Why Hiring Managers Aren't Selecting You for an Interview

crumpled resume

How many times have you applied for a job and then never heard back from the potential employer?

Talk to anyone out in the job market looking for work, and you’re sure to hear this story over and over again. So, what’s the missing ingredient? What is it that these people are doing that keeps them from at least landing an interview?

Applying for a job certainly does not guarantee anyone an actual interview. That has never been truer than it is today, an era where candidates face increasing challenges to get noticed and be selected for an interview.

To better understand what catches the attention of hiring managers, Lee Hecht Harrison surveyed 277 human resource managers responsible for sourcing or hiring talent. The respondents came from organizations of all sizes and major industries across North America, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

Our survey revealed that hiring managers report a wide array of chronic problems that limit an individual’s ability to land that interview. Problems that are actually amplified when candidates rely solely on online solutions to connect with employers.

First off, a lack of job related-skills and experience is the most common missing ingredient in job applications. That may seem an odd shortcoming in a day and age when job seekers have access to millions of open positions through online job boards.

However, exposure to all those potential jobs has encouraged candidates to broaden their job search to include positions for which they are not entirely qualified. It’s a platform that seems to foster a hit-or-miss approach that does more to frustrate hiring managers than impress them.

The survey also confirmed that far too many resumés are poorly constructed, designed and executed. Bad spelling and grammar continue to be the downfall for many candidates. Often, candidates are stuffing their resumés with keywords in an obvious bid to negotiate screening software and applicant tracking systems. This produces resumés that are solely focused on tasks, rather than skills and accomplishments.


"Please rate how detrimental you believe each of the following issues is to a candidate's chances of being selected for an interview."

Candidate Issue Detriment 
Lack of job-related skills  9.0
Lack of required technical skills and experience  8.9
Spelling and/or grammatical errors  8.5
Lack of required education and/or training  8.1
Inappropriate social media content  7.7
Resume doesn't showcase results or accomplishments  7.5
Gaps in work history  7.4
Lack of industry experience  7.3
Lack of tenure in current/previous position  7.3
Titles don't accurately reflect position(s) and/or responsibilities  7.0
Poorly defined value proposition  6.2
Generic resume and cover letter  6.0
Failure to include a cover letter  3.9

Ratings based on a 0-10 scale, where 0 represents "Not at all detrimental" and 10 represents "Very Detrimental."


How can you really get noticed at the application stage? Candidates must tailor all messaging to align their skills with the needs of the potential employer. They should seek to highlight accomplishments that are quantifiable, and to avoid sending their resumé out to any/all openings.

Most importantly, don’t neglect to undertake the extra legwork to use social platforms to research hiring managers and company executives to see if you have anyone in your personal network that can make an introduction. Nothing adds emphasis to an application like a note from someone already inside the company, advocating on your behalf.

And finally, proofread those materials you submit to a potential employer. Even one typographical or grammatical error can doom a job application.

About Our Research

Lee Hecht Harrison surveyed 277 human resource managers responsible for sourcing or hiring talent. The respondents came from organizations of all sizes and major industries across North America, Latin America and Asia-Pacific. We examined sourcing and hiring trends to learn top ways hiring managers are sourcing talent. Download our full report.

Contact us to learn about career transition and outplacement.

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