Reasons for No Résumé Responses

A reader writes…


I am desperately seeking a job and I feel as though I am sending out résumés left and right with no response. I have experience in a variety of fields and have been stretching the boundaries just to find some type of employment. What am I doing wrong?

Hi, Craving Call-backs,

Thanks for the question. I have a feeling many of you out there are experiencing this problem in your job search. With the lagging economy, fewer employers are actively hiring large numbers of people and the competition for those jobs is much steeper.Keyboard Bite

I have come up with a list of 8 reasons why you may not be getting the “we must hire them” response. Check them out below.

1. Applying for a job you are not qualified for. Many of you are looking to find any job available and have tried applying to jobs for which you do not meet the minimum requirements. It seems like it is worth a shot, right? Wrong. Unbeknownst to the masses, job descriptions do serve a higher purpose than just putting some text out hoping to hook a few applicants. They clearly spell out the necessary skills, training, education, duties, and responsibilities of the job. If a company is looking for a person with 5-7 years experience in the automotive sales industry and you have 2 years of sales experience and love cars, odds are you won’t get the call-back. It’s better not to waste your time or theirs by submitting your résumé.

2. Generic cover letter and résumés. Employers are well aware of job seekers that work on autopilot, distributing the same résumé whenever they feel even the slightest pulse. Before you send out a résumé or cover letter, take the time to tailor it to the job you are applying for. For a full list of tips on how to do this visit my post How to Tailor Your Résumé. As for cover letters, do your research and include the hiring manager’s name, company name, and business address, even when it is an email. If you need more pointers, see my other post called Covering the Cover Letter. Remember, it is the little things that get you noticed.

3. Generic job title. As we have seen in the previous section, generic is not the way to go. It can come off as lazy or disinterested. If the job description says they are looking for the Director of First Impressions (or receptionist, in layman’s terms), by all means put that as the job you are striving to obtain!

4. You don’t live there. If you are looking for a job in a city other than where you reside, you will most likely be pushed to the wayside. Employers do not want to pay for relocation and do not want to interview a candidate they know Lost in the Pileis not in the area. If you have friends or family who live near the job location, use their address on your résumé.

5. Keywords in job description not included. With the large influx of résumés coming in for advertised positions, many companies do not have the time to read them all. It is common practice now to feed résumés through software programs that pick up keywords that apply to that position. If you do not reach the set number of keywords necessary to move to the next round, your résumé will be discarded. A great way to lower your chances of this happening is to skim the job description and include as many keywords as you can without being grammatically incorrect or overly obvious.

6. Didn’t follow instructions. Be sure to read the job description very carefully. Some employers have very strict standards and procedures on how they accept applications, résumés, and other materials. If they request that you send your résumé in Word and you send them a PDF, right off the bat, you have shown you cannot follow directions. Who wants a person like that as an employee? If they require that you submit three references and you submit two, odds are that you will be rejected before you can say “hire me.” By the way, this includes salary requirements. I know it seems you’ll be pricing yourself too low or too high, but there are ways to give a number and then indicate you’re flexible.

7. Focus on accomplishments, not duties. Employers want to see what you have accomplished, not what you did on a daily basis. Accomplishments show drive, ambition, productivity, and more. List actions that you can take credit for. Try to use words like managed, implemented, developed, applied, created, etc.

8. Typos in résumés. Punctuation problems, misspelled words, and goofed-up grammar force many employers to slam on their brakes. With computers, spell-check, and (I know I will sound old here) plenty of dictionaries, there is almost no excuse for why you should have grammatical errors and typos in your résumé. Do not always trust spell-check; go through the entire document from bottom to top and read every word. Proofread it over and over again and ask for feedback from professionals you trust. If you notice a typo after the fact, do not send a corrected version, but definitely fix your résumé before sending it out to the next opening.  Be sure to check for these common mistakes I find all the time:

  • Is the correct word there, their, or they’re? It’s or its? Where or wear? Figure it out, and be right!
  • Bulleted items should only end in a period if they are complete sentences.
  • Jobs, activities, and accomplishments you have had in the past are in past tense. Those that are current are in the present tense (manage vs. managed, raise vs. raised, negotiates vs. negotiated).

I hope with these tips you can begin to see the résumé response from employers you are looking for. It is also important to remember that recruiters and employers are swamped with job inquiries. Give it about 1-2 weeks before following up with that prospect or putting that position behind you. Keep your chin up and your attitude positive!

Readers, have you had trouble getting résumé responses from potential employers? What have you found to be the best trick to get the call-backs rolling in?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit

Happy Hunting,


17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. skull beads
    May 29, 2014 @ 15:36:25

    I was curious if you ever thought of changing the page layout of your website? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?



  2. new and cunfused
    Jan 13, 2014 @ 14:07:40

    I don’t know how to write a resume. Where can I get help



  3. Norene Thode
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 17:59:25

    when making resume, you should always include an objective.`

    Please do pay a visit to our own webpage



  4. online sales training
    Dec 30, 2012 @ 19:11:52

    Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was once a leisure
    account it. Glance complicated to far added agreeable from you!

    By the way, how can we communicate?



