You take a deep breath and hit that momentous “send” button. Out goes the email that will deliver your cover letter and resume to your (cross your fingers!) future employer, and you breathe a sigh of relief. But that moment of ease doesn’t last long—for the next few days, you check your email obsessively, watch your spam folder like a hawk, and keep hoping for a call from an unknown number.
And after such optimistic anticipation, nothing can fully prepare you for the heart-dropping feeling you experience when you receive an automatically generated, dream-crushing rejection email, letting you know that you haven’t been selected for an interview.
What happened? Your application may have been perfect in your eyes—but if you didn’t land an interview, it’s time to take a good look at your application—from your potential employer’s point of view. While recruiting preferences definitely vary by company, here are four common reasons why you didn’t get that call back.
1. You Didn’t Follow InstructionsSure, the job application process can be tedious and time consuming (“They want a cover letter, resume, three writing samples, and a YouTube video?”). But the first thing that will knock you out of the running for a new position is failing to follow instructions.
Whether you omit a required element of the application, send the email with something other than the requested subject line, or call the office when the company specifically requests no phone calls, you’ll likely be dismissed right off the bat.
These offenses seem innocent enough, but to a hiring manager, they come across as warning signs that you’re either blindly applying to as many jobs as possible (without actually looking at the application requirements), or that you lack attention to detail—something your future employer is probably not willing to risk.
2. You Lack ExperienceWhen you come across a listing for your absolute dream position, it’s hard to evaluate the job description with an objective eye. No matter what the position requires—and how your experience measures up—you’re going to be 100% certain that you’re the perfect fit.
Unfortunately, if the job requires 10-15 years of experience, the hiring manager isn’t going to view the four years listed on your resume with such a lenient eye. Aiming high is one thing: If you don’t meet the required experience by a small margin, but make up for it with other stellar professional accomplishments and skills, you may still have a chance. But if a glance at your resume clearly indicates that you’re under-qualified for the job, you aren’t going to be getting that interview—so don’t waste your time, it’s better spent elsewhere.