Why you’re not getting interviews for the jobs you want

Why are you not getting interviews despite meeting the minimum requirements? How comes you keep getting knock backs? What amount of jobs do you have to apply for before getting a chance to interview? Are you missing a trick?

The frustrating part

You see an advert for a job you want, and you apply. Then you wait. And wait some more. Sometimes you might call the agent. And sometimes you don’t. Either way you don’t get a look in. You simply cannot get interviews for jobs you actually want despite meeting the minimum requirements. Eventually you get to the stage where it seems that your only option is to make a compromise. So, you take an O.K job. It’s not bad. But it’s not what you want.

Why are you not getting a look in though?

If you meet the minimum requirements surely you should get some interviews, right?

Erm. Not necessarily.

Where are you going wrong then?

The usual suspects

There are several typical barriers to overcome before giving yourself a chance of getting an interview. Overcome these barriers and your luck seems to dramatically increase. Before explaining those barriers though, it’s better to give clarity on how the process actually works.

Mis-held beliefs

The public consensus of what a recruiter does seems to be confused. Or better put what our actual role is in the grand scheme of things.

I read a LinkedIn post earlier this week from a recruiter who summed up the biggest mis-held belief out there about us;

The role of a recruiter

“Recruiters are not here to help you get a job”. Sounds harsh right? Obviously, we want you to get a job. We’re not heartless. But think about who is paying us? The company requiring personnel is the one paying us.

Most recruiters are only paid after placing someone in a role. The rest are paid on a retainer or a type of pre-agreed contract on the understanding that a certain volume of placements are made in a given period. Either way, if as a recruiter you don’t make placements you won’t get paid any commission. Therefore, like any job, it is the customer paying you that you need to keep happy. No results = no customers. And no customers = no commission. No commission = failed career. You get the picture.

Therefore, put simply, a recruiter’s job is to keep the customer paying them happy. Not the job seeker. We obviously want to make you happy and get you a job, but bear something in mind:

You’re not the only person who is being considered for a job vacancy

Dependent on the vacancy, hundreds of people could apply. And consider that if it is a job you want, then it is highly likely that a substantial number of other people will feel the same way.

Now that we have established what the role of a recruiter is let’s look at those mis-held belief barriers.

If I register my CV with a recruiter, they’ll get me a job

Again, not necessarily. Most recruiters and most agencies will specialise in one type of industry. That could be Engineering, IT, Science, Executive roles, Hospitality, Office jobs, Education etc. The list goes on and on. Sure, there are some companies considered generalists who will do a bit of this and that. But regardless, if they don’t have the contacts to introduce you or the vacancies you want aren’t available to them, you’ll not get much luck.

For example I, and I’m sure I am not alone here amongst other recruiters, will get friends and family every now and again ask whether I can help find them a job. I recruit in Engineering and the Engineering end of IT and the Engineering end of Science. So, if they are looking to get into retail management I’ll be as much use a chocolate teapot.

But you’re a recruiter. That’s what you do. You find people jobs, right?

In reality it’s all about contacts. Fees can run into the thousands per placement. Why would a retail company who don’t know me be willing to pay me thousands on my recommendation for you? And if I have no contacts in that sector how will I even know who’s looking and for what in the first place? You’d be better served finding a recruiter who covers that market and has those contacts.

Therefore, just because we’re in recruitment, we might not be the right recruiter for the type of job you want. In the same way McDonalds is a restaurant, you’d have a hard time getting a Pizza in there.

I meet the minimum skill and qualification requirements

Unfortunately, several other people who have applied for the job you want will also meet the minimum skill requirements. But, some of the those will also have more than the minimum skill requirements. If you had the budget to buy a new house and you had a choice of 10 houses all costing the same price, would you pick the ones with the minimum requirements or the ones with all those plus the benefits? It’s simple value for money. If you had the choice, you’ll want the best value.

The purpose of a CV

I admire a person who has gone to huge effort to include every possible detail that they can in their CV. I’ve seen CV’s 15 pages long. Seriously, fair play. The problem is that even though I admire the effort, I don’t have an hour to read it all. In fact, like most recruiters, you’ll skim read. And you won’t skim read 15 pages either. Oh no. The average recruiter or hiring manager spends between 6 to 10 seconds looking at a CV. All your efforts in pages 7 through 11 are in the nicest way, never going to be read. We simply won’t have the time. Nor will a hiring manager.

