Tools to help minimize the resume black hole.
Perhaps the greatest frustration we hear from candidates during their job search is around the dreaded “black hole.” Some of the most common questions include, “Where does my resume go when I apply via a website or job posting? How come I never hear back? What can I do to increase the likelihood of my resume getting seen? What are some tools I could leverage? How can I keep track of all the positions I’m applying for? Do you have any additional tips when applying for jobs via a website/posting?” All great questions, so let’s discuss each one!
Where does my resume go when I apply via a website or job posting?
One of the newer realities of job searching is that your resume has to typically “pass” an ATS (i.e. applicant tracking system) before it is even seen by a recruiter. A recent study found that at least 90% of companies now use some form of an ATS, which means that when you submit a resume or apply for a job posting, your resume first gets uploaded in a system, is then attached to the position you applied for, and then prioritized/ranked according to how well your resume matches the job description and requirements. Here’s a more in-depth article from Jobscan, the provider of one of our favorite tools to “beat the system” on '8 Things You Need To Know about Applicant Tracking Systems,’ which is a really quality and insightful read!
How come I never hear back after I submit my resume?
Again, a crucial point for job seekers is that you’re most likely getting ruled out without ever getting really considered. It’s frustrating, but you have to understand and make peace with the fact that each job posting get hundreds, or even thousands, of applications/resumes. Therefore, it’s simply not possible for a recruiter to even skim each one. Rather, the ATS prioritizes/ranks those resumes for the recruiter, providing them the best matches based on keywords in the resume that match the job description and requirements. The ATS we use ranks applicants on a scale of 0-100, with 100 behind the most relevant for that job. So, “resume optimization” has never been more important if you’re relying on job boards for your job search!
What can I do to increase the likelihood of my resume getting seen? What are some tools I could leverage?
- You now have access to various tools to help you both create a strong optimized resume and then further optimize your resume so you can get past the ATS 'gatekeeper.' Start by using a resume builder, such as Live Career, or Resume Genius, that help you create a strong product that is optimized for those ATS’.
- As you apply for jobs that really interest and excite you, make sure you take the additional step of using a Resume Optimization Tool to evaluate how well your resume matches the job description. Our favorite optimization tool is JobScan. The first month is free, and then if you decide to purchase, you can use the 20% discount we’ve set up with them via JobScan Promotion for Apex. Another Optimization tool is TagCrowd, although we haven’t personally used this tool.
- Do some personal review/quality assurance and enhancements by reviewing the main aspects of responsibilities, and especially requirements, and ensure the key requirements are clearly communicated in your resume multiple times.
Following this advice and using the resume tools can help ensure that your resume doesn't land in a “black hole.” Instead, you can bypass the ATS and your resume will end up in the hands of the person hiring for the role.
How can I keep track of all the positions I’m applying for?
There’s good news here too, as there are several tools/resources for tracking the applications and jobs you are pursuing. Some options are JibberJobber, Career Shift, 44Score, and, JobHero .
Do you have any additional tips when applying for jobs via a website/posting?
- Many job seekers feel overwhelmed in their search, or don’t feel like they’re making progress. Minimize that by having daily or weekly ‘Job Search Action Items’ where you’re taking even small measures towards your overall goal of finding a new satisfying career. One tool we’ve found that helps you capture your action items and also provides advice is called Job Search Power Meter.
- Instead of applying, attempt to go the “referral route” when you can, sending the link to the job to someone in your network who might be able to pass your resume along directly to the Hiring Manager. As a staffing firm, Apex focuses on building strong partnerships with clients who need resources and technical talent who are looking for opportunities. We believe in the power of this process and feel you will benefit from having a local recruiter who supports your skill set. Therefore, as you see opportunities online, it’ll always help your chances of having your resume seen by contacting your recruiter to determine if they have a relationship with that company, and if they’re supporting that opening. If they’re not going to be your “in” or “connector,” do a quick advanced LinkedIn search and determine if any of your 1st degree connections work at the company. If they do, send them a quick email/message and let them know you found an opportunity you’re interested in, and ask if they would be willing to pass along your resume to HR.
- Another common job seeker challenge is to develop resumes that are the appropriate length for the specific use. So, we imagine a lot of you are thinking “You are recommending we should focus on a well-optimized resume that would include all the right buzz words, which may make my resume a lot longer. So, how long should my resume be so I can get through the ATS, but not too long to be ignored?” One of our top suggestions is to have two versions of your resume, one for applying blindly via websites/postings when you don’t have an “in,” and then having a more concise version once you talk to a human. There’s no black and white answer on the resume length for most people, but let’s say to not exceed 4 pages for your all-encompassing “ATS worthy” resume and 1-2 pages for the more concise version you bring to interviews! Having two versions can also indicate you’re the type of person who goes above and beyond.