Dear Matt: I keep seeing the same position advertised with a local employer I’d really like to work for. I’ve applied to this job several times in the past few years, but never get called for an interview. Why?


Matt says: It’s hard to know what the reason is, but one thing I do know is this: You need to change your approach, because clearly, what you have been doing isn’t working.

Think about what may be holding you back. Are you overqualified? A good recruiter won’t contact someone who has too much experience and expects more money than the position pays. Are your résumé and cover letter error free? Tweak and edit them, and direct them to the specific job.

But a job that is constantly advertised could be a red flag. Constant turnover could be a sign of poor management or a poorly run company. Also, be sure it’s a legitimate ad — sometimes employers or job boards forget to remove job postings. Don’t keep applying to jobs that are not open.

How do you find out answers to all of this? By contacting the company directly via a phone call, says Kari Rosand Scanlon, Principal Consultant of Twin Cities-based Spotlight HR Solutions. Don’t know who the recruiter is? Call, don’t e-mail — those are too easy to ignore — and ask the company’s receptionist who the hiring manager is for the position. The receptionist will usually send you to the hiring manager or the recruiter. Keep in mind that recruiters are regularly contacted. The top questions they answer are: Did you get my résumé? Is the position still open?, and When will I hear back? Recruiters usually give quick answers to these questions and will try to get you off the phone, so instead, ask what the top qualifications are for the position, why the position is open, why they like working for the company and what the culture is like at the company.

“These types of questions will get most recruiters to open up about the position,” says Scanlon.

Your goal is to find out why the company continues to advertise the same position. Is the company experiencing record growth and in need of candidates right away? Is the company planning for future growth and looking to fill the position in the near future? Also, ask if the position is a current position or a new one. If it’s new, the company may still be designing the role and screening candidates at the same time.

Once you have more information, tailor your résumé to that job based on the needs outlined by the recruiter in the phone conversation. If the post asks for compensation requirements, list your bottom-line, says Scanlon. “Many candidates list what they hope to make and end up placing themselves too high,” she says. “Compensation is one of the first things recruiters screen for when filling positions.”


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