3 Lies And 1 Truth Why Your Resume Rejected

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Your resume is often rejected not because you’re not good enough or it doesn’t have “right” keywords in it.

There is only one reason why it's rejected. It took me 6 years, a couple of books about selling, and tons of trials & errors to find it. And today we are going to disclose this one reason.

But first, let’s start with common myths (lies) developers still believe why their resumes are often rejected.

Lie 1: ATS (Application Tracking Systems)

There is a popular myth surrounding this software. Developers think that ATS scans their resume for "specific" keywords and rejects it if it doesn’t find them. This lie has been written in so many books that developers started to believe it and now worry about what magic keywords to put on their resume to pass the ATS.

I'm going to disappoint you and then delight you.

ATS exists, but it does not reject your resume and it’s not what you think.

ATS is a software application that is used to test and screen candidates, schedule interviews, manage the hiring process, check references, and do other useful things to help companies in the hiring process.

But it does not reject your resume (proof)

Humans do.

Be wary of any resource that claims this to be true.

Lie 2: Fancy Font And Layout

Some of you may be shocked, but here is an example of the most inviting resume to an interview.

Screenshot 2021-02-05 at 11.41.09.png

(it’s not my resume, I’ve created it to show you an example of a good resume)

Fancy Font: Arial.

Fancy Layout: Made in Google Word.

Tons of resume builder websites claim that you need a fancy font and fancy layout to be invited to an interview.

But it’s a lie. Resume builder websites do it to make money.

The simpler your resume the better.

Fancy fonts and layouts just distract recruiters and hiring managers from the critical points of your resume. And you don’t want recruiters to be distracted.

Why?

When recruiters take your resume and start to read it, they do a quick scan, which means gathering all key information. Technologies, years of experience, previous positions, company names, and other relevant information to what they are looking for. And on average, it takes 6 seconds to scan your resume for a recruiter.

So, when your fancy font and layout take a few seconds of the recruiter’s attention just to notice them, the time for the critical part of your resume with key information will be limited.

Use a simple font and simple layout.

Lie 3: You Are Not Good Enough

Many developers write me on Twitter and ask for advice on what they need to learn in order to get a job. Typical situation. But when we start talking and finding out what the person wants to learn, it turns out some of them already know tons of technologies and want to learn even more. When I ask, “Why you need more?” the person tells me that he often gets rejected because he's not good enough.

In most cases, it is not the real reason why you are rejected.

Of course, if you know a lot of technologies on the “Hello World” level, can’t build real applications, and are applying for a job at Google, you are not good enough in your technical skills yet. Companies hire only those, who can solve their problem or have the potential to solve it. Few companies need interns. And even for them, the bar is very high because of the high competition.

But when you clearly understand where you are, applying for jobs and companies at your level and yet you are rejected, “I’m not good enough” is not the real reason.

The main problem is hidden in how you’re applying, what you write in the cover letter, and how good your resume is. But it’s not because you’re not good enough in your technical skills.

All the reasons why you often get rejected have one common root - your sales skills.

Truth: You Don’t Know How To Sell

The real and only reason your resume is rejected is because it's not selling. It doesn’t sell you enough to a recruiter to get an invitation to an interview.

So what do you need to do to be invited to any interview?

Become a salesman and sell yourself with a decent resume.

“But I’m a developer and not a salesman, I don’t need to know how to sell”

I heard from one developer when giving him advice about interviews. If you think the same I’m going to disappoint you. You need to know how to sell.

Why?

Because you are the product and resume is your sales page.

Every company wants to hire the best developer for a certain position. Everybody knows it. But what does “the best developer” mean? Maybe who knows a lot of programming languages? Maybe who has 20+ years of experience? Maybe both?

No.

The best developer is one who can solve the company problem. The better he can do it, the better developer he is.

And to convince a company that you are that one developer who can solve their problem the best, you need to know how to sell yourself.

The main part of “selling” is going on the interview. But the first selling part starts when a recruiter takes your resume and starts to read it.

If your resume sells you enough, if it shows that you can solve a company problem or have potential to do it, you will be invited to the interview. If not, you will be rejected. Simple as it is.

Become a salesman and sell yourself with a decent resume.

In the end…

If you ask me how to learn “selling”, I suggest you read the theory and then practice it. That worked for me but took 6+ years.

But there is another way if you don’t want to spend a couple of years.

Right now I’m writing a proven and reusable system for any developer who wants to go from being unemployed and fearing a job interview person to getting multiple job offers and having a crystal-clear understanding of how to ace software engineer job interviews. It’s a book where I reveal everything I’ve learned during 6 years working as a software engineer (applied more than 110 times, failed 25+ job interviews, and got 17 job offers in summary)

  • A proven system on preparing for each step of the job interview from A to Z, successfully acing them and getting a dream software engineer job.
  • How to get a job as a developer without having a degree and work experience.
  • What exact 4 things every company looks for in every candidate for a software engineer position.
  • The exact steps for creating a resume that makes you stand out from the crowd and gets you an invitation to interview.
  • My Deep Preparation System to productively prepare for a technical interview in a short period of time (no, you don’t need to prepare for months)
  • 8 steps framework to negotiate an offer and get the best deal possible (you could easily be leaving $10K, $40K, $90K+ on the table if you don’t know how to negotiate)

And many more on how to exactly prepare for a Software Engineer interview and nail it. Add your email here and I will notify you when I release it with a bonus for you.

Cheers,

Nick

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Luke Netti's photo

This was great Nick! Simple and to the point.

Nick Bull's photo

Thanks Luke!

Peter Singh's photo

I agree with your general point that people, least of all us dev's(wannbe's inc.) really are good/great at the technical things. Crap at the other things that would make life profitable. Selling yourself short is definately something alot of people do on a daily basis. How to sell self yourself, is a whole different kettle of fish. I have a very long and extensive background in sales. Never really liked it. I was good at it, but still when you dont like something over time that grows on you till you just have enough. Personally I have always found that everyone is a salesman. If you doubt that, ask yourself this, how do you get kids to behave themselves? why you incentivise them with a treat, how do you get them to shut up for ages, give them an incentive equal to the effort that you are asking from them. Same thing goes to what the author is saying. You dont lack the right incentivies for them to bother their arse getting intouch with you, or keeping with the kiddy methaphor: Your sweets are shit.

I whole heartly agree with the statement "Convince a company that you are the one able to solve their problem the best." That is the incentive, thats the sweetie that the kid is wanting. If you cant find a problem with a company, you are not looking hard enough, and if you really cant. Well make one up, but be able to make sure you can defend/sell it for when they come asking for a taste....

Nick Bull's photo

Thank you Peter!

Ross Hanahan's photo

I took a similar journey and came to the same conclusion. Also, as a techy developer, you probably need to adjust what you think selling is. And, Peter, not lost on me is an article about selling, where you are actually selling ha!

William Röhnelt's photo

Nice article!