Due to the downturn of the economy, many companies nationwide have laid off some of their employees. Their sales have fallen, pressuring them to cut their workforce in an attempt to reduce costs. As a result, companies that are hiring are being flooded with applications from those who have been laid off, as well as recent college graduates entering the job market for the first time. Since employers receive many applications for each job opening, they have to rely on software to filter out applicants who do not seem to meet the position’s requirements. It is not convenient or cost-effective for them to review each resume that they receive, given that many applicants who are desperately looking for a job are applying to any position that is available. Companies know that many individuals apply to jobs that do not even match their skills or education.
Nowadays HR spends less than 5 minutes reviewing a resume.
They run all resumes through software that scans each document for specific keywords. For example, let us assume that Company X is searching for a marketing assistant. Furthermore, let us assume that the company wants someone who has extensive knowledge of social media. Human Resources representatives punch in keywords such as “social media skills” or “experience marketing through social media platforms”. If a resume contains those keywords, then it passes the initial screening. However, resumes that do not mention those keywords will be filtered out. The application won’t be considered. The applicant does not hear back or receive a rejection letter.
Jobseekers can increase their chances of getting their application to the next stage by inserting the right keywords in their resumes.
They can figure out what keywords the employer will be looking for by carefully analyzing the job description the company representative has posted online. For example, Company X might have stated, “Looking for a computer-savvy marketing assistant to build and update our social media platforms.” An applicant who is very interested in being considered for this job should include the words “social media” under her/his skills. In addition, it helps to provide a line or two about her/his knowledge and experience with social media management, campaigns, analysis, etc. Software can also search for related keywords and relevant experience. Thus, applicants who have experience with social media but fail to mention that in their resume will be filtered out in the initial screening. They won’t have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills even if they are experts in social media marketing. It is also a good idea for the applicant to mention her/his computer skills. Since the job description clearly mentions that the employer is looking for a marketing assistant who possesses strong computer skills, applicants should list their relevant skills. For instance, the applicant could insert “excellent computer skills” or “extensive experience with Microsoft Office, Illustrator, Outlook, Quickbooks, Photoshop, etc”.
Some applicants misunderstand how the process works.
They try to stuff their resume with keywords and wonder what they are doing wrong when they do not hear back from employers. As software can detect relevant keywords, it can also determine who is stuffing keywords to get through the initial screening. Resumes that contain a certain percentage of keywords will pass the screening. Applicants should carefully study the job description in order to figure out which keywords the employer will expect to see. They can dramatically increase their chances of receiving a call. A lot of people who are actively looking for a job have friends or have heard of people who receive multiple phone calls each week. They wonder what such candidates are doing to get their foot in the door. They have heard that many companies are using software in their hiring process but have no idea what algorithm it uses to toss applications.
While many jobseekers are frustrated with hiring process that highly depend on software, some have learned to use this system to their advantage. When applicants are clever enough to use concise wording and to tailor their resume to match the description the employer is seeking, they have been successful in their job search, even in a recession. They understand that they have a few minutes to impress or disappoint HR. The ones who play the game right receive more calls, in-person interviews, and job offers. Jobseekers should just accept that they have to adjust their strategy to the current conditions. Due to high competition for job openings, applicants have to try very hard to stand out and grab the attention of hiring managers. In the old days HR managers would manually review each cover letter and resume. They would spend more time on each applicant. However, today companies have a compelling reason to use software to filter applicants who do not seem well-qualified for an open position. Jobseekers who learn how hiring processes have transformed and adjust to the changes significantly increase their chances of hearing back from Human Resources when they apply for a position.