Dear job seeker: This is why recruiters are ignoring your application

Dear job seeker: This is why recruiters are ignoring your application

Since I've been looking to fill a couple of key roles on my team recently, I've had to review stacks of resumes and cover letters.

While some candidates do a good job of presenting themselves professionally, I am, to be frank, astounded by the number of candidates who still haven't even nailed the basics.

Unless you're one of those A.I. gods that are being snapped up by tech titans for six- and seven-figure sums, like The New York Times recently wrote about, you'll probably need to put some work into polishing your resume and crafting a cover letter that cuts through the clutter.

Here are seven unprofessional things that some candidates do that ensure they will receive a rejection note from the company's HR department--or no response at all:

1. Failing to do basic research on the company--and position-- you're applying for.

This phenomenon is usually reflected in what is obviously a generic form letter with absolutely no customization at all. This immediately screams laziness and lack of serious intent.

With so much information available online, from the company website, to top management's blog posts on LinkedIn or Medium, there's absolutely no excuse for not being able to say something that speaks specifically to the company or the role you're applying for.

Pro tip: In your cover letter, show you did your homework and accentuate the positive. Play up the company's recent sales successes or awards and explain why you want to help play a direct role in their success.

2. Writing an incomplete or poorly written cover letter.

Next to your resume, this is the most important first document you will be presenting to a recruiter. The cover letter tells the recruiter why you are interested in the role and why you believe you are qualified for it.

And yet, so many candidates send one or two-line cover emails along with their resume. Or, if they do decide to invest a few minutes to write something longer than just one or two sentences, it's unconvincing, and often riddled with grammatical and spelling errors.

These "applications" get moved quickly into the "not interested" folder.

Pro tip: Write at least two or three paragraphs introducing yourself, explaining why you are interested in the company and the role being advertised, and why you believe you've got the right qualifications for the job.

3. Using an informal, or even flippant, tone in your cover letter.

I'm amused by the attempts some candidates make at trying to strike an informal tone in their very first communication. Some have even attempted to be humorous. Maybe that works with some recruiters, or at some companies, but it's a risky strategy.

Pro tip: Don't try to be funny or clever in your cover note. Stay professional.

4. Applying for a job when you have little or no relevant experience.

I'm amazed by the brazenness with which some candidates apply for roles for which they clearly have no demonstrated experience. For fresh graduates out of college or graduate school, this is to be expected. But for candidates who have been working in an industry and a function for at least a few years or more, suddenly applying for a role that has nothing to do with the work you've been doing for the past several years is, well, not going to work.

Pro tip: Even if you don't meet the minimum years of experience as outlined in the job description, at least have some experience that is directly relevant to the job. Otherwise, don't bother applying.

5. Failing to include a photo in your LinkedIn profile.

Having a complete, up-to-date, well-written, and factually accurate LinkedIn profile is an absolute must for any candidate looking to get past the first screening for a role. But the mother of all mistakes has to be the lack of a profile photo, or an otherwise unprofessional shot that doesn't clearly show your face.

Pro tip: Invest in a professional headshot. If you're truly pressed for time or money, get a friend to take 10 to 15 shots of you in natural light with a smartphone, and pick the best one of those.

6. Using multiple fonts and colors on your multi-page resume.

I recently received a resume that ran on for seven pages and was filled from top to bottom with information about the candidate in multi-colored fonts of varying sizes. It was dizzying to look at--and impossible to read.

Pro tip: Keep your resumes concise, and roughly in line with the standard format you see everyone else use. Use a limited number of font sizes, and stick entirely too black and white. Boring? Maybe. Will it land you an interview? Perhaps

7. Misspelling names--like your own.

I know it's hard to believe, but one candidate actually did just that: He misspelled his own name! Of course, that's rare (thankfully). But what isn't rare is misspelling important names.