The job description was a perfect match for my experience. The company culture seemed like a perfect match for my personality. The mission resonated perfectly with my values. So I sent in my CV.
And got no response. Again.
Being ignored when you apply for a job you are qualified for is about as frustrating as… (okay, I just googled Most Frustrating Things…I got people who open cereal boxes at the wrong end, drivers who take up two parking spaces, and having to pay for a public bathroom. This is much more frustrating).
So why does it happen so often? Is it you? Is it them?
Sometimes, it really is them. They are disorganized, irresponsible, not sure what they want, etc. If that’s the case, though, there’s not much you can do about it. And they probably don’t deserve you, anyway.
So let’s focus on the things you can change; i.e., when it’s you.
Your CV does not communicate the relevant information easily
Let’s say you are an eclectic person who’s had a diverse and interesting career. You feel that your rich and varied experience, and the personality traits that your experience implies, are clear indicators that you would ace this position. However, you have not recently worked in a very similar position or trained in the standard route to such a position.
A hiring manager is not necessarily married to selecting the more “boring” applicant; s/he is, however, short on time. It’s not the hiring manager’s job to discover why you are the perfect match for this role; it’s your job to make that link clear as day and obvious within seconds (since the hiring manager will only scan your CV for a few seconds in the first round).
What to do?
Write a one – sentence description of yourself that details the experience, skills and traits that make you a great candidate for this job. This one-liner belongs at the top of your CV, right after your name and contact information. Fine tune or even completely rewrite this line to align perfectly with the specific job. Stick to the facts and tell the truth, in a positive and upbeat tone.
For example, if you have worked in management roles in educational institutions, and are applying for a role as a development director for a nonprofit, you might write: “A seasoned manager of educational systems with broad ranged experience raising funds through personal solicitations, large scale events, and foundation proposals.” There. Now the hiring manager knows that you have the experience they are looking for, even if your job titles don’t shout it out. Make sure to “prove” this statement throughout your CV by detailing your accomplishments in the field you are applying for in each position you have held.
You’re up against people with inside connections
Welcome to Israel. Ever hear of protexia? Israel is a small country, and each professional field is an even smaller family, with connections and relationships that often come into play during a candidate search. This does not mean that an unqualified person will get the position just because s/he knows the boss; but it does mean that a qualified person with a personal relationship inside the hiring company or organization is much more likely to get the interview.
What to do?
You live in Israel too. Use your own connections. It’s almost always possible to find some connection to the hiring organization or company. This can require some detective work: go online to the company’s site and look at the staff (junior and senior), as well as the board of directors. If you get lucky, you may find someone you know. Seek out people you know in similar companies or organizations who might have professional relationships with the one you have your eye on. Do your best to get your CV presented by someone on the inside; it can make the difference between being ignored and being invited for an interview.
Your CV raised red flags
This one covers a few different areas, some more professionally legitimate than others. A CV that has spelling or grammar mistakes can knock you out of the running: it implies either a lack of attention to detail, a lack of commitment to try your best to impress, or a poor education. A CV that raises suspicions that you are hiding something about your professional experience or training can also disqualify you. For example, if you don’t note the years that you served in various positions, you may raise the suspicion that you are trying to hide large employment gaps. Employers and headhunters are adept at reading between the lines on a CV.
A more objectionable reason that you may be disqualified is out and out discrimination. It’s hard to hide if you are a man or a woman on your CV, so you can’t really sidetrack that unfortunate type of prejudice. However, in Israel people like to guess your political orientation, age, and values through the information on your CV. Depending upon the hiring manager’s personal bias, you may be discriminated against for living in a settlement over the Green Line, or for belonging to a left-leaning activist group; or perhaps you live quite a distance from the job, and they decide to interview only people who live nearby.
What to do?
Leave unnecessary information out of your CV. No one is going to write you a snail mail letter about this job, so you can leave out your address, as well as your land line (which gives the employer information about your geographical whereabouts). An email address and a cell phone number are all the contact information an employer will need to find you. The same goes for personal information that could get you stereotyped unfairly (hmm, he has ten children? Must be ultra-Orthodox, probably wouldn’t fit in here; She made Aliya in 1960? We’d prefer someone younger for this role.)
It’s no fun to be let down or ignored. But there are things you can do to avoid it. You may need to be more proactive and savvy at getting your CV to the top of the pile, but it can be done. Don’t give up – the right job may be right around the virtual corner.