(MoneyWatch) As someone who’s written about careers for a very long time, I get a lot of people asking me to please tell them why their resume isn’t landing them a job. In fact, I got the following email this morning:

I read your article about how to write a resume that would get a job interview and liked it very much. I am a recent MBA graduate and have started looking for a job in July. I have applied for about 44 job postings and have not received not one reply — not even a comment. I really appreciate your help. Could you please have a look at my resume and tell me you impression?

I  would not have asked you if I didn’t feel stuck. Your kind help is highly appreciated.

To read the answer to the question (have you guessed that there is a new editor at MoneyWatch who doesn’t like the “Dear EHRL format?), click here: Your resume is not the problem (update: link fixed)

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14 thoughts on “Your resume is not the problem

  1. Networking is the key. However, if “networking” brings to mind endless rounds of small talk with virtual strangers and, like me, you find that about as appealing as a root canal, I have a suggestion – volunteer. Get involved in an industry organization that allows you to develop (and showcase) your skills. You’ll build a meaningful network with people who will have first hand knowledge of your expertise.

  2. I would say it depends greatly on the recruitment system being used. I’ve used several and they all have people listed under the job they’ve applied for.

    The one I’m currently working with does have a questionnaire which rates people against key criteria but apart from that and noting if they’re serial appliers, the recruitment programmes I’ve used have all required a real life human to go through them.

  3. If the resume is part of the problem, I very strongly advocate engaging a professional resume writer. I have used them for over 25 years, and the same one since 2005. Professionally written resumes really do stand out from the homemade ones. I can instantly tell if an applicant has written his or her own resume. Professionally written resumes are much easier for me to read, to discern the working history story of the applicant. As a hiring manager, being able to very quickly grab the essential details from a resume is crucial. A very good professionally rendered resume can be had for $300 or less. If the resume helps to secure good employment with an attractive salary, then the payback can easily be under a month.

    1. As a recruiter and hiring manager I disagree. I’d give greater credence to a good personal written resume than a great professional one.

      One is an authentic representation of what the candidate can offer, the other is a crap-shoot.

      1. @Jeff M. Perhaps your experience is different than mine. I have seen far too many dreadful homemade resumes that maybe did not adequately exemplify the talents of the writers. Since I spend 10 to 20 seconds per resume reviewing a stack of 100 or more, I haven’t the time to try to read past formatting, spelling, grammar, and content problems to find the “real” person. If in the past 28 years I’ve overlooked a few stars, my career and the fortunes of my employers have not suffered for it.

        1. LTMG- 25 years ago I myself went to a professional resume source, it was a necessary cost. Today there is so many good resources I don’t feel it’s such a need. Evil HR and Ask A Manager are two great ones readily available.

          Truth is, you find good hires, I find good hires, both methods work fine.

  4. This is really great information. I was laid off on June 28th and have applied for over 50 jobs with maybe 3-4 calls. I see there are a vast amount of jobs in my state and am still puzzled by the few calls. One of the return calls I got for an interview came as a result of word of mouth, from an insurance broker I used previously. My resume has been updated frequently and I even changed some of the “key words” I use. I believe it is also about networking which unfortunately is not one of my strong suits. I’d say add the use of “key words” in your resume that match the job description posted is good and utilizing forums such as LinkedIn. A few calls I received got my resume from that site.

  5. Sigh. Ever since Moneywatch took over Bnet it has all gone downhill. So sad, since Bnet used to be a daily visit for me. Suzanne and Geoffrey James and a ton of other awesome business writers – all scattered to the four winds now.

    On topic – are you overqualified for the positions for which you’ve been applying? I see a lot of Master’s Degrees for relatively entry-level positions, and I have to say that an advanced education is usually the kiss of death. Since those managers know you’ll be leaving as soon as you find something in your field that pays what your education justifies, it really isn’t worth bringing you on and training you.

    I don’t mean to sound harsh but I see this quite a bit, unfortunately.

    1. Yeah, we’re all scattered. Geoffery is at Inc (so am I), Steve Tobak is at Fox and entrepreneur,com, Jessica Stillman is everywhere (literally! She must write like crazy.) BNET was super awesome and I still don’t understand why they killed it.


      There’s a new editor at MoneyWatch and I actually think she might make things better. I’m hopeful! I like it there, so I hope she can implement her ideas.

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