resume isn't getting read

Not getting a response to your resume submission? Do you wonder if anyone is actually reviewing your applications? 

We hear the complaint often where job seekers feel their resumes and applications are being submitted into a black hole as they never get a response to their job inquiries. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the job seeker is not qualified (although it may), but it could mean one of two things:

First – your resume isn’t enriched with the proper keywords for the job. It is estimated that 95-98% of large organizations use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS or ‘Bot’ systems) to scan resumes.  On average, these ‘bots’ eliminate about 75% of all applicants because their resumes don’t include relevant keywords.

Want to beat these resume scanning systems?  We have a couple of articles that may help you to have a ‘robot friendly’ resume

In the meantime, let’s address the second reason your resume isn’t soliciting a response. Indeed estimates that on average, Hiring Managers look at resumes for six to seven seconds.

Were you able to communicate your strengths and expertise to the Hiring Manager within six or seven seconds?  To be most effective, it’s important to remember that Hiring Managers are often overworked and overwhelmed by the sheer number of resumes they receive daily. They are rushed, have very little time to dedicate to reading a resume, and are looking for any reason to throw your resume out. Hiring Managers are smart, skeptical, and unimpressed by big words and fancy job titles; they are looking for content and accomplishments.

To make sure that your resume gets read, keep these tips in mind when crafting and submitting your resume and application:

  • The two questions to always keep in mind when writing your resume are 1) what are Hiring Managers looking for first? and 2) what do you want them to find first?
  • Make sure your resume is clean, organized, and visually appealing. As Hiring Managers are looking for any excuse to reject your candidacy, stylistic and formatting errors as well as layout inconsistencies will send your resume straight to the trash bin. Consider saving your resume as a .pdf so that the formatting and fonts do not change when the Hiring Manager opens the document.
  • It is no longer necessary to include an “objective” on your resume; in fact, some Hiring Managers are so opposed to objectives that they will use it as their excuse to reject your resume. Instead, consider adding a professional summary so the Hiring Manager can quickly see what you bring to the table and how your experience will benefit their company.
  • Tailor your resume to the position, not the industry. Every Hiring Manager will have different priorities and will be searching for different keywords. Investigate the position and job description to identify the qualities you possess which align to the position. Then make those attributes stand out on your resume by echoing relevant tasks from the job description.
  • Consider using a “functional” resume format instead of the standard “chronological” format. For example, if you are applying for an IT position, list the positions you’ve held that have most directly impacted your knowledge and skill sets in the relevant field and/or role first, and then detail the positions you’ve held that may not have as significant an impact.
  • Hiring Managers are not as impressed by the use of verbs as they used to be; the trend in today’s job market is numbers. Readers want to see quantitative data regarding experience and accomplishments, not simply that you’ve done it but what you accomplished while doing it.
  • Be concise. Hiring managers go through thousands of applications to find the best candidate for the job. As a result, they have limited time to spend on each resume- don’t waste space writing an essay about your prior experience. Instead, write a brief summary of your experience on your resume, making sure that the information is relevant to the position you are applying for. 
  • Proofread your resume! It can be tempting to rush through the process. Don’t make this mistake! Instead, take a few extra moments to ensure your resume is written well and grammatically correct.

Make Your Resume Unique

Crafting a unique resume is more than just inserting your personality onto the page or emphasizing your unique qualifications. Do not use gimmicks to draw attention to your resume.  That means no pictures of yourself, no zippy graphics (unless you are applying to be a graphic designer), and no crazy formatting or table layout. What matters when creating an attention-grabbing resume is tailoring the information contained within your resume to the job description for which you are applying. 

Depending on where you are within your career, chances are you have more experience and qualifications than what can fit on a typical one-page resume. And this is okay because limiting your resume to a single page is a myth! If you are more tenured, be sure to tailor your experience by providing enough content to show the hiring manager you are competitive for the position you want. Read the job description- what are the skills they desire for this position? What kinds of experiences do they value? Chances are they will tell you these things verbatim within the description they’ve supplied. Take advantage of this!

Not only should you include experience most appropriate for the job for which you are applying, but there are also ways to make your past positions more appealing to the company or position you are submitting your resume to.

  • Play with the wording. There’s experience worthy of mention on your resume in every job you’ve had before. If you’re having trouble filling your resume with experience relevant to the position, look for relevant skills you’ve learned in other positions you can include on your resume. For example, if you are applying for a human resources position and you’ve previously held lower management positions, chances are you’ve already learned how to draw out the best in people. Don’t be too quick to discard your past experience because the job title isn’t immediately applicable to the position for which you are applying.
  • Put it together thoughtfully. Think carefully about the order in which you’ve listed skills and experiences on your resume. You should start with the most relevant skills and expertise so the hiring manager can see that. 

Why is it Important?

Hiring managers can tell if an applicant has given the same resume to hundreds of different positions. Taking a cookie cutter approach by having one generic resume is a mistake. Your resume should tell your story – both past experience and future goals. Think of it this way, do you want to apply to your dream job with a resume you’ve already used several times for completely different positions? Specifically, tailoring your resume for each position will significantly increase your chances of winning an interview and will likely save you some valuable time in your job search.

Finding a job in today’s market is tough, without a doubt. Chances are you’ve spent your entire adult life building an impressive skill set and an arsenal of experience. Articulating these things on your resume in an appropriate manner is going to be the key to getting noticed and contacted for those positions you’ve been applying for.

Investing in a Lifetime of Success,

Angela Roberts


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