Have you ever wondered why your job application is sent to the “no” pile? Keep on reading for reasons why you can get a job rejection email.

You found a job posting that sounded like it had been written just for you. You filled out the application, attached your resume and cover letter and hit the apply button. One week goes by and then another.

Finally, you get the email you’ve been waiting for. You open it and read the words thousands of job seekers can recite from memory: “We regret to inform you we won’t be moving ahead with your candidacy.” There are dozens of reasons why you might get a job rejection email. Here’s a look at the most common ones, along with some tips to help you with your next application.

Your Resume Didn’t Make It Through the Screening Software

You’ve probably heard about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These software programs are designed to pick out keywords from a job application to determine if the person has the required qualifications. It happens well before an actual human being reads your resume.

One of the easiest ways to beat the system is to mirror the words used in the ad on your resume. If the job posting is for a “Marketing Director”, and your resume says “PR Genius”, the system may block your resume. You’ll get another job rejection letter. It doesn’t have to match exactly, but it should be close.

Professional resume services can help you spruce up your resume and cover letter.

You Don’t Have the Required Qualifications

You’ve heard that it’s a job seekers market right now, and you’re right. However, you still need to have the basic qualifications for the position. If the employer wants someone with 15 years experience, and you have two, you won’t get the job. Set your expectations appropriately.

If you were rejected because you don’t have a college degree, take heart. Plenty of jobs are available that don’t require a bachelor’s degree.

Your Cover Letter Is Too Long (Or Too Short)

It takes more time, but write a separate cover letter for each job. Customize your letter, so you can explain why your experience will meet the company’s needs. This is your moment to make your case. Your cover letter shouldn’t be more than three paragraphs, because recruiters simply don’t have time to read anything much longer. And a letter that’s just a sentence or two doesn’t sell the hiring manager on your unique set of skills.

A Job Rejection Email After an Interview

Your resume cleared the tracking software, and your cover letter caught the recruiter’s eye. You made it through the in-person interview with the hiring manager at the office and felt great about the meeting. Despite your optimism, you still got a job rejection letter. Why?

Bad Manners

Courtesy extends beyond the hiring manager to everyone you meet from the moment you arrive at the office. Some employers even “plant” recruiters at the front desk to see how well an applicant treats the receptionist.

Lack of Curiosity

Hiring managers use interviews to go beyond a candidate’s experience. They want to assess your self-awareness and soft skills, like your body language. This is the time to ask questions of the hiring manager to demonstrate that you’ve done your research, you understand the position and you want to know more about the company than what you can find on its website.

If you don’t ask questions, or you ask silly ones, you’ll come across as unprepared and uninterested.

Lack of Follow-Up

After the interview, take the time to send a thank-you note. This is also a great opportunity to ask any questions you thought of after the interview. It demonstrates an interest in the company and good manners.

Wrapping It Up

Ultimately, you may never know why you got that job rejection email. The candidate who got the job may have been connected to the company or knew someone who works there. Another candidate may have been willing to work for a lower salary. That’s why it’s so important to give yourself every advantage you can.

Visit our blog to learn more about “cognitive biases” and how they can affect the interview process.