Top Ten Reasons Why 98% of Job Applications Fail

job search

Looking for a new job can be a deeply frustrating process. According to job market expert Workopolis, a whopping 98% of job seekers for a specific job opening are eliminated at the initial resume screening stage, and only the top 2% ever make it through to the interview stage.

If you’re applying for anything from an internship to a top role, here are the top reasons that you might not be getting the job you’re applying for:

Resume Spamming

The most common mistake that job seekers make today is mass applying to a myriad of jobs with a one-size-fits-all resume that is designed to cover a wide range of employers and job opportunities. This is known as resume spamming.

Most job seekers are under the mistaken assumption that if they send out more applications, this significantly increases their chances of getting hired. It doesn’t.

A generic “one-size-fits-all” resume is completely inappropriate for today’s increasingly specialized marketplace. The job requirements for every role is unique, and each employer will be emphasizing different qualities and attributes, even when the job titles are similar.

Recruiters generally spend an average of 6.5 seconds initially scanning resumes. If your resume has not been customized for the specific job opportunity and there is not a clear and obvious connection between the job description and your resume, your application will end up in the recycle bin.

With so many candidates competing for a specific job opening at any given time, using a generic resume as the basis of your job search strategy is a complete waste of time.

Resume Screening Software

Because of the high volume of responses for most job openings, employers and recruiters now store submitted resumes in applicant tracking systems (ATS). This means that if your resume doesn’t contain a certain percentage of the exact keywords used in the job description, your job application is unlikely to be found during the recruiter’s search for qualified applicants.

Furthermore, job applicants sometimes use professional templates to create their resume and submit it in .pdf format to retain the special formatting they have used. The problem is that some ATS software cannot read PDF, DOCX, RTF, PNG or JPG formats. If the ATS is preventing your résumé from being seen by a recruiter or hiring manager, you’re not being seen.

The number of applicants rejected by software scanning is as high as 50%, according to Forbes.

No Cover Letter

The cover letter is a staple in the job hunting process. It is a key part of marketing your personal brand. Yet, far too many job seekers underestimate the importance of a well-written cover letter, choosing to focus all of their energy on the resume and ignoring the cover letter altogether.

The fact of the matter is, a strong and compelling cover letter is equally as important as an impressive résumé. Yes, not every recruiter will read the letter at the initial stage, but it will be part of your application file, and will play a key role when you are being considered for the position. No matter how in-depth your resume is, it’s not enough to tell your whole story to a potential employer.

A well-written cover letter allows you to explain why your background, skills and experience make you a perfect candidate for the role. Not sending a cover letter speaks volumes about your work ethic and professionalism, and this will have a negative impact on your job application.

Badly Written Cover Letter

The only thing worse than not sending a cover letter is sending a badly-written cover letter. A cover letter is the first thing a potential employer sees. It is a powerful brand marketing tool that should engage the reader and compel him or her to read your resume. If your cover letter is generic, poorly written or riddled with mistakes, the recruiter or hiring manager will have no incentive to move on to your resume.

Poor LinkedIn Profile

Like your resume, your LinkedIn profile is a critically important marketing tool because LinkedIn is the No. 1 resource recruiters use to research candidates. Nine times out of ten, recruiters and HR managers will review your profile to determine if they should contact you about an opportunity. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile or it is of poor quality, this will negatively impact your job application.

Boring Resume Format

Your resume is your most critical marketing tool. You’ll never get a second chance to make a strong impression, so it is critically important to ensure that the first impression you make is the right one.

The thing is, recruiters consider your cover letter and resume a snapshot of who you are. If you put a lot of effort into your resume, this will send a very strong message about your work ethic and demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in the position.

On the flip side, if your resume is bland or uninspiring with a basic format that looks the same as hundreds of other resumes, this will create negative assumptions about your personality and potential job performance.

plain resume

The poor quality of your resume will come across as a representation of the quality of work that a potential employer can expect from you. Even if you are fully qualified for the job, your application will likely fail.

Your resume is your one and only chance to capture a potential employer’s attention, and you have an average of just six seconds to make an impression. It is critically important to have a professional looking resume that is not only customized for the position, but well-organized, eye catching and attention-grabbing.

Not Qualified for the Position

One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is applying for jobs they are not qualified for. This can have a truly damaging effect on your personal brand and damage your chances at future positions with the company too. According to a survey of 1,500 recruiters and hiring managers, irrelevant applications was the biggest turnoff for 30% of them.

In fact, 43% of those prospective employers said that they would blacklist those candidates from any future jobs by supressing their names from showing up in future resume searches. If you apply for a job you’re not qualified for, not only do you not have any chance of getting that job, you could inadvertently be killing off any chances of working for that company in future.

Poor Social Media Presence

Social media has become part of our lives, and it is important to understand that its influence is tremendous. Even if you have strict privacy safeguards, anything you publish on Facebook and Twitter in particular can still be broadcast to unforeseen audiences.

In a recent Workopolis survey, almost half – 48% – of companies said they have turned down candidates based on what they have seen on their social profiles. More than 93% of recruiters admit that they regularly check Twitter, Facebook status and Instagram photos of their applicants in order to get a better overview of the personality of job candidates. The influence of your online presence is enormous. It can easily cost you a job opportunity if it’s a poor one.

Lack of Passion or Enthusiasm for the Job

Studies show that 9 times out of 10, it is not the most qualified candidate that gets the job. The biggest reason for this is a lack of enthusiasm for the particular job and company you’ve applied for. No company wants to hire someone who isn’t excited about the opportunity to work for them and simply wants a paycheck.

In an interview situation for a job you really want, the potential employer will be able to see how important this job is to you simply by the way you talk about it. You’ll bring an energy and attitude that will not go unnoticed by the interviewer. Your eyes will light up, you’ll talk with your hands, and you’ll know all the details about the industry and company without having to stress yourself out over remembering all of them.

Someone who is excited to get a job and is not afraid to let that excitement be known is going to have a better chance than someone who talks in a monotone and with little or no emotion. When it comes down to choosing between a candidate who is passionate for the job, or a candidate that is perfectly qualified for the job, 9 times out of 10, employers will go for the passionate one. After all, you can have all of the skills in the world, but if you don’t have the inspiration or interest, you won’t be motivated to do the best job that you can.

This is why it is pointless applying for a job unless you’re passionate about it. You won’t be able to mask your true feelings for the role unless you’re a really good actor.

Lack of Personal Branding

With such high levels of competition in the contemporary job market, simply having the requisite skills and qualifications is no longer sufficient for you to effectively differentiate yourself from the competition and stand out from the crowd. If you want to beat other candidates for your dream job, you need to build a strong and vibrant personal brand that emphasizes your unique value.

Building a personal brand is all about forging and highlighting your own unique and unforgettable identity. There might be many candidates with similar qualifications, but there’s only one YOU. If you don’t stand out, you will always lose out to people who have taken the time to build their personal brand.