Resume Writing

17 Reasons Why Resumes Are Rejected

You’ve put together what you believe to be the perfect resumé based on the job advertisement. You send out your application and wait. A week or two passes, yet you don’t hear anything from the employer. You begin to wonder what went wrong. You begin to ask, “did I send it to the right address?” “Was I not qualified?” “Did I submit it on time?” But all you hear is silence. Then, you start searching for reasons why resumes are rejected. We all have been there are some points in our lives.

There are many reasons why job applicants aren’t as successful in their job hunt as they were hoping to be. Listed below are 17 of the most common reasons why resumes are rejected by recruiters, and their remedies. These reasons are in two categories; those within your control, and those beyond your control:

Let’s begin with those within your control:

1. Wrong contact details 

In a rush to be the first applicant for a job opening, many applicants submit their resumés with the wrong contact information. They may have sent a resumé with an old, incorrect, or incomplete contact number. There is also the possibility that they misspelled their email address or the document software they are using revised the email address suffix (from to, for example).  

Most recruiters will not spend time searching for your correct contact details. They would instead move on to the next applicant. Mistakes like that would send an impression to the recruiter that you are not thorough with your work and, in fact, miss out on vital information. 


Proof-read your reumé before submitting your application. Make sure all your details are accurate and current. If you don’t do so, you’ll waste a well-put-together resumé if you are unreachable. And you’ll lose a perfectly good employment opportunity, too!

2. Unprofessional details

If you submit a resumé with an email address that reads like “” or”,” chances are your resumé might be rejected because of the unprofessional nature of your email address.


Place a decent email address in your resumé. An email address containing your name, initials, or combination of both like or would be better received than the email examples above. If you don’t have one, take the time to create one. Having a proper email address would greatly benefit your applications.

3. Weird hobbies

Some job seekers tend to over-impress. Although true, they place hobbies that range from “collecting guns” to “completing their stuffed Owls-of-the-World showpiece.” They think that by placing unique and exotic hobbies, they could pique the hiring manager’s curiosity and make that a conversation piece during the interview. This stunt is a surefire guarantee that your resumé gets rejected by the hiring manager.


Your hobbies are not what the company is looking for in an applicant. Impress them with your qualifications and skills. Reserve your curiosities for break room conversations.

4. Generic Resumé

Many job seekers put together a resumé with all their details and end up with more than two pages of work and skills information. There are instances where some information presented in the resumé is not essential to the job. Recruiters spend 5-7 seconds reading your resumé (research). If recruiters see too much unnecessary information and not what they’re looking for, your resume would be rejected.


Don’t send the same resumé for different job applications. Tailor-fit your resumé to the job you are applying for. The more relevant information you can present to recruiters at first glance, the higher your chances are of getting to the next step.  

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5. Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Many companies have shifted to online recruitment to increase their applicant coverage. This shift has also lead to an increased number of applicants, both qualified and unqualified. Companies resort to automated Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to sort through the voluminous applications they receive. The ATS sorts through all the applications the system receives using filters preset by the company. The software application will ignore resumés that do not have keywords relevant to the vacancy. Those applications that pass the filtering process goes into the inbox of the hiring managers. Those that get filtered out get flushed from the system.


Same as the solution above, tailor-fit your resumé to the job you’re applying for. Make sure you pick up on keywords highlighted in the job posting.

6. Font and formatting

Many applicants, especially those new to the corporate world, want their resumés to have that Wow-factor. They will try to cram as many colors, designs, and fonts as they possibly can. They end up with a resumé that’s more of an event poster than an office document. Even if you’re applying for a graphic designer position or an entertainment company, the hiring manager will still want to read your credentials. If they have to navigate through your resumé to find anything, your resumé would be rejected.


Remember the 5-7 seconds rule? Make your resumé as clear and legible as possible. You may put colors on your document, but limit this to two warm colors at most. Use one to two easy-to-read serif and sans serif fonts like Calibri and Arial. Stay away from calligraphy and script fonts. Lastly, your font size should be between 10 – 16 pts, depending on their use.

7. Spelling and Grammar 

As you tailor-fit your resume for the job you’re applying for, you will be doing edits and amendments to the information contained within. There is a possibility that in your rush to finish your resumé, you may misspell some words or construct your sentences incorrectly. Submitting a resumé with these issues is a sure-fire way of your resumé getting rejected. 


Proofread and spell-check your resumé a couple of times. Let someone else review your resumé. They could provide valuable insight regarding your resumé. You can also let your word processor software review your resumé. Most word processing software has built-in spelling and grammar checkers that you can activate and use. If you want a second opinion, you can also subscribe to application software like Grammarly.  

8. Late Submission

You saw the job posting on the first day of the month, tailor-fit your resumé based on the job ad, proofread and spell-checked it over and over, and submitted your resume five days before the deadline was at month’s end. A week after the deadline, you didn’t get a call. You’re wondering what you did wrong when you followed the steps above religiously. The answer is simple; you sent in your application too late.

Even if companies open their job posting for weeks or months, most hiring managers stop reviewing resumés after receiving a fair number of suitable applicants. They may still accept submissions but might just keep them on file. So, even if you submitted your application before the deadline, there is a good chance your resumé may be ignored. Unless the company hasn’t found a suitable candidate, you missed the opportunity to get your resumé reviewed. 


Submit your resumé at the soonest possible time. Don’t procrastinate. Just because the job posting doesn’t close for weeks, this is not an invitation for you to take your time. Remember, you might not be the only qualified candidate. The sooner you get your foot in the door, the better your chances of getting the job.

