Where is the Resume Black Hole?

You painstakingly customized your resume and cover letter to apply to the position, and you’ve been patiently waiting for a response and…nothing!  You check your phone to make sure that it’s working and there is still no peep from the employer.  After this has happened several times, you start to wonder, where does your resume go?  Is there a room full of resumes in every office?  If they are ignoring all the resumes that they receive, how do they fill the position?  Follow the path of a typical resume and learn how to make sure that yours doesn’t get lost in the black hole:

Going through an automated screener.  In some cases, particularly with larger employers, all resumes must pass through an automated screener.  This means that if the automated screener screens your resume out, it will never be seen by human eyes.  To ensure that your resume passes this stage, include keywords that were used in the job advertisement and avoid any complicated fonts or formatting.

Sitting in an inbox. If you haven’t received a response, there is a good chance that your resume is sitting in an e-mail inbox.  The key to making sure that your e-mail is actually read is to have a professional e-mail address and an effective subject line.  To assess your e-mail address, e-mail yourself and see how your name and e-mail address are presented.  Would you be impressed if you were an employer?  The subject line is also important.  Make your subject line clear, direct and professional; don’t write anything cute.  An effective subject line would be “Applying to the Office Clerk Position”.  If the job advertisement asks you to quote a specific job number, it is a good idea to quote the number both in the subject line and in the text of the e-mail.

Sitting on someones’ desk.   There is also a strong possibility that your resume is sitting in a pile on someones’ desk.  While it can be difficult to get your resume to the top of that pile, it helps if it is nicely formatted, and if it is not more than two pages long.

Going through a human screener.  Human screeners are similar to automated screeners in that they look for keywords.  However, with human screeners, it is important that your resume is error free and is customized to the particular position.

On the manager’s desk.  Hooray!  Your resume has finally reached the manager!  To ensure that the manager feels inclined to invite you in for an interview, include specific and quantifiable accomplishments, industry language, and a cover letter that shows your enthusiasm for the position, and clearly outlines how you are a good fit.

How can you help move your resume along?

Often, your resume may get stuck at one stage, and you never get that call. When that happens, there are two ways to nudge your resume along:

Networking:  The easiest way to make sure that your resume is actually seen by the manager is by knowing someone inside the organization.  If your resume is brought to the manager’s attention by somebody that they trust, they will at least give it a glance.      

Following up:  If you don’t know anybody in the organization, following up is the next best thing.  When you follow up on your resume, the employer will often pull your resume from the file to ensure that they have received it.  This automatically brings your resume to the top of the pile.  Also, following up on the application gives you the opportunity to impress the employer with your professionalism and your enthusiasm, and it causes them to see you as a person and not just a piece of paper.

When you are excited about a position, and you’ve gone through a big effort to apply, waiting for a response can be painful.  However, it is important to remember that the application process takes time.  The best approach is to apply for the position, make a note of when you should be following up, and then move on and explore other options.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo From: Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net)


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