Ask for Resume Feedback to Get Results from Your Job Search

by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

Whether or not you have landed any interviews, you may still need to take some time to tweak your resume to improve your chances of getting that all-important call! Many candidates send out their first version of a resume and never make any changes throughout the interview process. Expecting to get new results from the same resume may sink your chances of getting an interview. Review the tips below to keep your resume current through all phases of your job search.

Why Ask for Feedback

Take advantage of interviews to get feedback about how to improve your resume, cover letter, and interview behavior. No one likes being rejected, but if you can obtain honest feedback following the rejection, you can use the information to make some critical changes to your resume and improve your job search.

If you choose to follow-up regarding the outcome of an interview, do so as soon as possible. Requesting feedback from the interviewer, recruiter, or hiring manager soon after the interview conveys your genuine interest in the company as well as your ability to learn from your mistakes. Not every candidate will follow up, and your willingness to do so will set you apart from the competition in a positive way. A quick follow-up allows you to obtain impressions while the interview is still fresh in the hiring manager’s mind. In addition, your initiative in following up may help open the door to another opportunity with the same company.

Asking for Feedback

Asking for feedback can be couched as a thank-you, acknowledging the interviewer’s time and the knowledge gained about the organization. Even if you have followed the best protocol and sent a thank you note immediately after the interview, you can still use this approach as an introduction to your real question. Examples of phrasing you may use include:

  • “I am definitely interested in being better prepared for the next opportunity, whether that comes up at your organization or elsewhere. Could you give me some feedback about why I was not selected?”
  • “What feedback do you have about how I could improve my qualifications, resume, or interview presence?”
  • “Of course I’m disappointed that I was not selected for the position, and I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but I’m trying to improve my resume and interview skills so that I am better prepared for future opportunities. Do you have any recommendations for me?”

If you sense some hesitation from the interviewer in talking about your shortcomings, perhaps for fear of being seen as discriminatory, concerns about litigation, or simply discomfort with being direct, you can switch the approach to asking about your perceived strengths. At the very least you will gain feedback on what areas are working for you. For example:

  • “What did you see as positive aspects of my resume and interview behavior?”

Be Prepared for the Feedback

Negative feedback, even constructive criticism, can be difficult to hear. You may be crushed when you hear that what you most value about your resume or work experience is actually perceived as a deficit. For example, many candidates hang on to old achievements or awards for far too long on their resumes.

By being prepared for unpleasant feelings that may arise from the feedback, you are less likely to become defensive or argumentative with the interviewer. Remember that in addition to getting practical feedback, you are also developing a relationship with someone who may be able to help you obtain a job in the future. Don’t unintentionally burn those bridges because you don’t like the feedback for which you asked!

Typical Areas of Feedback

With an open mind, you will be more receptive to the constructive information that you may receive from an objective source. You may gain valuable direction to improve your chances for a positive outcome from the next interview. Typical areas recommended for improvement include:

  • Lack of crucial experience
  • Incomplete education or specialized training
  • Lack of enthusiasm or confidence during the interview
  • Apparent disinterest or lack of knowledge in the company (could be due to nerves)
  • Insufficient preparation for the interview, such as inadequate research about the company
Having the courage to ask hard questions not only helps you prepare for the next interview, but also sets you apart from the competition who just slip quietly away following an unsuccessful interview bid. In addition to tweaking your resume, you may also gain insight about your job search and change direction to a career that more closely aligns with your strengths. Be bold and ask the hard questions to move your job search forward!