|CAREERS NOW 04-25-10|
|Why Resumes Go Missing|
DEAR JOYCE: After responding to dozens of job postings, so far I've heard nothing back from any of them. What should I do to keep my resume out of what I've heard described as "a black hole?" - T.A.T.
The resume black hole is a cyberspace cavern where unclaimed resumes go to die. Here's why it exists and what you can do to keep your resumes from being entombed there.
OVERWHELMING MOB. Applying for employment online is such a breeze that job seekers have developed a lottery mentality, applying for anything and everything. Their reasoning: What have I got to lose? Against such staggering numbers, even qualified candidates may not make it past software gatekeepers to a human review. Some companies use auto-responders to acknowledge their receipt of resumes; others don't.
EMPLOYER'S FAULT. When you meet thundering silence, maybe there was no job. Sometimes it was cancelled or frozen, denied budget approval, or never existed outside the hiring manager's wish list. A job listing may have been contracted for 30 days but though the hire was made on day five, the recruiter simply forgot to take down the listing. High-turnover jobs are posted even when there's no immediate opening. A job could have been "wired" for a friend or internal candidate but posted to prove the employer abides by fair hiring practices.
QUALIFYING YOURSELF. Are you part of the problem, blasting out resume after resume hoping that lightning will strike? Stop! Selectively chase only after jobs for which you are a serious contender, unless you really don't mind being ignored.
As a corporate recruiter said: "When I'm looking for a chief operating officer and an experienced fry-cook applies, why should I spend valuable time responding personally?"
RESPONSE TIPS. Customize your resume for each job posting; generic resumes are black-hole bait. Sprinkle your resume with relevant keywords so software searchers can find you. Use the same keywords and phrases you find in the job description. Include slight variations, such as accounting, accountant and accountancy. Use Web resources to research keywords but remember that they usually are nouns (not to be confused with action verbs).
Check posting dates and respond within a few days; once a half-dozen qualified candidates are identified, recruiters often stop screening for that position and move on.
Follow directions given in the job posting, even the tiresome tasks of cutting-and-pasting applications and answering questionnaires. On questionnaires, look for ways to handle potential knockout punches, such as pay requirements, distant location and availability to work weekends.
JOB BOARDS. Give your job board resume new life every few days. Recruiters look only at the last couple days for postings. Make a minor revision, such as deleting a word, typing if back in and saving the change. This simple action lifts your resume to the top again.
Tip: Respond directly to the company posting the job, not to the job board where you found the listing. (You usually can post a graphically attractive resume as a Word attachment in a response to company sites, while job boards prefer boring plain text to save server space.) For more reasons to go company-direct, Web browse for "Job Searching Where Companies Can Find You" by Alison Doyle.
HELLO, HIRING MANAGER. Reach out to the person who can hire you. To identify that person, call the company receptionist or search on the company Web site. Track company and managerial title on Google, LinkedIn and ZoomInfo. Ask your network for help on your Facebook and Twitter pages.
Best move: Find an inside advocate to act as a conduit to the hiring manager.
NEW DIRECTIONS. The intrinsic shortcomings of online job postings may still leave you on the bricks. But at least you now get what's going on. Rather than curse the darkness of the black hole, I hope you're motivated to branch out to additional job search techniques, such as networking, professional associations, job clubs, newspaper business pages and direct application.
Sorry, the volume of mail makes personal replies impossible.