The psychology behind why your résumé hardly stands a chance to make it past the rejection pile

Resume cover letter job fair career man applicationChris McGrath/Getty ImagesAvoid getting your résumé tossed in the rejection pile.

Sending out your résumé is a rough business.

A simple formatting error or a typo could mean the difference between landing your dream job and getting rejected right off the bat.

Even worse, hiring managers are pretty much hardwired to reject your thoughtfully-put-together résumé

As Art Markman, a professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, writes for Fast Company, there are usually two phases to the résumé review process:

First, hiring managers go into “rejection mode,” seeking out reasons to eliminate résumés from the stack. “Psychologically, this actually requires a recruiter or hiring manager to zero in on your flaws before fixating more closely on your strengths,” Markman writes.

In most cases, this is probably the most important step of the process.

As Markman writes in another article for Fast Company, “When people are dissatisfied with all of their options, research suggests that they often focus on finding reasons to reject one over the other rather than reasons for preferring one.” So if you are applying for an entry-level position, you can bet that the “rejection phase” is going to be even harsher.

After they have trimmed the list down, Markman says hiring managers switch modes to the “selection mindset” and begin comparing candidates’ strengths.

So, how can you ensure that your résumé survives the dreaded rejection round?

As any dog owner can tell you, puppies are are more likely to take their medicine when the pill is embedded in a treat. Markman suggests candidates wrap each of their potential weakness with a strength.

Additionally, in “No One Understand You and What to Do About It,” social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson writes that it’s more important to “emphasise your potential” rather than past successes in the hiring process.

So, if you lack job experience for example, your best bet in surviving the rejection phase might be to highlight instances where you took ownership and learned skills on the job.

NOW WATCH: A former HR exec who reviewed over 40,000 résumés says these 7 résumé mistakes annoy her

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