Five non-obvious reasons for not getting an interview despite loads of applications

On average people usually receive one interview invite for every ten jobs they apply for, (often the rate is better than this). If your own success rate is less than one interview per ten jobs applied for, something mysterious may be going on………….

Each year we help hundreds of students and graduates with their job search. Here are some of the most common reasons for not securing an interview:

1. Applying for non-existent vacancies

The issue: Securing work is impossible if there is no position actually available in the first place:

Quite a few ‘jobs’ advertised online are actually generic vacancies posted by recruitment agencies to encourage you to send your CV them, rather than specific vacancies where the position is available.

What you can do: Check:

– Does the job have a specific title and specific duties mentioned (rather than a huge list)?
– Does it have a specific location?
– Is the job with an actual employer or are you sending your CV to an agency? – not always obvious
– Is the job still actually available? It might be an idea to ring and ask if possible – vacancies can close early if the employer receives a large number of applications.

– If it’s with a recruitment agency, can you find an address and phone number for them online?

2. Poor spelling and grammar in your CV or applications:

The issue: Employers often tell us that they reject 50% of the applications they receive before actually looking at the person’s experience due to spelling or grammatical errors.

What you can do: Get someone to check your applications before you send them even if you’ve used the spell checker!

3. You like to ‘look’ for jobs but haven’t actually applied for many:

The issue: Lots of people browse vacancies without applying; it could be due to not being able to find jobs of interest, fear of rejection, stressing over the whole process, you don’t get round to applying…….

What you can do:

· If you see a few jobs you like, STOP……and start applying for them, apply for the one with the closest deadline first.

· Remember: as long as you show that you’ve got what they’re looking for then there’s usually no reason they wouldn’t look at your application (even if you’re convinced that nobody wants you to work for them because you’ve sent so many applications with no success).

· If you’re not sure about something: ring or email the employer and ask! Don’t put it off then realise you’ve missed the deadline.

· If you’re not really 100% sure you want the job, you could always apply anyway to test out your technique and see how you feel if you’re invited for interview.

· You need to apply for more than one vacancy: if it takes around ten applications to get one interview, securing work could be a slow process. Applying for a few jobs around the same time will also help you to avoid pinning all your hopes on one dream job.

· Once you’ve sent your application, find another job to apply for to avoid dwelling on your first application.

4. You’re using the ‘scattergun’ approach:

The issue: ‘Firing off’ hundreds of applications due to:

· Feeling the need to apply for every job advertised because it’s so difficult to find work.

· Assuming that submitting more applications increases the chance of securing and interview.

· Not being sure about the type of jobs to apply for, so just applying for everything.

Sounds logical but…………..

· Employers we speak to tell us that they want someone who understands their company and product so they reject any applications which are rushed and general (or even worse mention a competitor!)

· Although there’s some element of ‘chance’ involved, the odds are not the same as they would for a competition, where more entries more chances. If each application is the worst in the hundreds received by each employer you’ll be unlikely to get an interview.

What you can do:

· Stick to two or three types of jobs or sectors when applying for jobs so you can build up understanding of what they look for.

· Just go for things you think you might like even if you’re not 100% sure: you have to start somewhere.

· Make sure you tailor each application to the job: what are they looking for?

5. You’re only applying for jobs where there is a huge pool of applicants:

The issue:

Your chances of getting a job if there are hundreds or thousands of other applicants is slim.

There are usually loads of applicants if:

· It’s a really well known company.

· the vacancy has been on a popular site e.g. Monster, Reed
the job or sector is really popular e.g. media, journalism, fashion.

· it’s a well-known graduate scheme.

What you can do:

· No matter how many applicants there are, someone has to get the job so don’t be put off if it’s a job you really want, just apply for some other jobs with fewer applicants at the same time e.g. jobs which have only been advertised on an employer’s own site.

· Doing something e.g. voluntary work or a position you can use as a ‘stepping stone’ to address any ‘gaps’ in your experience (check with people in the industry you’re interested in to see what would be most useful) and carrying on applying.

· Applying for jobs with a ‘narrowed field’ of applicants: some jobs e.g. retail positions or general graduate schemes will attract all sorts of applicants as there’s no ‘filter’, whereas jobs where you need a specific qualification or previous experience e.g. coaching, maths degree required, will attract fewer applicants.

· Make sure your application is outstanding rather than just OK: have a look at or if you’d like more personalised feedback on your applications email us or ring 01244 513 066 (Chester campus) or 01925 534 235 (Warrington campus).


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