So what really happens after you submit your resume/employment application on a company’s job portal? Does it zip off into a secret, undisclosed human resources location never to be seen again (kind of like when Violet Beauregarde in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory is whisked away to be squeezed like a blueberry); or, is there really someone out there that reviews…every…single…resume? In many cases in the small- to medium-sized company segment in particular, there is at least a quick review of all applications submitted; or, sometimes only a portion of applications are viewed based on whether or not they meet minimum qualifications – as determined by how applicants respond to standard and job-specific screening questions.
Are you scared now? If so, don’t be – the key to success boils down to intent and content. If you have a strong intent to be considered for this position – which is justified based on your qualifications being a clear potential match for the job’s requirements…and, you take the time to include content in your application or resume that supports your intent and experience, then you are more likely to get noticed – despite the level of technology used by the employer.
Human Review of Your Resume
When a hiring manager or recruiter is reviewing your resume, he/she will quickly glance through it looking for reasons to either remove you from the stack of qualified applicants; or, positive attributes that will propel you on to the next round of the selection process.
What Are Recruiters Seeking From Applicants?
- Spotty Record? Oh No! – If you leave gaps in your work history (either because you were unemployed or did not have a relevant job or were “just chillin’”), you better offer an explanation in your application content or your resume might get tossed to the discard pile based on spottiness alone. Why? Recruiters want to know that you are not prone to bouncing (or rolling if you are like Violet!) from company to company every year or two. If this is your M.O., you may be less likely to make the next round because the recruiter will worry about the potential expense of hiring again if you leave after only a year.
- Education – Many employers have a specific degree they are seeking in the ideal candidate – especially with higher level jobs. If the job requires a Master’s Degree and you do not have one, you may be out of luck (even if you have the other work experience required)
- Start Strong – Make sure your beginning objective statement is compelling. Or, if you use a resume format that doesn’t include an objective statement…make sure the other content on your CV identifies clearly the level/type of position you seek. You have maybe 10 seconds or so (in some cases) to win over the person that is reading your resume so make the most of it!
- Industry Specifics – if you have consistently worked in the health industry but suddenly want to make a jump to manufacturing be aware that you may not make the cut because plenty of other qualified applicants knocking on the employer’s door feature an employment history rich with clear industry parallels.
- Relevant Previous Work History – Obviously, having previous job experience that coincides nicely with the job to which you are applying will help improve the odds that your resume does not end on the floor.
- Location – This seems pretty apparent, but if you are living in Indiana and apply for a job in Florida you may not make it past the first review…unless the job is offering a relocation package or unless you somehow indicate in your cover letter that you are planning to move to the area where the position is being offered. Or, if you are moving due to other reasons, it may be wise to have your new address on the resume so that you do not get skimmed over.
Recruiting Using an ATS
Applicant tracking software is used by all sizes of companies and many recruiting firms. Applicants should note that there will often be “knockout” questions that the employer selects for each job they have posted. Even if an applicant is passed over for the first position to which he/she applies, the candidate’s information stays in the system. The hiring manager can then search through the database of passive applicants using keywords when future jobs open up.
While it is still important to keep the above rules in mind for all resumes, if you are applying to a job through an ATS, it is also to the applicant’s advantage to use relevant keywords (but don’t “stuff” keywords). Rather, be strong and concise in your description of skills and experience. Make sure the job titles are relevant to the job or industry to which you are applying. You may have to tweak your resume depending on each job application, but this little bit of extra work and effort will pay off in the long run – promoting both your intent and ability to submit content that demonstrates your potential job fit.
While it may seem unfair that your resume could get overlooked in some scenarios…by following the tips above you greatly improve your odds of being noticed and catapulting your resume to the proverbial “keep” file (even though that pile is mostly virtual nowadays). Recruiters are inundated with applicants every day and they need to be efficient about finding the right person to fill each position.
Still have questions about how applicant tracking systems work? Contact us at ExactHire to learn more today.