It Isn’t the Resume That is Broken

It Isn’t the Resume That is Broken


As a recruiter, I’m always getting people asking me for advice about their job search. That’s fine with me. I enjoy being helpful. If they’ve gotten that far, the conversation usually commences with a discussion of phone interview questions. However, a majority of the time, they are really asking because they happen to have been trying for months and can’t get an interview.

Most of the people will start asking me questions about what’s wrong with their resume, because they believe there must be some problem with their resume or background that is keeping them from getting a call back from the company’s recruiting department. Their conclusions are reasonable based upon everything they’ve heard. They have followed the typical wisdom by submitting resumes to email addresses as instructed on job postings, or they’ve submitted resumes through job boards. That’s how the employers tell everyone it works.

The issue is, that resume submission just happens to be the lowest result yielding activity involved with job searching. That shocks the majority of people who don’t work in hiring or staffing. I tell people that they are simply putting all their effort into the activity that gives the least results, and it shocks them. So, I’ve got to let them have some background and explain.

I generally skip bringing up certain technology factors that have an impact but aren’t the big story. For example, there are many automatic document scanning programs used that search countless submission looking for certain keywords. If the correct keywords don’t show within the resume, then not a single person ever sees it. However, you never know if the person in recruiting vetting the applications even knows the right keywords to enter into the search field. That can especially be true for very technical positions.

My explanation usually starts by speaking about my average experience with a job posting. When I create an advertisement for a position, regardless of how detailed the ad or strict the qualifications required, many hundreds of people apply during the first day. So, after an hour or so, there is a giant digital pile of paperwork for me to examine. Additionally, people are calling the office, other interview are going on, contracts are being negotiated, and other searches are happening all simultaneously. The bottom line is, that like most professionals, I am in a time crunch.

So, with regards to that pile of resumes, most people find a point and get started. It could be the first submitted. It could be the last in at the top of the email, or maybe it’s somewhere in the middle. Usually then, they simply scan through the resumes until they find 3 to 5 solid candidates to interview. Following that, the review process stops, and the phone interview process moves on with those 3-5. All additional applicant’s files collect dust and don’t get touched unless they fail to hire one of the ones previously identified.

Following a shocked period of silence ,as the other party processes that information, I then move ahead to share better alternatives for job hunting. So, don’t assume that the reason why you aren’t getting interviews or phone calls is because of something lacking in the substance or form of your resume. Often, a perfect person for a position is just lost in the realities of the time constraints of the human resource function.


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