Resume shortcuts employers see through right away

It’s happened again.

No response to your job application.

You feel frustrated and maybe even a little weary of the process.

After all you’ve been firing out loads of resumes. that the problem?

Have you taken to applying to every position available without much thought?

Have you become lazy with your “job” of finding work?

It’s easy to become complacent about it.

Resume is done. Cover letter is done. Hit send and off it goes.

Here’s the problem with that.

Employers see right through it.

They spot these very common shortcuts and can interpret them as a sign you have no genuine interest in THEIR particular job.


Form cover letter

Hiring managers see hundreds of cover letters and resumes. They know when someone is using the same old form letter over and over. Nothing stands out. Nothing shows interest in meeting their needs.

Here’s what they think - you are applying for just any old job and not THEIR job.

And the biggest give-away? The letter that is addressed “To whom it may concern” when a contact name has been provided in the job posting. That one slip of laziness alone will see  your resume land in the trash.

A cover letter is the opportunity to communicate your unique qualifications and interest in the job. Take the time to make yours genuine and specific to the job opening.

Some employers read the letter first. Others read it after the resume, looking for some insight into your personality or communication style. Some won’t read it at all.

But why take a chance. Your letter could be the difference in getting an interview.

Customize it every time!

Need help?

Take the Agony Out of Cover Letter Writing


Not following the application instructions

Instructions for applying can be very simple or quite extensive.

Read and follow them.

Common requests are things like how to complete the subject line when applying by email, combining the cover letter and resume in one document, reference requests and addressing the application to someone in particular.

Here’s what a hiring manager thinks when you don’t follow their application requests. How badly do you want this job? What type of employee can they expect if you can’t follow simple requests? Are you just applying for any old job and not THIS one in particular?

It’s amazing how often application instructions are not followed. Some employers have even taken to indicating in their job posting that those who do not follow instructions will not be considered. Others feel the same but don’t say it.

You should not assume the employer won’t notice or care.

Follow the application instructions. If you haven't been, it could be a reason you are not hearing back. What a shame over something so simple.


Not obviously qualified for the job

If you are qualified for the job based on the description, make certain it is clear right up front in both your resume and cover letter. You have only seconds for the reader to make the connection.

This means customizing your resume every time.

A hiring manager with dozens of applications to read will not take the time to search through your resume or cover letter looking for some indication that you have the experience they need.

  • Use the words they have used in the job posting where possible so they instantly see the fit.
  • Don’t create a buzzword-filled professional profile that doesn’t give any actual details of your background or experience.
  • Get the critical points up front for each of your past positions. Re-order or change the focus of your accomplishments every time if you have to. Make sure the hiring manager recognizes you have the experience they need.
  • If you feel certain you are qualified for the job despite non-standard type experience it’s up to you to make the hiring manager see it too. They can’t read between the lines and don’t have time to figure out if you might be qualified. Take the time to make the connection obvious.

If you are not at all qualified for the position, don’t apply. Hoping the employer will magically think you are right for the job isn’t going to happen and not hearing back will only frustrate you. Your time would be better spent looking for the right opportunity.


You may feel like applying to as many openings as possible and as quickly as possible is the answer to finding a job.

And it may feel customizing your documents is a waste of time.

But stop with the shortcuts!

Aim for quality not quantity.

Take the time to make each application count.

You’ll have a much better chance of getting to an interview!


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Post by Margaret Johnston,

As a career event professional, Margaret brings valuable insight and knowledge to the recruitment, management and development of high-performance teams for the event industry. A strategic and inspiring leader, Margaret has held executive roles for several global event management companies and key roles in the start up and orchestration of many high profile and international events.