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3 Types of Candidates Who Struggle With Landing Interviews

By: Bart Turczynski

You knew finding a job wouldn’t be a breeze, but now you’re getting hot under the collar. You’re familiar with all the job boards out there, you send out resumes every day, you’ve even tweeted at that friend of a friend who runs his own company to ask about any openings available.

You’re beginning to feel that you’re on a fast track to becoming a recruitment statistics outlier — not of the good kind.

 Of course, job hunters are different on the individual level. However, for practical purposes, we can actually tease out certain types of candidates who just can’t make their resumes work to their advantage.

Read on to find out which type you are, how you can fix your resume, improve your employability, and finally land that job.


1. The Gapper

If you’ve left the job market for long stretches of time more than once, recruiters will notice. Unfortunately, they’ll become wary of your candidacy. Sure, life is life. However — even if sympathetic — recruiters have their own job to do. They want to find the best talent and want them to stick around.

Gaps make you look undependable. Since recruitment takes a long time and is a costly procedure, recruiters will avoid hiring gappers.

Tips on how to fix employment gaps on your resume

Yes, people lie on their resumes, but lying can backfire in the long run. Recruiters might run a background check during the recruitment process or even after hiring you. 

On the other hand, you aren’t obliged to actively draw attention to each and every gap.

For most job seekers, employment gaps are limited to periods when they were between jobs and actively looking for new employment.

Breaks like this — a few weeks or a couple of months long — can be fixed on your resume.

Spend some time thinking about that period. Recall what you were up to in that time. If you took online courses or attended workshops, great. Volunteer work is always a positive addition to your resume, too.

Non-standard work experience (e.g., helping out at an NGO or doing some minor freelancing work) can go in your experience section to bridge that gap.

What you want your resume to say is pretty much this: “Yes, I have a gap in employment here, but here’s what I did in the meantime.”

Stretches of unemployment that lasted more than half a year are considered long-term unemployment. This is a non-starter for many recruiters. Breaks like this are a stain on anyone’s resume and require an explanation.

In that case, make a short note in the resume next to the gap — this could even be a one-word explanation in parenthesis, e.g. (parenting). You’d then explain this in more detail in the cover letter.


2. The Rolling Stone

Recruiters want to see a broad and varied experience section — but hop from job to job too much and you become a rolling stone.

A rolling stone gathers no moss — but unfortunately not in a good wayjob-hopping is more damaging to career prospects than current unemployment or age.

Tips on how to fix a rolling stone’s resume

If you’re the rolling stone, type up just a few career-defining positions. If it’s not immediately obvious which jobs count as milestones, choose the gigs you held longest.

You should obviously be tailoring your resume anyway, so it’s best to choose jobs that are most relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Also, make sure you explain how you’ll contribute to the company’s bottom line. Convince the recruiter that hiring you is a bet worth making.

Pro tip: In practical terms, what you’ll need is a resume objective. A resume objective is a short introduction located just below your contact information. This is where you’ll introduce yourself as a competent professional and explain how you’ll contribute to the company’s success.

Here’s an example:

Meticulous Certified Public Accountant with an MBA and +3 years of experience in specialized tax services. Seeks to apply technical and professional expertise to grow in the new role of Management Consultant at company X.


3. The  Hidden Gem

Some candidates don’t do well as managers of their own personal brand. Despite a solid education, numerous accolades, and vast experience, they don’t really know how to sell their skills to potential employers.

Their resumes are dry because they just assume everything is obvious.

All they need is to add a bit of oomph to their resume.

Fix the hidden gem’s resume by focusing on skills

If there’s a take-home message for hidden gems, it’s this: no skills is obvious.

You’ve got to add skills featured in the job ad to your resume if you possess them. Don’t hope that recruiters will assume you can do something just because you’re applying.

This is all the more important since big companies use Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software. An ATS application scans resumes in search for particular keywords. These usually include skill keywords.

If you fail to mention a skill on your resume, the algorithm assumes you don’t possess it. If your resume doesn’t land enough hits, it gets discarded.

You might want to switch over to the combination resume format to showcase your skills.

You’ll still be providing information about your employment in the experience section. However, instead of typing up a vague description of the position, you’ll list the skills you used under appropriate subheadings.

So instead of writing:

Data Entry Specialist

Entering data provided by customers and reporting results to the management board.

You’ll write something more along these lines:

Data Entry Specialist

Analytical Thinking Skills

  • Increased efficiency of data entry team by 17% by transitioning the office from Excel to Access and SQL databases.
  • Improved management board’s understanding of the data through mastery of Excel pivot tables and macros.


Universal conclusions

No matter what type you are, everyone’s resume would benefit from more specificity.

  • Rewrite each sentence to distil it to its bare essence. Provide concrete examples of what you can do (especially if you can quantify it), explain glaring gaps but don’t be overly apologetic.
  • Remember to make use of the cover letter to provide the recruiter with additional evidence of your qualities and to explain your intentions.
  • Don’t just stick to the biggest job sites out there, check out niche job sites which might actually provide offers that are more in line with your expectations. There are dozens of niche job boards to choose from.

In the end, the easier you make your application for the recruiter to read, the greater the chances you’ll seal the deal.