Everything looked like it was going in the right direction…..


You started a job search and covered off all the bases. You applied to a few jobs with a career marketing document that had the hallmarks of the “perfect modern” résumé.

It was finely target to your job search.

It was ATS friendly.

You quantified your accomplishments.

It used the modern combination format instead of the traditional reverse chronological or functional format.

It was easy to scan quickly with the human eye and was the perfect number of pages.

The résumé contained no career red flags like work gaps and job hopping (i.e. short work stints that aren’t contract).

You even made a point of highlighting that you live within a short commute.

Furthermore, you clearly showed you have 99% of the job qualifications in terms of hard and soft skills, education, professional development, and experience.

Theoretically you were the perfect candidate and it should have been a slam dunk for you to get the interview.

The reality is, you DIDN’T despite the fact that your résumé actually made it through the ATS (applicant tracking software system).

What gives?

Let’s peek behind the hiring curtain to find out what the possible explanation could be.


16 reasons why you didn’t get the interview

(even though you’re the perfect candidate on paper)


#1:  The employer changed the job experience requirements which rendered you either over qualified or under qualified.

#2:  The employer decided after the fact to not fill the vacancy. Maybe there was a budget cut or the company decided to re-organizie and putting the recruitment for this position on the back burner. Who knows. It didn’t have anything to do with your candidacy.

#3:  The employer was going around in circles and couldn’t move the process forward. The right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing. It was like watching a train wreck.

#4:  The employer didn’t know what they wanted. They were looking for that elusive “purple squirrel” – someone with everything on their wish list and then some. Nobody qualified (in their mind) and they kept looking.

#5:  The employer was not that motivated to fill the job. They didn’t have an urgent need for this person which begs the question why did they bother to look in the first place????

#6:  The employer was fishing to see who was out there for future reference. They wanted to fill their database with potential candidates they could come back to when they have an urgent need.

#7:  The employer’s intention was to fill the job with an internal candidate. They posted the job only to generate some potential external candidates as “back up” in the event the internal one didn’t work out.

#8:  The employer attracted more qualified candidates (lucky them) than they needed, so they drilled down to the first 12 the came across but you missed the cut.  The way to deal with this is to get your résumé to the employer as soon as you can. This demonstrates that you are really keen and could place you in the first wave of interviews.

#9:  The employer simply forgot to contact you. They put your résumé aside and then got sidetracked. This is why it’s a good idea to follow up with hiring manager to find out if they actually saw your résumé.

#10:  HR or the 3rd party recruiter chose to not pass your résumé on to the hiring manager. Another good reason why you should follow up with hiring manager to find out if they actually saw your résumé. There may be an opportunity to get your résumé in front of them.

#11:  The employer didn’t like what they saw after googling your name. It might not have been anything really serious or maybe it was.  You need to make sure all of your social media is squeaky clean.

#12:  The employer got you mixed up with an “undesirable” candidate with the same name as yours.  Although rare, this case of mistaken identity has happened. The candidate’s name was the same as a convicted criminal and they couldn’t get an interview to save their life. They decided to use their middle name and that solved the problem.

#13:  The employer was concerned with the inconsistent information across your career marketing documents. Make sure that your Linkedin, résumé, and cover letter contain the same important content like dates, key contributions, job titles, etc. Failure to do this creates a “red flag” for the reader and they might not bother contacting you for clarification.

#14:  The employer changed the location of the position and you were no longer within the desired commute range. They wanted someone close to where the job was and didn’t want to get involved in a relocation scenario. Or perhaps the job was originally a work at home opportunity which you said you preferred but then they wanted someone in the office which knocked you out of the running.

#15:  The employer discriminated against you that went beyond the job qualifications. It could have been your age, sex, ethnic/religious background, political views, even your sexual orientation. Make sure that you don’t reveal any hints about any of these things because you don’t know how they will be perceived. Use a neutral email address and be careful of what kind of personal information you include such as hobbies and interests.

#16:  The employer feared you would not be committed to the position. If you revealed that you had a side hustle,  they thought you would get distracted on the job and wouldn’t put 100% effort into it. Or your hobby or part-time gig didn’t align with their values. Whatever it was, it was nobody’s beeswax so don’t include this kind of information in your documents unless there’s a really good reason to do so. 

So, I think that wraps it up. If I forget anything, feel free to reach out to me to let me know and I’ll add it in.

The point of this article is to let you know that not getting the interview doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with your résumé or your credentials. Sometimes it’s totally out of your control so my advice is to just move on to the next opportunity.

What you do have control of is making sure you’ve got a résumé that’s going to get through ATS and generate interviews. If you’re not sure how to do this (it’s more complicated than you might think), I recommend you contact me for help.

Résumé and interview help is only a click away!

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Hi!  I’m Diana.

I leverage over 10 years recruitment and sales/marketing experience to create attention-grabbing résumés, cover letters, and Linkedin profiles that help job seekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired. You can learn more about my story here and about how I can help you here.

Need help? That’s what I’m here for!

Are you in the midst of a job search and not getting the results you want? Or are you’re thinking of making a change and want to make sure you get started off on the right foot? Then I recommend you reach out for some help. You can contact me directly here!

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