Anton van Rossum 

13 August

T.C. asks:

After a career in research and development, I’ve been working as a business development manager at a large technology group for over ten years now. In my position, I’m co-responsible for the strategy and future of the company and I work with industrial partners on confidential advanced technology projects. As such, I report directly to the CEO.

It’s an exciting job, but I’m gradually ready for a “change of scenery” – something new, although I’m not actively looking around. Recently, I came across an interesting management vacancy at a chip company in wireless technology and I took the liberty to apply. The position has everything I’m looking for and for which I’m qualified: management, microelectronics and business in the IoT domain. Because it’s in the same field I’ve been in for years, this is very interesting to me.

After a few weeks, I received a short rejection e-mail, completely unmotivated. This came as a big surprise to me as it should be clear to them that I’m a top candidate for the job. I contacted someone from HR, but that brought me nothing. According to him, my CV wasn’t specific enough and it lacked sufficient leads. I then explained to him that I can’t be expected to include a more detailed description as this would reveal all my company’s strategic activities.

I remain interested in the position, however, and am not ready to give up. After all, the vacancy is still on the company’s website. Please advise.

The headhunter answers:

Reading your résumé, I notice very few links to the function advertised. Fifteen years ago, you worked in the same industry the company is operating in, but after that, I don’t see anything relevant anymore. It does strike me that you’ve described your last job – which you’ve had for ten years according to your CV – in just four lines. That’s not much seeing as it’s the most relevant period in your employment history! This becomes even more striking compared to the many pages you spend describing your prior job. I get that you’re reluctant to reveal your company’s secrets, but you’ve been working there for ten years and you should certainly be able to give more information about past projects and results.

If you ever want to change jobs, you’ll have to provide insight into your responsibilities and results. If you don’t, no one will invite you for an interview. You really should give more information – without becoming indiscreet of course. How else do you think you’re going to get to the table? You need to make clear in your CV that you fit the profile. Only addressing this in the motivation letter isn’t enough. When you have the ten years of people and business management experience required by the job, your résumé should mention this. This also applies to your familiarity with certain technologies.

Take the job requirements seriously. After all, many applicants don’t fit the profile at all. You need to put some effort in to get on the “yes” stack. With this vacancy, I doubt whether you still stand a chance since you’ve already been rejected. But it would be very clumsy, to say the least, if you ruined your chances by not bothering to submit a serious résumé.