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Rejecting Resumes

If you’re not getting a lot of calls, there could be a good reason.


You have seven seconds to get a hiring manager’s attention with your resume or see it end up in the trash, with most of the others. It sounds harsh but recruiters and hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes so getting attention for your CV is a job you need to take seriously. You could be missing opportunities that you’re perfect for just because of your resume.

In the past, I have tried to help candidates with their resumes and learned my lesson the hard way about doing this. When I receive a resume that is full of typos and grammatical errors, I feel inclined to help by making the corrections, but this doesn’t do the candidate any good. I may help correct the obstacles that stand in the way of getting the job, but I can’t help them in their day to day work, so have I really helped at all? Not really.

The best way I can help candidates is by outlining the reasons why resumes get rejected so that you can go back and take a good hard look at your CV and see what you can do to improve it and your chances of getting an interview.

Start with the idea that when a hiring manager is weeding through a pile of resumes, they’re looking for ways to make their pile smaller. Don’t give them any reason to put yours in the ‘trash’ pile. Typos and grammatical errors are resume enemy number one but there are other mistakes that will make it less likely that the hiring manager will be reading your resume right to the end. Like what? Read on!

  1. Don’t include your address on your resume – a manager may make the decision for you that you live too far away to be considered. They’re thinking about your commute time in bad weather, not if you’d be willing to relocate or not. And frankly, unless you have a very strong set of skills, relocation isn’t usually of interest to employers.
  2. List your accomplishments – while it’s vital to show your skills through a recitation of your responsibilities in each job you’ve had, it’s also important to show what you accomplished, what results you achieved, within the roles. For example, the fact that you made sales calls isn’t what a potential employer wants to know. The fact that you increased sales for the region by 22% in six months? That’s valuable information!
  3. Think of your resume as an elevator pitch – the days of the multiple page CV are gone. Hiring managers don’t have the time to look at all of your samples, or your lists of volunteer experiences overseas. Cut to the chase and give them the goods that they’ll be interested in. Make sure that the industry keywords are popping out!
  4. Adjust your resume for the job – while you are probably looking within a certain industry, the jobs and the companies vary quite a bit nonetheless, so make sure you customize your resume for each and every job you apply for.
  5. Skip the selfie – you need a professional picture for your LinkedIn page but don’t put it on your resume. It’s not necessary and won’t help you and in fact could hinder you, depending on the picture itself and the opinion the manager has of people who put their picture on everything.
  6. Original? Yes. Cutesy? No. – Having an original style resume is great but you can quickly go to the land of cheese and lose credibility by not appearing professional. I once got a giant fortune cookie that told me that my fortune was that I was going to find the perfect employee really soon. The resume was tucked in an envelope underneath. It was cute and I did find the perfect employee but it wasn’t him. Cute approach aside, he didn’t have the right skills. In the same vein, avoid colored paper, scented paper (unless you’re Elle Woods), wacky fonts and inappropriate email addresses—skip ‘’, for example. None of these look professional and they’re just distracting.

Even though it is not technically a part of your resume, the professionalism of your online footprint is just as important. Your paper resume, or digital one at LinkedIn, might have made it to the ‘to be considered’ pile, only to be tossed out after a quick viewing of your public Facebook page and the comments you were making about your previous employer, for example. Take the time to look at yourself online and make sure you present a clean image there too.

One of the hardest things I have to do is reject a candidate based on their resume. It goes against my desire to help people find the best job available, but there are times where the industry is not a fit for the candidate. Real estate is a business that requires accuracy and attention to detail. Don’t let your first foot in the door be the wrong one!


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