by Craig S, ResumeEdge Certified Writer -
You’ve sent that shiny resume out all over the place. Any moment now, the world is going to knock at your door!
Then, reality sinks in. The phone doesn’t ring. Your email doesn’t ping. Nothing but junk mail and bills in the mailbox. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Chances are the crown jewel of your career achievements—your resume—hasn’t even been read.
Don’t get discouraged or incensed. Smart tactics and strategies can win the game. But first, check out these statistics:
- The average time spent looking at a resume or CV is 5–7 seconds.
- Approximately 250 resumes are submitted for each job opening.
- 427,000 resumes are posted on Monster per week. Google gets a million a year.
- Applicants begin responding within 200 seconds after a job is posted online.
- 50% of applicants for a typical job fail to meet the basic qualifications.
- One in three employers reject candidates based on something they discovered about them online.
- 89% of businesses use social media networks for recruitment.
- 61% of recruiters will automatically reject a resume with typos; 43% of hiring managers will disqualify a resume because of a spelling error.
- There’s a 17% probability your cover letter will be read.
- A poorly organized resume can erode review scores by 60%.
- 76% of resumes are ignored if the email address is unprofessional.
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APPLICANT TRACKING SYSTEMS
Technology has transformed the hiring and recruiting landscape. Half of all mid-sized firms and almost all large corporations use computerized applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen job candidates more efficiently. These “candidate management systems” are the first daunting threshold in the hiring gauntlet.
The software typically scans for relevant keywords that indicate an applicant meets the minimum qualifications for a specific position. The ATS grades the candidate using a hiring matrix. Each resume or application is assigned a weighted score or rank based on matching up with matrix values.
“I estimate more than 90 percent of candidates apply using their standard resume without any customization,” declares renowned HR expert Dr. John Sullivan. “Unfortunately, this practice dramatically increases the odds that a resume will be instantly rejected because a resume that is not customized to the job will seldom include enough of the required ‘keywords’ to qualify for the next step, a review by a human.”
Sullivan notes even live recruiters spend on average less than two seconds (of the total six-second review) looking for a keyword match. “Unless the words are strategically placed so that they can be easily spotted, a recruiter will likely reject it for not meeting the keyword target,” he says.
There are dozens of other ways resumes vanish into HR black holes or trash cans. The first step to landing an interview is learning how to navigate the hiring funnel by squeezing past the gatekeepers.
STORMING THE GATES
So how you do tunnel through HR screening roadblocks and bottlenecks? Here are some tips:
- READ JOB POSTINGS CAREFULLY: Applicants often spend less than a minute reviewing a job posting or description. Honestly appraise your credentials. If the job doesn’t fit, don’t go for it.
- FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS EXACTLY: Companies use the application process to sift for a highly qualified, motivated candidate pool by assessing interest, attention to detail, writing ability, etc.
- CUSTOMIZE: Every resume and cover letter should be a unique marketing vehicle tailored to show how your qualifications meet or exceed job requirements. Do your homework.
- CANNED GETS CANNED: Copying and pasting your boilerplate resume or canned letter without bothering to research the company, identify needs, adopt keywords, and personalize won’t work.
- AVOID MISTAKES: Use multiple proofreaders. Pretest your resume with an HR professional. Don’t send PDFs—some ATS software can’t scan it. Professionalize your LinkedIn profile as well.
- TOO LONG: Non-executive resumes more than two to three pages long usually don’t get read. Resumes with photos have 88% reject rates. Ditch rambling “Objectives” statements.
DO IT RIGHT
Submit a custom resume in an easy-to-scan format that ensures job titles, education, company names, and dates can be instantly viewed. Speak the language but don’t go overboard with buzzwords. Eliminate irrelevant data and ancient job history. Make sure you’re not under-qualified or overqualified. Avoid fancy formatting or unusual fonts. Use keywords gleaned from job postings and diligent research.
Most importantly, focus your job search efforts on positions where your skills and experience can make a definitive contribution. Personalize your resume and cover letter to align confidently yet realistically with job requirements. Demonstrate how you can make a positive difference. Follow up with a hard copy and phone calls, but don’t be a pest. It’s quality, not quantity; patiently persistent, not desperate.
Not all jobs can be found online or in the classifieds. There’s a mythical “hidden job market” factoid claiming anywhere from 40–80% of jobs that get filled never get posted.
Word of mouth remains one of the most effective pipelines for referrals, recommendations, and resume hand-offs, especially at smaller organizations. An insider “angel” can help make sure your application gets noticed. Resumes from referrals get more attention.
“In the ‘gated’ job market…what is the code?” asks marketing blogger Jonathan Blaine. “People…connections…find someone inside the walls. People hire people, not pieces of paper.”
He suggests using LinkedIn® and Twitter to identify contacts within target organizations. Follow companies, participate in forums, and comment on groups, tweets, or blogs.
Conferences, conventions, associations, trade shows, seminars, volunteer work, and job fairs in your field or industry can be invaluable. Keep your networks alive:revive old contacts, reach out to friends, nudge professional acquaintances. Getting that dream job—or any job—still might come down to who you know!