The purpose of your CV is the same purpose that a television advert has; to advertise a product or service. In this case, you are the product. If your CV fails to get to the point inside those 6 to 10 seconds and sell you, you’re wasting your opportunity every time you submit that CV for a job.

I wrote a post on how to write a CV that can fix this part for you:


Glitzing up your CV will make it stand out from the crowd and give you a better chance of getting a job

Seriously? Where did this codswallop come from? I’ve heard this on TV, radio, online etc. Yet, it’s from people who aren’t involved in the process. In 1995 when everyone went around handing their CV’s in to places this could have worked; sort of. I can imagine a hiring manager skimming through a paper stack of 50 CV’s and one catching their eye as it stands out from the rest because the paper was a different colour and it was bright. But that didn’t mean you’d have any better chance of getting the job.

It is the content that matters. Just because you include some cool art work, a quote and some volunteering experience it won’t make any difference if the substance of what is needed for the job isn’t there.

Add in another problem. Everything is digital now. If you have some odd formatting on your CV and it doesn’t transmit from one system to another well, it could end up looking naff. Seriously stop with the arty farty formats and get the content fixed first. Your CV could be boring in its presentation from an aesthetic perspective, but if it’s clear and obvious within 6 to 10 seconds that you have the skills and experience for the job, you are quid’s in. Add some formatting in that doesn’t translate well and all that clarity could be missed. Think about it. Keep it simple, but effective.

I know I could do the job, but I just need someone to give me a chance

Why would someone give you a chance when they have other people who are sure fire bets? I believe I could score goals for Barcelona, but I don’t see them offering me three hundred grand a week.

Getting the job you want isn’t about getting a chance. It’s in making yourself an obvious shout for an interview. If you have the minimum skill requirements only, you’re unproven. Think about what it is that the hiring managers would want to see in your CV. It isn’t volunteering experience at the local animal sanctuary. Volunteering there is admirable, but if the job you want is in banking for example, where is the relevance? Nor is your passion for online gaming much use if you want to get into car mechanics. Think about it.

If you want to get into car mechanics, volunteer at a garage. Take a course in vehicle mechanics. Go to college. If you can’t afford college, take a loan or find the money somewhere. But it’s expensive? Yes. Do you have a games console with a stack of games? Do you have a nice car? Booked that holiday you want? They were expensive too. The question is where is your money best spent?

Your objective is to add the skills, experience and credibility in your CV to turn a chance of getting an interview into a sure-fire bet. It’s that simple.

I’ve had loads of jobs and so I’ve got loads of experience

Some companies will have a problem with loads of jobs on your CV. Why? If you’re going to pay a recruiter thousands of pounds to hire someone, you’re going to want them to become a long term asset. Obviously for contract roles that is different, but for the sake of argument, in the permanent world this is the case. Your four jobs in five years will say that you’re high risk.

But I didn’t like those jobs and they weren’t a fit for me

I know people who are miserable in jobs they’ve had for 20 years. And I know people who are miserable with the five jobs they’ve had in the last five years. The circumstances simply don’t matter when a hiring manager is deciding where to invest their money when they choose who to hire. Job hopping does not look good to them. Before changing job, really think about where you are going as moving job too regularly is a big turn off for many hiring managers.

You should apply for every job you find

Firstly, no. Bad idea. Again, I have heard this advice on national and respected television programs. It irritates the hell out of me. What bad advice. It won’t increase your chances. If anything, it’ll just give you a name for being someone who applies for everything. It sounds more desperate than tactical.

From a recruiter’s perspective to keep our clients happy we want to get them people we think will stay with them. If our candidates keep leaving, the clients will stop using us. If you’re the type of candidate who is applying for every job under the sun, the question could be asked as to whether you are you actually serious about this particular job? You could be high risk based on your activity? And you sound desperate for anything and may just take this as a stop gap. Alarm bells will be ringing.


There could be more reasons in your specific circumstances as to why you are not getting an interview for the jobs you want, but the above points pretty much sum up the usual suspects. If you’re not getting interviews think about why. Don’t get caught in that trap of blaming recruiters, the world being against you and other external factors. The world doesn’t owe you squat. You get out what you put in. Think and act objectively. What job is it you want? How can you present your CV with the content and clarity that makes you a sure-fire bet for interview? Don’t have the experience? Find voluntary or low paid industry work. Need the qualifications? Take the accredited courses. Can’t afford it? Make some sacrifices to what you are spending your money on. Short term pain for long term gain. By doing this you are investing in your future. What better way to spend your time and money? Especially if it ends up getting you the career and job you want.

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