Is your resume sitting in a “black hole?” If you have ever submitted resumes via online application or email and never heard back from the employer, this may be why. The employer’s applicant database can be a “black hole” for your resume.
There are three converging forces that have changed forever how resumes are processed and evaluated, and how applicants are chosen for interviews. Those three include:
1. Competition – there are more people applying for jobs than ever before. Whether unemployed or employed, located in the U.S. or globally, student or retiree, blue collar or white collar (some other color in between!), more of us have gotten into the job-search pool. In addition, what we search for are not only jobs in our current field, but also jobs in other fields (whether related or not). Consequently, one job posting online by an employer can generate tens of thousands of applicants...and more.
2. Time – with lean resources and staffing, employers are doing more with less. Human resources staff, which used to look at and evaluate all resumes submitted, has less time to devote to that task. They now have many other HR duties to perform as well, and often with pared-down staff.
3. Technology – Resume-screening software has evolved to be the most cost-efficient method of determining resumes to be further evaluated for consideration. Rather than having human beings plowing through vast numbers of resumes manually (which could take days and even weeks), resume-screening software enables employer to quickly make their selections.
The consequences of these three converging forces for you, the job-seeker, are critical. Unless your resume is found via an employer’s resume-screening software and scores enough points to make it into the cut-off number of applicants to be interviewed, it will not see the light of day*. Languishing in the employer’s applicant database, unseen by human eyes, is akin to the “black hole”.
* Note: there are other work-around methods for job search that are much more effective in landing interviews than simply focusing all your energies on online applications.
So, what can you do? First, be aware that your existing resume likely does not contain the right keywords (some call these buzzwords), and likely not in the optimum position, for the job you are targeting. Second, take action to improve your resume via keyword optimization.
Optimization means researching to discover the current required and desired keywords for your target job function and industry. As job functions and industries change over time, so do the keywords, which are nouns and noun phrases. The best place to research keywords is in relevant, up-to-date job postings.
Then you have to incorporate those keywords in ways where they can have the most impact in your resume. For example, first-page positioning (especially the top half of the first page) will often score more points for the same keyword than if it were located on the second page.
But keywords also have to make sense in the context of your resume. You cannot simply include a list of required and desired keywords; that is called keyword stuffing and will actually work against you. Employers are wise to that tactic.
Instead, you have to show how the required and desired keywords are relevant to your experience, training, and accomplishments. Well-written accomplishment bullets are the ideal place to showcase keywords and gain maximum impact.
Optimization is the fifth key to a resume with FLAVOR. See previous posts, listed below, for more tips: