Many of us are familiar with the following scenario:  A dream job opens. You furiously update and polish your resume or CV to a high gloss. The grammar is pristine; the content is compelling. Everything seems perfect when you hit submit.

Then, radio silence. Days, then weeks pass. No follow up e-mail. No phone call.

Your resume is languishing in virtual oblivion, consigned to the digital slush pile.

The worst part? You have no idea why. If there’s a mistake, you can’t see it. It’s a state of affairs that can reduce even the most confident job seeker to a state of insecurity.

So what’s the answer? Why is your resume or CV not getting traction?

Let’s discuss a few of the most common reasons why job hunters fail to get a response.

You’re aiming too high

It’s great to have ambition — you won’t get far in the world of finance without it. Yet it’s important to temper that ambition with a dose of clear-eyed realism. If you’re aiming for a job for which you’re patently unqualified, don’t expect those doing the hiring to be awed by your confidence. Chances are just as likely your excessive ambition will read as poor judgment — or time-wasting impertinence.

Your career objectives and experience don’t dovetail with the job for which you’re applying

It sounds elementary, but this is an all too common error. It’s critical that your career objectives or personal statement are relevant to the specific job for which you’re applying. Instead of taking a scattershot approach, you should make sure each resume is targeted for the company and the position you’re seeking.  Remember, specificity counts. This is a task that requires a scalpel, not a hammer. Your resume should give the impression that you want this job, not a job.

Your resume is a doorstop

Recruiters and hiring professionals are busy people. Nobody wants to read a multi-decade overview of your career in forensic detail. Stick to the important points and cut the fluff. If your work experience is more than a decade old it’s usually less relevant and requires less space. Don’t spend paragraphs detailing your personal interests or other extraneous information. Drill down to what really sets you apart — and do it in one page, with two as an absolute maximum.

Your resume is flouting convention

We just noted that recruiters are busy and hate having their tme wasted. That’s one reason why they want everything to be as uniform as possible. That means no bizarre formats or fonts. Write your resume or CV in Microsoft Word. Pass on the urge to include graphics or a photo. A photo isn’t likely to help your cause — but it could very well hurt it.

You’ve got an unexplained gap

There are a variety of reasons why people have a break in employment. Maybe you took a sabbatical. Or you had health problems that have since been resolved. Perhaps you wrote the Great American Novel. Whatever the reason, if your gap isn’t artfully explained, odds are good a hiring professional will fill in the blank with a much less flattering assumption: Somebody let you go, and you haven’t been able to find new employment for an extended period. Fairly or not, this is a major red flag for recruiters and HR people, who are putting their professional reputation on the line when endorsing candidates. If you’ve got a gap, don’t let it sit there unacknowledged in the hope it won’t be noticed. It will, so get out in front and explain it.

You’re selling yourself short

The world of finance doesn’t reward shrinking violets. You need to be your own best advocate. It all begins with your resume or CV. It needs to function as a short yet utterly convincing advertisement for why you’re ideal for the job. Obviously, you can’t fudge the facts — but you should present yourself in the best possible light. This doesn’t mean recycling a bunch of banking industry jargon or calling yourself a “rock star” employee. Recruiters have seen it all before. Your job is to intrigue them enough to get your foot just inside the door. Honesty, enthusiasm, well-matched skills and a compelling personal narrative represent your best chance to get out of the slush pile — and into your dream job.

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