You think your resume and cover letter look great, and you’ve been applying to every job you find that piques your interest. And then you wait. And wait. And wait. Nothing. This radio silence can be disappointing, but it should also be a wake-up call. If your resume is generating few or no hits, it’s time to make some changes because something isn’t working.

Keep in mind that in some cases the problem isn’t you or your resume. The company may have filled the position internally or decided to go in a different direction. Or perhaps their turnaround time is just very slow. There’s nothing you can do about this. But in some cases, there are ways you can change your resume to be more proactive.

Why Your Resume May Be Overlooked

  • There is no clear connection between your career history and the job you’re applying for. This is especially true if you’re trying to break into a new field or switch roles. Employers don’t want to have to guess at why you’re a good fit. Your summary, competencies, and cover letter should make that clear. Also focus your job history on relevant points that bring value to the type of work you’re pursuing and show you can achieve results.
  • You’re not the right fit. You may see how you check every box, but your resume isn’t clearly demonstrating this to employers. Make sure you carefully read the job description and hit on key points employers are looking for.
  • Your resume doesn’t appeal to ATS. More and more employers are using automated systems to scan applicants and pare down the candidate pool. This means that your resume needs to be organized effectively and include the same keywords and phrases used in the job description. Get rid of tables and images that are likely to be stripped anyway.
  • It’s too busy. Large blocks of text, confusing format, and tiny fonts and margins can be an immediate turnoff. Incorporate horizontal lines and bullet points to break up content. Use bolding to emphasize sections or titles. Cut down on unnecessary clutter to make your resume more concise and powerful. But don’t be afraid of going onto a second page if necessary.
  • There are no accomplishments. If your resume is laundry list of responsibilities, you’re missing the point. Employers aren’t as concerned about what you did, but rather how you did it and what it accomplished. Focus on using action- and results-oriented statements and incorporating metrics when possible.

Another issue could be putting all of your focus on job boards. Try going directly to company websites you’re interested in as well as leveraging your professional and personal network to get leads. Don’t limit your options to only what is posted on the sites you happen to visit.