Inundated with résumés both paper and electronic, recruiters and hiring managers have for a long time resorted to scanning machines that try to cut through the clutter. Fifty percent of job hunters don’t possess the basic qualifications for the jobs they pursue and a majority of the rest don’t know how to tell the scanner, “I’m a viable candidate!”
NASA defines “Black Hole” as a place in space where gravity pulls so strongly that even light cannot get out. You don’t want your résumé in there!
Some of how to NOT be swallowed in a ‘black hole:’
Forget about being creative. Instead, mimic the keywords in the pursued job-description as closely as possible. You determine if you are qualified for the job and, if so, write the specific title of the job you want as your objective. Important: Use their “title” vocabulary. This also conquers another hiring manager nuisance…time to help you figure out what you can do for us; you should know what you can do for us before you get here.
More than visiting the prospective employer’s website, visit the employer’s facility and find people to talk to who work there. You need a sense of their corporate culture. What words do they use to describe their values, their mission, and their vision? For example, if a firm has professed an interest in environmental sustainability, include relevant volunteer work or memberships on your résumé. The company may have programmed related keywords into its résumé screening software.
KISS: Keep the formatting and wordsmithing on your résumé simple and streamlined – you don’t want to perplex the software. Don’t get cute with graphics and layout. Sometimes the system can’t tell the difference between a previous position, a previous employer, and which dates you worked where, etc. Submit a cover letter every chance possible and address it to a live person in the firm…even if it’s the wrong person. Provide two résumé versions at every opportunity…a Word version for reading and a text only version for scanning.
Education: Some screening systems assign higher scores to elite schools. You may not have gotten a degree from a top-tier university, but if you attended a continuing-education class at one, include it on your résumé.
Liar, liar pants on fire: Don’t! Exaggerations to get through the screening process end poorly…for you. Savvy hiring managers know the tricks jobseekers use such as typing false qualifications in white font. Everyone knows that jobs evolve, but job titles don’t. Don’t make up a title to fit the work you did. Use the title as it appears in your personnel file. Believe me, you do not want to go through the stress of inteviews only to find out that a clerk checked a previous employer and found out you lied about your position title on your résumé.
Résumé overload isn’t just a big-company problem. According to HR Digest, only 19% of small company hiring managers even look at a majority of the résumés they receive and 47% admit that they review “just a few.”
A targeted pursuit, simplicity, and some professional-swagger should be the anti-gravity you need to avoid a “black hole.”