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Your resume should highlight key qualifications

Q. The job search definitely has a timing and luck component to it. My question is why would an applicant who meets 99 percent of very specific criteria outlined by the employer in the posting not generate an interview?

A. Many candidates think they meet every aspect of the criteria needed in a posted role, but there may be a host of aspects in your resume that prevent you from being selected. Resume readers are skimmers. They spend less than a minute scanning headlines of a resume unless there is something that attracts their attention. Scan your resume quickly. What stands out? Does it highlight your strengths and experience that match the posting to which you are responding? Make sure your resume format highlights the most important facts on your resume.

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Most hiring managers have a prioritized list of desired criteria. You may be missing the 1 percent that was deemed a must have. Managers also review former employers. The companies you used to work at may be companies the managers respect, or companies they feel do not offer the level of training desired or work atmosphere and culture that they want their new hires to have experienced.

Perhaps you have short-term assignments at more than one company. Many hiring managers scan for job hoppers and these candidates can be rejected.

The other areas hiring managers and recruiters use as reasons to screen out candidates include gaps in employment history, typos, and too many general statements not showing specific responsibilities or successes.

Timing is another issue. Responsiveness will always win. By the time organizations are posting hiring opportunities, they typically have a very serious need for a person to fill that role. Don’t assume you can wait a week to respond to an ad, fill out an application, or express your interest about an opportunity. Communicate early, reinforce your interest, and thank everyone for every interaction you have.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston, and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

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