Who Is Reading That Resume You Submitted?

by Peg Bogema

Whenever Stout Systems' Ursula Kellman goes on vacation, I inherit my old job of processing all the resumes that come in. Thank goodness she's back, because after two weeks of it, I've had my fill. How she can work her way through all of the stuff that comes in day in and day out without losing her sanity is beyond me.

For everyone who is job hunting out there, and apparently that's at least one in ten here in Michigan, a helpful hint:

When a company posts an advertisement, unless it's for a highly specialized job, the person who filters the resumes is going to be swamped. Your submission has to somehow distinguish itself. How do you do that?

Chances are that the person on the receiving end is power reading. If you had a hundred resumes to review (per day, mind you), you wouldn't dwell on each one. You'd go FAST. That's what I had to do. Look, when I reviewed resumes, it wasn't happening when the sun was shining. I had my own job to do during business hours. So it happened at night after I put my toddler to bed. Trust me, I wasn't about to spend a lot of time on each one.

So let me give you some examples of what worked and didn't:

We were recruiting a QA engineer for a client that insisted candidates have at least two years in the medical domain. Okay, yes, I can read through an entire resume and try to work out the domain for each employer and add up the experience in my head to make sure it's at least two years. OR the candidate can say in the email cover letter, hey, I have three years of experience in the medical domain, two at XYZ Company and one at ACME. NOW I'm interested in reading the resume.

Another: Job description clearly states that candidates have to have MFC experience. I read a nice C++ resume with no mention of MFC. What do I do? Disqualify the candidate because no MFC? Assume MFC? Ask? In this case, I asked the candidate whether or not he had MFC experience. Wow, yes, he does. Now that's something he easily could have put in a cover letter or included in his skills matrix in his resume. If I had opted for (a) disqualify, he would not have made it past Mrs. Gate Keeper.

And another: Candidate lives in California. The position I'm trying to fill is in Michigan. Right on the cover letter the candidate says, wait, don't press the DELETE key! I have family in Michigan and am anxious to move there! I will pay for my relocation expenses! Okay, you have my attention. I will give your resume a fair reading.

The best way to summarize what I think is happening is that recruiters are power reading and candidates are power submitting. Candidate sees a job advert that vaguely matches his or her skills (maybe...maybe not...depends upon whether or not the candidate read the full ad). So candidate clicks a link to submit a resume, doesn't provide a cover letter or, worse, copies/pastes the same multi-purpose cover letter from some job hunting book, clicks SEND, wonders why never gets a response.

If you want to distinguish yourself, if you really are interested in a job advert, take a couple of minutes to write something that briefly tells the recruiter why you think you're a good match.

I think that will help any job hunters. And since Ursula is planning another vacation for the summer, it will certainly help me!

As always, we're interested in hearing how your job search is going. Feel free to contact us.

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