One of the biggest frustrations my candidates repeatedly share is the lack of feedback they receive from job applications. “I haven’t heard so I guess I’m not successful?” tends to be the norm.
Whilst I’m going to focus on CV rejection here, this wall of silence is becoming increasingly common for interviewed candidates as well, but that’s another post.
We all realise that the sheer volume of applications mean that many Recruiters only get back to those they have shortlisted, an increasingly smaller number send out a standard rejection and rare is personal insight or comment upon the individual application discussing its pros and cons.
The problem is all this quiet doesn’t allow the candidate to move on. Some they get caught up in an application cycle making the same repeated mistakes which could be easily avoided if someone just let them in on what they were. Others look to outside forces like the market to blame and never take a closer look at themselves. Many get frustrated and give up and others simply send out multiple applications to the same post hoping that one may get through this unfathomable barrier.
Who can blame them? We could hound the recruiter until we hear something back, but even if we do it will probably be along the lines of “Not a close enough match.” very much the “It’s not you it’s me” gentle let down.
Funnily enough, if you are way off the mark, you are usually one of the first to get a standard response, as the action the Recruiter needs to take is clear. If you are on the ‘maybe’ pile or of some confusion, then nine times out of ten your application is banished to some sort of CV purgatory where it sits in silence until the post is filled and all applications closed off.
If you haven’t heard, could your application fall into one of the following most common reasons for rejection?
• Irrelevancy – you do not appear to have any or enough of the right skill sets and experience to do the job.
• Confusing – it is difficult to pull out the information needed, perhaps down to layout, format, font, poor grammar or use of jargon. Remember, a specialist in your field may not do the first round of the selection process and so technical terminology may not be understood. Some companies also have their own internal jargon (in particular acronyms,) that does not translate to other organisations.
• Too difficult to read – long paragraphs of text written in the first person make key information hard to disseminate quickly. Once again certain fonts are very difficult to read. It’s worth mentioning here that if you are using an obscurer font the intended recipient does not have, the program they are using may substitute it for a different one, this means what you see on screen is not what they will be looking at. This could alter the format dramatically so it is best to stick to one of the more accessible types such as: Arial, Comic Sans MS, Courier New, Tahoma, Trebuchet MS, or Verdana which are also easy to read onscreen. Use between 10-12 point sizes.
• Bad presentation – although CVs seem to have their own unique grammar rules, poorly constructed sentences and bad spelling show you haven’t taken time or care so why should the reader? Formatting is part of first impressions. Make sure the reader is not distracted by appearance and focuses on what you have to say. As for including a photo, I would advise against it, again it can act as a distraction.
• Inconsistency – if the timelines are confusing or incorrect and parts of the CV contradict each other.
• Too short – not enough information to assess your basic ability for the role, or your personal involvement and level of responsibility in the positions you have held and duties performed.
• Too long – repetitious and full of irrelevant information that clouds the information of interest.
• Too late in the process- the CV is good but faces a timing issue as the recruiter already has candidates at or close to offer stage.
If none of the above seems to apply then why not get in touch? Try and save yourself from CV isolation and get the elusive insight as to what could make you more successful.
I have learnt that most productive approach is to ask for tips for future applications instead of focussing upon why you were rejected in the first place. Recruiters tend to be less defensive and more forthcoming this way.