9 Reasons Your Resume Gets Rejected

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 30, 2015

The REAL Reasons You're Not Getting Hired

On average, resumes are received 200 seconds after being submitted. Once a hiring manager lays eyes on it, he/she will spend anywhere from 5 to 7 seconds reading it before making a decision to pass it on or trash it. If you haven't been getting any callbacks, it's likely you're ending up in the trash. But why?

Look, let's start by admitting the hiring process is an imperfect and sometimes unfair science. Companies could see hundreds of resumes for a single opening, and since time is of the essence hiring managers have no choice but to quickly weed out the resumes they initially deem unfit. That means you could very well be the perfect person for the job, but if your resume isn't packaged correctly or if you have a glaring error on it, you won't even get a chance to prove it.

So what are the cardinal sins and the mistakes that raise the red flags that lead your resume to the recycling bin? Some of them are common sense, yet hiring managers the world over continue to see the same errors made time and time again. Here they are for you to avoid.

9. You Include Your Address

Many years ago, you were probably taught to start your resume with your name and address at the top. Well, times have changed.

You probably don't realize it's a problem, but you can be screened out automatically if your address is atop the resume and the person reading it thinks you'll have too long of a commute. Maybe you don't mind the drive or perhaps you'll consider relocating, but when someone is going through hundreds of resumes in an attempt to find the best one, they start out the process looking for reasons to exclude, not include. So don't give them a reason to eliminate you.

Simply put the state in which you live, or don't include an address at all. If they like the rest of your resume and need to know, they'll likely email or call you -- which is already a win.

8. You're Lying

Would you like it if your prospective company told you one thing before a job interview only to find out they lied upon meeting in person? No, you wouldn't. So why would you even think about doing the same thing to them?

There are thousands of horror stories involving hiring managers who thought they had a great candidate -- and in fact hired these people -- only to find out they were lying about something on their resume. Being a couple of credits shy of graduating college is not the same thing as having a degree, a 3.5 GPA is not the same as a 4.0, and saying you spearheaded a $100 million sale is not at all similar to being a junior member of a team that closed the sale.

We live in the age of the Internet and connectivity, with copious amounts of information at our fingertips. That means if you lie, chances are you'll be found out. And after that happens, it will be very clear why your resume is tossed at the mere sight of your name. So just be honest. It's a lot easier.

7. You Fail to List Accomplishments

This is a biggie and it drives the people making hiring decisions nuts.

Too many jobseekers list their job responsibilities on resumes instead of their accomplishments. If you're a sales representative, no one cares that you were responsible for all sales in the eastern United States and dealing with customer service from inception to delivery. Your job duties are not interesting or useful to someone looking to hire you. However, if you say "Increased sales among existing clients by 75% and brought in $5 million from new clients," then you're showing your results. And companies are really only interested in what kind of positive results they can expect should they decide to invest in you.

Don't just talk about your work, show your work. And be specific.

6. Your Online Reputation Is Bad

These days, you have your paper resume and your online resume.

According to a recent survey by BeHiring, 68% of hiring managers will look you up on Facebook. That means even if the resume you submit is decent, you also have to be aware of what's going to show up about you on a Google search. Or Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you're a writer then you want to be found quickly online and in many high profile places, because that shows you're getting published and your work is in demand. But if an image search of your name returns a picture of you doing a keg stand or your Instagram account is nothing but duckface selfies, there's a good chance you'll be taken out of the running right then and there.

Clean up your online reputation before submitting your resume.

5. You Didn't Keep It Short Enough

Think of your resume like an elevator pitch. 

You're in an elevator with the person you need to talk to, but you only have a minute. You need to know the most important things to say and cram them into the time you have. Leave out the fluff and focus on what really matters, because people are busy and you need to get their attention quickly. Well, the same goes for resumes. Advice varies greatly in this area and the length of the resume will depend somewhat on the job in question, but generally one page for every 10 years of work experience is the standard to which many stick. But whether you do one page or two, don't go far beyond that because with hiring managers taking only 5 to 7 seconds to read your entire resume, you need to make a concerted effort to only include the things about which they care.

Keep it simple and relevant.

4. You Included a Photo of Yourself

Your resume is no place for a selfie.

Unless you're an actor or you're applying for a job that necessitates a headshot, do not put a picture of yourself on your resume. Why? The survey from BeHiring found 76% of hiring managers automatically reject resumes that include pictures of the applicants. It doesn't specify why, but I imagine it's because unnecessarily including a picture of yourself on a resume denotes high amounts of narcissism and sends the message you're all about yourself. Not exactly the type of person you want to introduce to a team environment that depends on cohesion to thrive.

And while we're at it, unless you're going for a creative design position, knock off the multi-colored paper and weird fonts for resumes.

3. You Have an Inappropriate Email Address

I can't believe this still has to make the list. But it does.

Make sure your email address is professional. Use your name or initials or something that isn't ridiculous. But for the love of all things holy, don't use a stupid email address. You know the one I'm talking about. The one you've had since the AOL days you created when you were 16 that says "420AllDay@______.com." Or "SeXXXyBabe69@______.com." No. Just...no.

If you don't have a professional email address, get one. Create one from Yahoo or Gmail, but keep it clean. Keep it free of questionable references to even more questionable activities. Make that email the one you use strictly for work purposes. And let's make 2015 the year we finally don't have to list this piece of advice.

2. You're Boring & Unoriginal

If you want to be noticed, you have to stand out.

You have so much to say about yourself and only a matter of seconds to do so. So knowing that, why would you stick with the boilerplate resumes that seem to infest every hiring manager's stack? Be memorable! Use what's unique about yourself as a candidate to stand out, and highlight your strengths and accomplishments right at the top of your resume to get noticed. It can be as easy as changing a few words. For instance, you didn't lead a project, you orchestrated it or executed it. Instead of creating an initiative, you pioneered it.

Also, some people change the titles of sections on their resumes. Instead of "Skills," try something like "The Things I'm Great At." A few differences in word choices and phrases could be the thing that stands out and gets you a phone call or email.

1. You Have Typos

Proofread, dammit!

Your resume and cover letter are the first things your prospective employer notices about you. It is your first impression, even before you can make a physical first impression. Although the salary to different jobs will vary, this is the first step in asking someone to invest thousands of dollars in you. That is why there is no excuse -- no Earthly reason whatsoever -- for you to have a typographical error on your resume.

Proofread it carefully. Put it through Grammarly. Or, better yet, find that obnoxious English major and grammar nerd in your group of friends (there's always at least one), and put him/her to work. Failure to do this will end with a mistake on your resume, and BeHiring said the presence of even one spelling or grammar mistake means automatic disqualification. It's a shame when qualified people aren't given an opportunity because of a totally preventable mistake, but it makes sense because if you can't even bother to get your resume right, there's little guarantee you'll work hard if hired.

Fix Up Your Resume, Then Negotiate

After you fix your resume and the callbacks start flooding in, you'll eventually get some job offers. Then it'll be time to negotiate. And Salary.com can help you get paid fairly what you do.

The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.

Good luck.