The Top Things Hiring Managers Complain Are Missing When Assessing Job Applicants

crumpled resume

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

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.

Hiring managers told us there are many factors 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.

A lack of job-related skills and experience is the most common missing ingredient in job applications. The proliferation of online job boards containing hundreds of thousands of open jobs has made it easy for candidates to apply for positions—oftentimes positions for which they are not entirely qualified. When a candidate considers applying for a job—even when he or she doesn’t have everything the employer is looking for—the candidate needs to think about how to bridge the gaps in experience and skills, and communicate that story effectively.

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.

In our survey, we asked hiring managers to rate how detrimental they believe each of the following issues is to a job seeker's chances of being selected for an interview:

Issue  Ranking
Lack of job-related skills 9.0
Lack of required technical skills and experience 8.9
Spelling/grammatical errors 8.5
Lack of required education/training 8.1
Inappropriate social media 7.7
Resume doesn't showcase results or accomplishments 7.5
Gaps in work experience 7.4
Lack of industry experience 7.3
Lack of tenure in current/previous positions 7.3
Titles don't accurately reflect position(s) and/or responsibilities 7.0
Poorly defined value proposition 6.2


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 should align their skills with the needs of the potential employer. If some skills are missing, bridge the gap by sharing other skills that the employer may value. They should highlight accomplishments that are quantifiable. And look for a connection into the hiring company through a personal introduction or referral. Finally, proofread all materials submitted to a potential employer.

Even one typographical or grammatical error can doom even the most promising job application.

Download the 2017 US Guide to Workforce and Salary Trends. Our latest research report offers strategies and insights on workforce developments to capitalize on today's job market, including salary data for full time-positions across major industries and functional roles.


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  • I'd like make contact to learn about career transition and outplacement. Thank you.

    6/18/2017 1:18 AM
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