Not Getting Interviews? Here Are 2 Reasons Why!

As a career consultant, I often encounter students or alumni who tell me, “I’ve submitted so many applications, but I’m not getting any interviews.” These candidates may be (more than) qualified for the position but still receive a rejection – or sometimes no response. Often, these individuals feel discouraged, overwhelmed, and that they’re not enough, but the issue likely lies in their approach rather than in qualifications.

If you relate to this situation, there are 2 areas you may be overlooking: tailoring materials and networking. A combination of these 2 factors is crucial for your success in the job search.

Factor 1: Tailoring – The Job Description is a Prompt.

I’ve seen students and alumni who submit hundreds of copies of the same resume, which won’t pass an Applicant Tracking System (ATS; read about ATS here). Tailoring goes beyond superficial changes; instead, treat the job description as a prompt, seeking evidence of various qualifications like skills, experiences, and positive results. Be intentional about choosing which experiences and bullet points directly address the requested qualification. And yes, that means every resume and cover letter will look different based on the job description.

Tailor your resume on a word-by-word level. A wise colleague of mine told her students to build word clouds out of job descriptions, using generators like WordItOut, to identify the most common key terms. You can then substitute verbs, add bullet points to showcase skills, and decide which experiences to keep, expand, reduce, or remove.

Remember, no candidate fulfills every qualification listed. Even if you have 60% of the qualifications, apply anyway – you never know what the rest of the applicant pool looks like!

Tailoring your resume may help with bypassing ATS, but it should be combined with networking to increase your chances of receiving an interview offer.

Factor 2: Networking

On a scale of 1-10, how established is your network? (1 being “not at all” and 10 being “I’m the best networker there is!”)

Be honest and gentle with yourself when ranking your network on this scale. Assess the strength of your network and seek opportunities to expand it. Employers are more likely to hire people whom they know.

Meet recruiters at career fairs and networking events and follow-up with them on LinkedIn, join the UGA Mentor Program, and set up coffee chats with professionals in your desired field. These interactions serve dual purposes: information gathering and potentially securing an internal recommendation. You may bypass those pesky ATSs altogether by sending your resume directly to the professional after you’ve chatted with them and formally submitted your application.

Networking can be daunting – and it is doable. Set realistic goals, like “I will have coffee chats with 3-5 professionals this month.” Remember your “why” to fuel your drive during these conversations. One intentional conversation could be the difference between receiving a rejection email and having your resume passed internally in the company (I’ve seen it happen!). So, why let one conversation stop you from reaching your goal?

The Combination: Tailoring and Networking

By combining tailoring with networking, you exponentially improve your interview prospects; while it may slow your search, it allows for more purposeful, targeted applications.

You show care and genuine interest by having multiple, intentional touchpoints. You learn by analyzing the description and having chats, which will help you in interviews. When an employer can put a name to an enthusiastic face, they may feel greater certainty about your interest and experience.

For more tips and tricks on networking and tailoring your materials, visit your Career Consultant!

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