  5. Chris Pasqaule
    Nov 12, 2012 @ 08:49:01

    Don’t know how to put resume in



  6. Lisa Teague
    Oct 31, 2012 @ 04:17:11

    I enjoyed reading this website. It looks like there are some interesting topics and Q&A. This site maybe #1 with me in my pursuit of that perfect little job that will start my second part of life and new career. 🙂



    Oct 28, 2012 @ 13:25:44

    I’m having the same problem, I’m filing out job applications and resumes online and in-person. and still no call backs, & for the most part I’m waiting for call backs but still no call



  8. Richard Philips
    Oct 25, 2012 @ 22:56:51

    Dear Anita,

    I believe I understand the [logic] behind the listing of accomplishments, as opposed to mere duties. But truth be told, the majority of positions I have applied for have requested just that: a listing of duties.

    Currently, I have encountered something of a strange exception. I am employed on a part-time basis and a full-time position has become available within the company I work for. I have made my desires completely and firmly known that I want full-time employment and that this position is of a certain interest to me. Well, after a period of time, I was finally granted an interview. Prior to meeting with one of the managers, I took the time to familiarize myself with the duties of such; thinking doing so would make a good impression.

    Imagine my surprise when the 11 or so questions centered on so-called “compassion” and the like. To be blunt, I am NOT one of these [sic] “empathetic”, fuzzy-warm individuals…especially when and where work is involved. More to the point, I rather resent the whole nature and “tone” of questions that have zero to do with the job at hand.

    I should think that an employer in need of someone who can and will follow instructions, paying close attention to detail ought to be far more valuable than someone who “feels the pain” of others. Whatever happened to just getting the work done correctly and efficiently without drama/trauma for christsakes?


    Richard Phillips



  9. Andrew John Cheadle
    Oct 24, 2012 @ 12:58:55

    From my personal experience they may be deleting your resume without reading it. I’ve received email receipts that have said just this. When I pointed this out to them they’ve told me (in email so I can share it here)

    “We have your resume stored in our resume database. You have responded to approximately 63 job opportunities. We do source from our resumes so there is no need to continue to respond to our postings. We will reach out to you if we get a position that matches your skill set.”

    IOW if you see a Monster job posting with our name on it don’t bother to apply and don’t bother us. I guess I’m not the Apple of someOne’s eye.



  10. Chuck
    Oct 24, 2012 @ 03:04:01

    Sorry, living in the area is not going to be a requirement unless it’s a job with the postal service or the city! Of the last 4 jobs that my wife and I held, our commutes were not short. Our round trips were as follows: My last job had a 70 mile commute. The one before that had a 160 mile commute. (That is not a mistake. It was 160 miles.) My wife had commutes of 56 miles (for a wage that was barely over minimum) and 80 miles. My 160 mile commute last almost 9 years. Her 80 mile commute lasted 7 years.

    We can’t get jobs any more. They do not hire my wife because she is too old, despite the fact that age discrimination is unlawful. They don’t hire me because of my disabilities. These are obvious, but they deny it.

    I have 14 years of lift-truck operation. But they tell me I’m not qualified? Why? There’s only one reason!



  11. Dave hindman
    Oct 23, 2012 @ 17:33:22

    Hilarious! She says not to have errors in grammar but, her first heading is not grammatically correct. “Applying for a job you are not qualified for” should be “Applying for a job for which you are not qualified.” Sentences should not be ended with a preposition.



  12. Gina
    Oct 23, 2012 @ 13:25:57

    Hi Cindi,
    You sound just like what I went through for a year and and five months. I was begining to think I was useless. I varied different skills from healthcare, machine operator, housekeeping. What I did was used a website recommended by Voc. Rehab. its called Use this to pull all your transferable skills together in order to write your resume. I would get calls here and there and I want to say I wrote roughly 80 resumes.
    Two bits of advice:
    I changed the format from a Chronological formate resume to a Functional format.
    (Once I did this posted on Monster…I landed 4 interviews in a week)
    Also I revised my references. I called a few people and asked their permission first. This is proper etique. I decided not to be shy they would either say yes or no.
    By doing these two simple changes I now have my dream job. I made a goal and stuck to it. Yet while in my job searching I went outside the scope and kept applying. If I could be of any possible help please let me know. I was so at the end of my rope.

    All my best to you and wish you luck,



    • heylomusic
      Oct 25, 2012 @ 23:18:05

      Gina – This is a refreshing comment! I’ve been applying for 18 months, revising my resume many times! Since I’m from the ‘experienced’ data base of employees, age matters! I too am reaching out even more than ever and finding that the great references are a step in the right direction. I’m asking them to compose an introductory letter that I include with my email cover letter and attached resume. If nothing else right now, it gives me a boost to know there’s so much support! Now for the job already!!!



  13. Stephen Wycoff
    Oct 23, 2012 @ 08:58:09

    They should also check out video resumes to gain additional exposure. Email me at and I will send you a line that you can record a video resume from home.



  14. Cindi Brawley
    Oct 23, 2012 @ 08:19:12

    Thank you very much, wonderful tips for us in the real world!!



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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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