3 Reasons Your Resume is Getting Passed Over When You Apply Online

May 6, 2009 at 6:55 pm 9 comments

Carolyn ThumbnailPenned by Carolyn

As impersonal, anonymous and frustrating as it feels to apply for jobs online, most companies can only process resumes that come in this way.

Hence, here are three reasons your resume might be getting passed over, and how to fight back:

  1. The mistake: Your cover letter is an attachment. The remedy: If you’re applying by email, copy and paste your cover letter into the body of an email rather than having it as a separate document. Not only is it more likely to be read, but some automated resume systems will just grab the first attachment on your email and parse that — so you want to make sure it’s your resume that’s making it into the system. Check out our Greenhouse for “Do’s and Don’ts of Cover Letters” as well as some samples to work from.
  2. The mistake: Your email address is ridiculous. It’s cool if your email address that you use with friends is “sk8rrrgurl1331” or “babysealclubber” (and yes, we’ve seen that username), but when we receive applications from these types of addresses, it’s hard to take the person seriously as a candidate. The remedy: If you need to, create a more serious email address to use for job applications.
  3. The mistake: the title of your resume or cover letter document is ridiculous or irrelevant, a la “MansfieldResume_EDITEDVERSION4 5-5-09.doc,” “BEST CANDIDATE FOR THE JOB MANSFIELD RESUME.doc,” or worse, “Mansfield Generic Resume.doc.” As for your cover letter, make sure it’s not “Mansfield Generic Cover Letter.doc”… you might as well title it “I took less than 2 minutes to consider and apply for this job.” If you obviously don’t care about the position, the hiring manager isn’t going to waste their time reading your resume. The remedy: You ARE tailoring your resume and cover letter to each position you’re applying to, right? Make sure the title reflects that – such as “Mansfield Bright Green Resume” or “Mansfield Cover Letter – Bright Green Talent.” Getting your name in there is important, too, so people can pull your resume back up easily.

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cmw  |  May 7, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Very helpful post. I’m messing up on #1 and 3. I will heed your recommendations.
    Chad M. Wall

  • 2. Sam  |  May 9, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Your comments are spot-on. I’m making immediate changes as per #3.

    Thank you

  • 3. Christian Adams  |  May 14, 2009 at 3:20 am

    Thanks for the tips. I have been making those mistakes.

  • 4. Tina Kneisley Dulong  |  May 21, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    AHA! I KNEW there was a reason I wasn’t even being considered for some of those jobs! I have routinely attached my coverletter, and I’m sure in many cases it could have been parsed prior to the resume…. thank you for that tidbit.

  • 5. Theresa  |  May 21, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    It’s so easy and quick to get a new email address. I wasn’t about to give our my “squidgirl” email unless I was applying for a job in marine biology. 🙂

    Is it preferred and OK to attached the cover letter as the first page of the resume? Is it an acceptable format to convert the Word document into a PDF when asked to include an attachment?

  • 7. Elizabeth  |  May 21, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    What if you’ve been heeding these recommendations since day 1 and you still never get any job interviews?

  • 8. nellis  |  May 26, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Thanks for all your thoughts! We’ve posted some responses on our latest blog post: https://brightestgreen.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/follow-up-thoughts-on-why-your-resume-is-getting-passed-over-when-you-apply-online/.

    If you have more questions, keep posting them and we’ll respond.

  • 9. Muskie  |  May 26, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Lets just say I’ve written a lot of cover letters. I know what it is like to write them and wonder why… Truth is lots of things happen, jobs get filled internally or not at all.

    However sticking to the 3, for #3 my resume is always called resume.doc, I’ve seen online somewhere where it was advicsed not to this, as some clueless person may overwrite your file with another resume.doc. I guess this is a risk, but with all the online systems most of the time I have to cut n’ paste my resume into some system.

    The solution to the resume.doc problem is to call your file andrewMcKayResume.doc or some such like that. I’m employed now, but I guess I could have lost out due to resume.doc…


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