There are fewer things more frustrating to we, citizens of the first world, then a job search. And in today’s brave new world, they seem to be getting longer, more arduous, and more frequent. If you’re having trouble getting people to see your resume, if you’re losing hope, if your existential consciousness is slowly being crushed by the sobering realization that all you’re doing is throwing your resume around in cyberspace and screaming into your computer screen, not only are you not alone, you’re right.
Here is a tough truth about the modern job market: most resumes are never actually read by humans in an HR department, and when they are they only get six seconds of review time on average. In fact, most resumes are spit out before human eyes even see them. That’s because these days firms use computer programs to filter through resumes and look for certain key words. And if your resume doesn’t make the cut, more like then not it will never be seen except by cold, heartless robot eyes.
But there is good news: you can still get a real human person to see your resume if you know the right tricks.
- Keep It Simple: Keep your resume’s formatting simple and easy to read. Resume filtering programs can’t handle documents with over-the-top fonts, letterheads, or graphical logos, and will chuck them automatically.
- Paraphrase the Job Post: Rosemary Haefner of careerbuilder.com suggests using similar words and phrases as found in the job post itself to sneak it past the resumebot’s filters. ““The computer will then recognize them and move your resume toward the top of the pile because you will be a match,” Haefner points out. Just be sure not to actually copy and paste the job post in your resume; most hiring managers won’t take kindly to that and may consider it unethical.
- Don’t bother with a “career objective”: Increasingly, articles and Human Resources wizards are telling frantic job seekers not to put a career objective on their resume for one simple reason: the prospective employer doesn’t care about it. Try replacing the career objective with qualifications that help the employer visualize why you’d be their best fit.
- Use Industry Terms to Describe Experience: When listing your employment experience on a resume, don’t get flowery. Once you get past the firewall, The Merchant of Venice won’t be reading your application, but someone with industry experience is. Use common industry terms because those terms are likely what the software is being programmed to pick up on.
If all else fails and you still find yourself in the pit of despair, do whatever you can (within professional reason) to get your resume in front of an employer. A friend of mine from college landed her dream job because she drew a death-metal viking pony on her resume (in crayon, no less) and it got passed around the office (not recommending that, just encouraging you, dear reader, to be creative). Resumebot is ruthless and powerful, but its oppression can only go far. A little commonsense and thinking like a computer can get any resume around resumebots and into the hands of actual people who make actual decisions about actual jobs.