Three Reasons No One Is Asking You in for an Interview

Locked DoorsGetting a job interview can be tough, especially with the tremendous competition for each position. Even if you are qualified, you can easily miss out. If that’s your case, it’s time to seriously study your resume to find out how you can improve it.

Why the resume? Well, your resume is what gets you the phone interview. Your resume won’t get you the job, it won’t get you a face-to-face interview. No, it can only get you the initial talk. That’s what you want.

Ignoring the 4,786 conflicting rules about how your resume should be formatted, and assuming it doesn’t contain the things that get your resume thrown out in under ten seconds, these three items will put your resume into virtual trash if you don’t do them right:

1.  You Don’t Use Industry Standard Job Titles

Hang with me on this one. Consider your company and how they hand out titles like candy. It makes your job sound more important, doesn’t it? So when you put a company job title that doesn’t match the industry job title, all those nice search engines looking for that standard will simply pass you by.

Look, if you’re a business analyst, but are called a “business consultant senior,” change it back to “business analyst.” Because that’s the job you do. I’ve seen consulting companies take “senior” out of the title — you want the interview and the rest of it is about money sometime later — so tailor the title to the standard.

Ask yourself this: Do you think when you’re gone that your company will try and find a “business consultant senior?” Or will they look for “business analyst”? There you go.

2. Your Resume Doesn’t Tie Your Your Work to Business Results

Hiring managers want to know that the person they are interviewing can produce business results to help meet their department goals. That means you have to show that when you worked on the XYZ project as a project manager, the business results were ABC. Otherwise, the person reading your resume will think nothing of the work.

People in IT have a hard time translating their work into non-IT business results. They don’t state how the work helped the business. Or the end user. Or how it made it easier to work with the customer. Or increased reliability of the system for users. Or helped the company eliminate a platform, saving money.

Look at how your work translates into faster cycle time, increased productivity, dollar savings or increased revenue. That’s the magic you want people to find when reading your resume.

3. You Don’t Have the Key Words Needed to Get Hits From the Software

We all like to think that some nice (or not nice) person is actually reading our resume. The truth of the matter, though, is that large companies process resumes by looking for key words that a recruiter types into a search engine. Maybe they want a business analyst that works in an Agile environment and has experience in health insurance in Dallas. They put that into the search engine and out pops matching resumes to consider for an interview.

Yet, if you fit that profile perfectly and don’t have business analyst, Agile, health insurance, and Dallas in your resume, the search engine won’t consider your resume as a good match.

List every job skill — including the soft skills that every job is supposed to have — because it increases the probability of a hit. Standard job titles. All methodologies. All locations. A person can’t see your story unless your resume gets spit out of the search engine as a possibility.

If you aren’t getting the calls for interviews when you think your skills are a slam-dunk for a position, it’s time to go back to the foundation — the resume — to see where it can be improved to better reflect your work. You can’t shine in an interview unless you actually get an interview.

Photo: Huangkeipais/Wikimedia via Creative Commons license

11 Responses to “Three Reasons No One Is Asking You in for an Interview”

  1. I don’t agree. Your resume is a crutch that keeps you from doing what really gets interviews: circulating among people you want to work with. If resumes were key in the job search, they would not be such a commodity. Any employer can buy tens of thousands of them for virtually nothing. So, putting your resume out there among all the millions of others is little more than playing a lottery. It’s a concession to a broken down employment system and a surrender to helpessness. What gets you the initial meeting is a referral from someone the manager trusts — while the pile if resumes is gathering dust. That’s where to invest your time. (Sorry: This requires work. And it should. You have no business being the “inside” candidate if you don’t do the work that an inside candidate does.)

    • Nick — the working of your business network to find opportunities and get recommendations is very good stuff to do to find a job. A targeted job search that includes those recommendations will give you a much higher probability of getting the interview.

      I just wouldn’t throw out the baby with the bath water with the resume — those very same hiring managers will take your recommendation and then ask for your person’s resume. If the resume rocks, that also improves a person’s chances even more than your recommendation. If it doesn’t, the hiring manager is less likely to have enthusiasm for your recommendation.

      Every tool in the toolbox. Some are better than others in different situations, but every tool counts.

      Yes, what you recommend requires work — all this stuff does. There are no easy answers or easy paths to get to the work you like doing.

  2. RoTimi Waddy

    Wow, while I really admire the efforts of the advice of the original author of this article, I must say that I sincerely appreciate the comments posted above! Those seem to better exemplify what it truly takes to succeed in this dog eat dog world of getting employed these days!!! I’ll heed to the advice above, in addition to having a professional resume which accurately displays the aspects that set me a part as the best candidate.

  3. I dont understand how someone that works for Dice or any other company that gives tips on how to get jobs in a professional work environment can have so many typos in his article. Spend more time proof reading before you post your article please.

    • Hi, Mark. I may be too close to this, but I’m not seeing all the typos you’re talking about. Could you give me a couple of examples? Feel free to e-mail me (mfeffer @, or flay me publicly here in the comments. Thanks.


  4. Italia

    I read this article just to see what you had to say today we have an overload of how to get a job…..blah,blah, blah,(Yes, I am working, but I like to keep myself updated).
    I did not see any typo’s. Maybe, it was all the contractions that were in your writing. Some people hate contractions (like me)otherwise…..

  5. I am not seeing any typos. I copy and pasted the whole article on Word 2007 and the only “complaint” this word processor gave me is the “In For” in the title. The correction suggested is “in for” or they should not be capitalized. What the heck! Word 2007 didn’t know it’s a title! I have no problem with this cool article, and nothing is wrong with the title.

  6. Blacklisted Bob

    You forgot the #1 reason, at least here in Vancouver: Huge international corporations blacklisting ex-employees. I’ve been blacklisted by EA Canada for 25 years and it’s the number one reason I have been told by companies that they would never consider interviewing me.

    I did check with a few lawyers when it happened all those years ago, and there is apparently there is no protection for employees in BC for this sort of thing. in the past 25 years I have known hundreds of people who have been blacklisted by various corporations, all because we asked for better working conditions or managers to be properly trained for what they do.