9. Job Location

Sometimes there is a job opening in a location far from your current location. However, you deem you are the ideal candidate for the job and submit your application. If the company is looking to have the position filled immediately, there is a good chance your resumé might be rejected.  


Let the hiring manager know that you are willing to relocate and can move immediately. Indicate your intent in your cover letter and resumé. That way, whichever document the hiring manager looks at, they will know you are willing, available, and ready to work with them.

We have discussed the factors that can lead to your resumé getting rejected, which you can rectify on your own.  

Now, let’s discuss reasons that are beyond your control:

10. Discriminatory Hiring Manager

There are unfortunate incidents where an applicant’s resumé falls into the hands of a hiring manager with a quirky prejudice. More often than not, it could be discriminatory. Other times it’s their being unnecessarily picky. And on rare occasions, it would be both. Whichever the case may be, it will end up with you’re resumé getting rejected.


There is no quick-fix to this obstacle. However, you can increase your chance of getting the company to hire you if you can find someone from the inside who can persuade the hiring manager to give your application a chance. Again, this is not easy, and the hiring manager may still let their biases rule over sound judgment. But it could also go the other way, and you find yourself getting the job.

11. Overwhelmed Hiring Manager

There are times when a company posts a job advertisement that attracts many qualified applicants. This situation, coupled with a hiring manager that tends to get overwhelmed by the number of applicants, increases the probability that your resumé may be ignored. 


Contact the hiring manager and follow-up on your application 2-3 days after you sent it in. Ask for confirmation of receipt of your resumé. Be prepared to answer questions from the hiring manager regarding the job. They might just conduct an interview right there since they have you on the line.

12. Pay Grade Assumption

Sometimes an impressive resumé could be detrimental to one’s application. There are hiring managers who assume that you are too expensive because you came from a blue-chip, famous, or high-end company. They will end up passing up on your application and your resumé getting ignored.


Format your application letter and resumé to give the hiring manager the impression that you are looking for opportunities with smaller companies. Indicate that you are open to discussions regarding financial commitments. If you construct your resumé right, you can improve your chance of getting over this obstacle and get interviewed. 

13. Internal Hiring Only

There are companies and territories with policies or legislatures that require a company to publicly publish a job ad for an opening within the organization regardless if it’s just an internal promotion. This scenario discourages applicants after submitting their resumé and finding out after, especially for those who see themselves fully qualified for the job.


Reach out to the hiring manager and inquire about the job opening. As long as it’s still an active posting, make your pitch to the hiring manager. Regularly follow-up regarding the status of the job vacancy. Maybe the company might eventually open the opportunity to external candidates. Make sure to keep your name in the hat.

14. Late Job-Posting

Speaking of company policies, some organizations have policies that require them to publicly post a job opening even if they have already hired internally. This is similar to the scenario above. Companies do this in the spirit of “fairness and equally-opportunity.”


As much as this is not a fair practice, it is still an accepted practice. Your best option is to reach out to the hiring manager about the job. Inquire about the job. Ask the hiring manager regarding the profile of their ideal candidate, and if they have someone in mind. Even if there is no vacancy, reaching out, and inquiring about the job would impress hiring managers. They might look into considering you in case their current option might not cut it.

15. Third-Party Hiring

There are staffing firms that put up job postings on behalf of a company. There are instances where the company ignores the staffing firm’s candidates as these firms charge fees, sometimes exorbitant, for every successful candidate the company hires. If you applied through a staffing agency, there is a fair chance that you won’t get hired.


Find a way to apply directly to the company. But at the same time, build rapport with the staffing firm. These firms tend to push one candidate for all relevant job openings. You want to be the one candidate they sell.  

16. Put On Hold

You’ve sent in your application, and suddenly the company decides to put the hiring on hold. Reasons like company restructuring and circumstances beyond the company’s control are variables that could cause this scenario.  


Keep in touch with the hiring manager. Let the hiring manager know that you’re still available (if you haven’t decided to go elsewhere yet) and interested in filling the role. If the position re-opens, your application would be fresh in the mind of the hiring manager.

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17. Job Description Changes

There are instances where job posting details change during the publication period. These changes may be due to:

  • Changes in the company process, thus, requirements change.
  • The job ad was not reviewed and lacked essential details.
  • Other factors

Whatever the case may be, your perfectly written resumé may no longer be a fit for the current job posting. Case in point, there was once a job posting for a sales manager position that received a fair amount of applicants. When the hiring manager reviewed the job posting, it was noted that the Japanese-speaking requirement was not included. Once the job posting was amended, nobody qualified. The ATS was programmed to ignore resumés that did not have “Japanese-speaking” or “speaks Japanese” in their details.


Keep a vigilant eye on the job posting. Check for any changes in the details. Keep in touch with the hiring manager to see if your skills are still relevant to the position.

As you can see from all the scenarios above, two categories classify why resumes are rejected. One you can control and should maintain control at all times. While the other category you can’t control but may have the ability to manage.

The key to achieving some semblance of control over the second variable is to stay in touch with the hiring manager. Keep yourself updated with their job openings. Ask for their input regarding the jobs that are along your lines. Establish a working relationship with them. Show them that you’re serious about working with them and have the drive to go beyond what other applicants do.

Don’t be all broken up just because you didn’t get a callback. Be proactive and create your opportunities. Make your perfect resumé count. Start building your perfect resume online now with Resume Guy with a range of attractive templates to choose from.

You can read this guide on “how to write a resume” to get started and create the perfect first impression on your recruiters.

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