Email Fail: The 4 Reasons Your Resume Never Gets Read

Resume DeleteDespite all the evidence to the contrary, many still believe a solid resume is enough to get them a job… or at least an interview, which can lead to a job.

Here’s the problem with that thinking…

If your resume delivery process is completely flawed, no one is going to read that shining gem of a resume in the first place. It’s like having a really great idea, but telling nobody about it, and then some other schmoe makes a million dollars because he knows a thing or two about basic marketing practices.

The reality is…

HOW you submit your resume to a prospective employer is just as important as WHAT you submit.

In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s even MORE important… in theory, because it’s the first line of defense. If your email doesn’t even make it through the door, your resume is about as beneficial to you as a love letter from a bitter ex.

Here is what I constantly see young job seekers doing wrong:

1. Your Resume Filename is… “Resume”

When you save your resume file as a .docx/.doc/PDF file, don’t simply save it as “resume”. There is nothing compelling about that, no bit of professionalism whatsoever. And in the event that I, the recruiter, save it to my desktop, I have to take the extra step to rename it as your name. You’re making me work. Save it with your first and last name and the word “Resume”. I advise including “resume” there as well because it separates it from any other documents you might have – a cover letter, recommendations or samples of your work.

  • Solution: Dana_Leavy-Resume 2011.docx

2. Your Email Makes No Reference to the Open Position

It’s not uncommon that companies post more than one position at a time to a given job board. So when you respond with something like, “I’m responding with interest to the position posted on Craig’s List”, I have no idea what you’re referring to until I open your resume. Then hopefully I get an idea of what you are qualified for. Again, you are making me, the recruiter, do all the work. Not to mention it completely obliterates your cover letter, since none of it will hold any weight, given that I don’t know what position you are selling yourself to.

  • Solution: Write a compelling and original subject line to your email that incorporates your name, the position you are applying to, and 2-3 additional words as a “pre-sell” to compel me to open your email. Example: ”Dana L Leavy – Experienced & Innovative Career Coach.

3. Your Email Has No Text

I, the recruiter, will probably not even bother looking at your resume if you can’t be bothered to write a simple message in the body of your email. It should include who you are, what you’re applying to, and why I should bring you in as a qualified candidate for an interview. I have seen numerous resume submissions where the candidate obviously got lazy, and simply sent me an email with a subject line and an attachment. Nothing else. Someone please explain to me where I missed the shred of professionalism in that? Oh wait…there is none.

  • Solution: Use the body of your email as your cover letter, even if it’s a shortened version. Introduce yourself, reiterate what job you are applying for, and then sell yourself in a few sentences as to why you are qualified enough that I should continue on to read your resume. The idea here is to pique my initial interest and get me to want to read your resume.

4. You Tell Me You Have “All of the Right Qualifications” (Wrong!)

Perhaps my biggest peeves are candidates who assume I, the recruiter, must be a complete idiot. Or maybe a genius, because I am supposed to decipher why someone who has only worked in part-time mall retail jobs is “100% qualified for the role” of web designer. Simply telling me that you are qualified, is not enough to convince me that you are qualified. I need a legitimate reason to call you back, so give me one in a way that relates your experience to both my company and the role I’m hiring for.

  • Solution: Only apply to jobs where you can legitimately explain your qualifications. You will have to do just that in an interview, so there’s no short-cut here. When it comes to qualifications in a job description, you don’t have to have every one on the list, but you most likely need to have all of the necessary ones to do the job, and be able to decipher which ones are most important. And you have to be able to communicate them on your resume.

Remember: the recruiter will eventually have to take your resume to the decision maker and make a case as to why you are the right candidate. Give them the ammunition to do so; it is their butt on the line, and they will do no such thing unless they can back up that decision with clear evidence as to why you’re a great candidate.

Hiring a candidate at any level is a huge investment for any company. Make no mistake that an HR person or a recruiter will never put their reputation on the line without being fairly confident that the investment they are suggesting to their boss or client, will pay off . It is your job to convince them of that.

I don’t know about you, but my father never bought me a horse simply because I said I wanted a horse. Actually he never bought me a horse in general, so that was a bad example.

He did, however, partially pay for my college degree at the most expensive school in the country, and it wasn’t just because I asked him…

I made a case for why and how that massive investment would eventually pay off for him, in terms of what I would provide. In return for giving me a lot of money, I would go build a decent career, so that I no longer had to go ask him for a lot of money. Seemed like a win-win to me.

And that’s the goal with appealing to hiring manager and HR folks: to shoot for a win-win.

You know what you would get out of it – they don’t care, trust me. Instead, tell them what they would get by hiring the one and only qualified super-candidates that is you! And you accomplish that by being a solid communicator, being respectful of a hiring manager’s time and effort, and by being professional in every way.





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Brooklyn Resume Studio!



DanaAbout the Author: Dana Leavy founded Aspyre Solutions, and more recently, Brooklyn Resume Studio. Her mission is to support creative and socially-conscious small businesses, through career transition coaching and business consulting for creative professionals and entrepreneurs.

Dana has helped hundreds of professionals in advertising, marketing, design and other industries execute effective career plans to find and DO the work they are passionate about. She has presented seminars on navigating careers, transition and work-life balance to several colleges and universities, and her advice has been featured on MSN Careers, Fox Business News, NewsDay,, GlassDoor and Follow Dana on Twitter!



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