typos on a resume, so be sure to get someone to give it a once-over before sending it out because it can be hard to catch your own spelling or grammatical mistakes.

Putting all the great stuff on the second page.

Recruiters spend an average of 7 seconds looking at each resume. You need to be creative enough to get all of the most pertinent information that a recruiter needs to qualify you on one page. It’s not an easy task to present the best of your skills, experience and personal qualities on one page. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what most employers want. If your resume consists of more than one page and all of the great stuff is buried on the second page, it will be ignored.

No cover letter.

The cover letter is a staple in the job hunting process. It is a key part of marketing your personal brand, and the number one thing you need to get your resume read. Yet, far too many job seekers underestimate the importance of a well-written cover letter, choosing to focus all of their energy on the resume, and ignoring the cover letter altogether. Not sending a cover letter is a sign of laziness and speaks volumes.

Sending a bad cover letter.

The only thing worse than not sending a cover letter, is sending a badly-written or generic cover letter that appears re-used across many job applications, or simply rehashes what is already on your resume. A badly written cover letter stands out for being just that, and it will kill your chances of getting that job. It will tell the potential employer all he or she needs to know about your personality and work ethic, and there’ll be no incentive to move on to your resume.

No links to social media profiles.

If you are interested in a digital marketing role, not having a blog or social media presence would be practically kill off your chances. If a recruiter comes across your resume, many will run a background check on Google to learn more about you. They will check out your Facebook and Twitter profiles. If they search your name and find nothing, this will immediately raise red flags. This is why it is of utmost importance to maintain a strong and professional social media presence.

Bad formatting.

It is important for your resume to stand out, but not for the wrong reasons. Research shows that the better a resume is formatted, the more thoroughly a recruiter will review it. Although the standard resume format is a big turn-off for recruiters who keep on seeing the same layout again and again, you’ll want to avoid too much fancy formatting or extreme designs. Recruiters certainly appreciate uniqueness and creativity, but don’t go overboard. It is in your own interest that your resume is clear, concise and well presented.

Using a Hotmail address.

The email address that you use on your resume matters, and if you are using certain email addresses, you could be inadvertently hurting your job search. According to many employers, a Hotmail, Yahoo! Or AOL email is outdated and bad for a job candidate’s image. The general perception is that such email addresses tend to be used by people who are computer-illiterate, and an AOL email address in particular could actually prevent a potential employer from hiring a job candidate.

Even if you don’t share the view that using these domains are inappropriate, being current is important to many types of employers, so you’ll want to avoid sabotaging your resume and damaging your chances of getting hired.


Job hunting is hard. Don’t make it any more difficult than it already is. It is important to take control of all of the variables you are in control of in order to give yourself a better chance of attracting potential employers. Don’t give a company a reason not to hire you before you send out your resume. The hiring process has evolved, and you need to adapt your job search strategy accordingly.

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