The 3 Reasons Why Your CV Keeps Getting Ignored

The 3 Reasons Why Your CV Keeps Getting Ignored
Article contributed by Ben Kahan
Written on 17 February 2015

So you've sent your CV everywhere and everyone.

You've sent it to the Solicitor's firm round the corner in London, and to the Cornershop at the crossroads in Lille, and you've emailed it to the Ice company in Antarctica, but you haven't heard a word back.

What's going wrong?

I wrote a post outlining the five key elements to keeping your résumé on the desk of the recruiter, but there's only so much that they can do with it - unless you have the three most important ingredients, you're not likely to hear feedback.

So here's our three top reasons that your CV is getting put in the trash pile - and how to ensure it won't end up there again.

1. It's Not Focused

The Issue

Cramming all of your professional life onto a two-sided sheet of A4 is difficult at the best of times. Summarising your career on paper is a tough ask, whether your work experience could fill a novel or a postage stamp.

But when you put everything on there, with equal attention, you run the risk of appearing to be a jack-of-all-trades.

The Result

Without having a specific focus, your CV could be sent out to anyone in any industry that you have brushed shoulders with and it will be seen as equally appealing - or unappealing.

And if that opinion rubs off on one of your potential employers, then you can bet it'll feel just as unfocused to the rest of the people who have your résumé on their desk.

How To Avoid It

If you're applying for a role in a specific industry - which you should be - then ensure your CV revolves around that career path. Your profile should state your intention to work in that environment, and the responsibilities summarised under each work experience heading should be far more concise under the relevant experiences than those that aren't linked.

For example, if you're looking to work in an accountancy practice, all the qualifications and experience regarding economics are paramount - all the work you've done in retail (for example) shouldn't have even close to the same attention.

2. It's Not Personal

The Issue

Now that your résumé has been targeted to a specific industry, it's one third of the way to getting the attention you demand. In any market, there are an impossibly large number of organisations that cater for your requirements - and would pique your interest - and you should send that CV to every one of them, just to hedge your bets.


The Result

Well, not entirely. While yes, having the relevant experience outlined on your CV is vital, it's not going to stand out any more than the other two, three, or five thousand documents that pile onto any recruiter or employer's desk.

You're never the only candidate being considered, and this is one way to put you head, shoulders, knees and toes above the rest.

How To Avoid It

It's easy: do your research. Knowing the company you're applying to is an excellent way to get a call back - simply because it feels personal to the prospective employer.

Knowing the hierarchy of the company, and explaining - either in a cover letter or your summary - how you'd fit within the organisation, and which of your skills will be most useful within the workplace will show you have the initiative and work ethic to push the business forward.

After all: whatever you may think, you are part of the company in the same way petrol is part of a car. It comes in and it goes out, but if you put the wrong gasoline in, the car will splutter. You want to be super unleaded - not diesel.

3. It's Not Yours

The Issue

Perhaps your CV is templated like the one before it and the one after it. Maybe it's written in third person - either by yourself or a mate you thought would do a good job. Maybe it's been generated online by some website that transforms your Facebook page into a résumé.

How does that reflect on you?

The Result

Having a generated or themed CV isn't about clarity, it's about formatting, and the bottom line is that it doesn't have to be fancy or colourful or have multiple columns and typefaces (as discussed here).

If your résumé looks the same as a bunch of others, it doesn't show creativity - it shows a lack thereof.

And if your CV is written in third person, it's a warning sign. It's your career and it should be written by you - in first person - and, whether you've written it or not, having it all told in third person makes it look like a task handed over to someone else. Whoever that person is, it doesn't matter if it isn't you.

How To Avoid It

A clean layout that is easy to write is easy to read for the prospective recruiters and employers. Don't bother with fancy styles and formatting, and certainly stay away from automated generators.

And in regard to your CV seeming impersonal, it's so simple - just do it yourself.

It's your career description and your summary and you're going for a position for yourself. Nobody can do a better job of representing you than you - so represent yourself instead of handing the job over to another service, or website, or even a friend. You can always get someone to proof-read or get advice from, but it's got to be your words at the heart.

Walker Andersen - It's all about time