Is it the sound of crickets that you hear each time you submit your application for a role that you know you’re perfectly qualified for?

Have you sent your resume in response to numerous advertised roles and had no response, or at best a “thanks… but no thanks”?

If that sounds familiar then read on to find out what really happens to your resume once you click on the ‘Apply’ button online.

From my experience as an ex-recruiter and now as a career management coach, every new job advertisement can elicit a huge number of resumes.  I’ll tell you what tends to happen...

When I was a recruiter some of my job advertisements generated between 100 - 200 applications overnight! Many recruitment agencies and larger companies use selection software (such as ‘Turbo Recruit’) that automatically scans resumes for key words that are a match to the job advertisement. Each resume is ranked according to the percentage of key word matches. Some smaller organizations still screen resumes manually. You can imagine how time consuming the initial screening of resumes can be.

After resumes are screened, then what happens?

The screener is looking for resumes that will fall into the categories of ‘Yes’ or ‘Maybe.’ The ‘Yes’ and ‘Maybe’ resumes will be given a more thorough reading after the initial screening. The ‘No’ resumes will be out. Those candidates who are in the ‘No’ pile may, or may not, receive an email letting them know that they have been unsuccessful. Often it’s an automated response along the lines of ‘We have received many applications from candidates who are a close match to our requirements and unfortunately you were not successful.’

Which resumes end up in the ‘No’ pile?

The resumes that don’t match those key words required for the role, the resumes that have typographical errors, the resumes that are hard to follow, the ones with unexplained gaps in employment, the ones that don't address the selection criteria, the ‘generic’ resumes and the resumes from candidates who simply send the same resume for every role without tailoring the resume to highlight the skills that are required.

What about the resumes that end up in the ‘Yes’ or ‘Maybe’ pile?

Perhaps they are from candidates who were referred by another employee or were recommended by a friend, and those candidates who demonstrated in their resumes the closest match to all the relevant key words in the job advertisement. After more in depth consideration the ‘Maybe’ resumes that join the ‘Yes’ resumes will generate a screening phone call or email suggesting a time for an interview.

Those successful resumes will probably an initial phone-screening interview. The hiring manager will have provided the screener with specific requirements for the role (hope that those requirements don’t change during the selection process – sometimes changes do happen which are frustrating to the screener, the recruiter and disappointing to the applicant.)

If the candidate is granted an interview another waiting process for the candidate begins. There will be interviews, feedback, more questions, and more interviews.

These interviews might be one-on-one or panel interviews, there may be psychometric assessments; skills assessments and/or role-play situations and presentations to be made as part of the selection process. Between each stage there will be a waiting period, often agonising for the candidate. If the process continues successfully there will be reference checks, salary negotiations, background checks and finally – hopefully – an offer.

Kickstart your career

Meanwhile, back to those resumes that didn’t quite make it. The odds of those candidates getting an email or an actual phone call thanking them for taking the time to apply are not very high. Some companies will respond to each and every applicant. Many don’t.

What can you do to maximize your chances of getting in to the pile of ‘Yes’ resumes so you continue in the selection process?

  • Make sure you are a fit for all of the ‘must have’ requirements of the role
  • Go through the job description carefully and ensure that the key words in the advertisement are reflected in your career summary in your resume and in the body of your resume (providing you have those skills and aptitudes, of course!)
  • Make sure your resume demonstrates what type of professional you are with how many years of experience in what industries or areas of specialization – tailor this information to ensure you are a close match for the role for which you are qualified to apply
  • Ensure that your resume include Accomplishments that highlight the value add you brought to your current and previous roles
  • Ensure your resume demonstrates that you will provide an effective solution to fill the need of the hiring manager
  • Make it easy for the screener to see how close a match you are to the requirements of that specific role
  • If you are able to gain an introduction and recommendation prior to applying, through a member of your network, this will help to strengthen your chances of securing an interview
  • Make a call to the consultant handling the recruitment for the position prior to applying. This will give you the chance to sell yourself on the phone and make yourself known to the screener so they will look out for your resume if they are impressed with your telephone manner.
  • Follow up with the screener to ensure that your resume has been received.
  • If you don’t hear after a week or so, follow up again to find out if you are in consideration.

Also, expand your job search so that you have several options on the go at any given time. This will enable you to move forward, stay focused and remain positive whatever the outcome of any individual application. Follow best practice and it won’t be crickets you hear any longer. Good luck!

 Jane Jackson is a career management coach, speaker and author of #1 Amazon Australia best seller, Navigating Career Crossroads – How to Thrive When Changing Direction.

Visit www.janejacksoncoach.com to download the first chapter of her book or to access free eBooks on ‘How to Find the Job You’ll Love’ and ‘Dress for Success in Business”.

Summary

There’s a certain process that is followed after resumes have been submitted. In order to maximise your chance of getting onto the ‘Yes’ pile, there are a few things you should do including:

  • Meeting all the ‘must have’ criteria on the job posting
  • Ensure your resume demonstrates that you will be provide the solution
  • Follow up to ensure your resume has been received
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