Why Submitting Your Resume Isn’t Enough
So, you’ve been putting in applications, and you haven’t had a bite. There could be many reasons for this. Often, people looking for employment treat the job hunt as if it were a job. This is a good philosophy to have, but applying to openings is only half the battle.
You may be able to get an application into recruiters’ hands, but even a solid resume might be overlooked for a number of reasons. There are some common mistakes that could result in you being dismissed without knowing it.
Too Many Resumes, Too Little Time
For most job openings, companies must sift through an average of 250 resumes, and they start coming in about 3 minutes after posting. If employers use outside resources like ZipRecruiter, the numbers can skyrocket. For example, around 400,000 resumes are added to Monster.com on a weekly basis (BeHiring). This adds layers of competition, even for promising candidates.
Resume Errors that Lead to Rejection
Employers simply don’t have time to read each resume, which means they will eliminate options as quickly as possible. In the early stages of the process, hiring managers look for easy excuses to reject a submission. One slipup is all it takes. Recruiters report the following:
- 76% will reject a resume for having an unprofessional looking email address (BeHiring).
- 61% will disqualify applicants if their forms have noticeable typos (Careerbuilder).
- 43% will dismiss resumes that contain spelling errors (Adecco).
- Many also exclude candidates if dates on the resume reveal a lack of current employment.
This may seem unfair, but the reality is that these mistakes show carelessness. Letting them slide can even reflect poorly on a recruiter if the application goes further along.
Giving Your Resume Proper Emphasis and Visual Appeal
After ensuring your document has no typos or other issues, formatting it correctly is key. Good organization alone could improve your chances of consideration by almost 60% (TheLadders). A sloppy resume seems unprofessional and gives hiring managers a reason to disregard it. Carefully clean it up to make it more attractive and easier to read.
A Small Window of Opportunity
Studies show that employers spend 6 seconds on average reading each resume (BeHiring). This means you need to be sure recruiters can locate the info they want to see in as little time as possible. It’s important to organize a resume into scannable sections so the right facts are easy to find and clearly listed.
Topics Resumes Should Focus On
Hiring managers want to maximize the amount they can learn vs. how long they have to read. There are four main areas of concern that employers spend roughly 4 out of their 6 seconds looking at:
- Education experience
- Previous job titles
- Names of companies where you worked
- Dates and durations of past jobs
These items need to be displayed clearly and prominently on your resume. Otherwise, recruiters might pass over it. This allows them to get the most complete picture of an applicant’s qualities in the shortest length of time. Anything else on the form will likely be glimpsed for just 2 seconds.
Using Social Media to Complement Your Resume
Avoid Bad Online Habits
A candidate may be rejected based on things not directly related to a resume or application. As part of the selection process, recruiters often view social network accounts. Controversial profile pictures or offensive content can make someone seem unprofessional and unsuitable for the job. Your online presence needs to reflect the type of person you would hire.
Make the Most of the Internet
Of course, you shouldn’t ignore these avenues completely. Rather than scrubbing away your online presence, use it to supplement your resume. Businesses often use LinkedIn as a source to find strong candidates. Some spend nearly 20% of their time looking at profile photos on the site (TheLadders). Organize it much like a resume, and use the opportunity for extra visibility.
Resume Scanning Software
Many companies use an automated computer system to process resumes. Oftentimes, these programs are only able to read from standard text document file types, like:
Other kinds of files, namely PDFs, may pass through the program unread since the content within can’t be processed.
Search for the Right Words
These programs also scan for keywords related to the job. A lot of applicants fail to customize their resume for each opening. If you’re already trimming it down for clarity, it is helpful to ensure you include specific terms relevant to that exact job. Place the words visibly so recruiters spot them quickly too.
Submitting Resumes for Jobs with Chances of Hire
Only Apply for Open Positions
Don’t waste time applying for a job that is not currently hiring. Most companies lack the resources to review applications if they are not actively recruiting. Resumes submitted during these periods often go unnoticed or get lost. If kept on file, it is usually for a short term. Recruiters are much more likely to view submissions when targeted at a specific opening.
Check Job Qualifications
Additionally, some employers report that as many as 50% of the candidates for any given position are unqualified to do the work (Wall Street Journal). Always confirm that you meet the requirements before applying. Taking a shot in the dark will probably result in the resume being ignored and your time being wasted.
Overcoming Uncontrollable Factors
Fighting an Uphill Battle
There are several deciding factors that are beyond your control. For instance, recruiters often hold work experience in high regard. Thus, resumes from recent graduates might be less attractive. About 66% of employers think new college grads are not ready to work (Adecco). Certain managers even hold biased views toward different personal details, schools, names, or past jobs.
Sharpen Your Resume
While there is no way to get around these factors, they may be overlooked if an application is otherwise strong. This is why it is important to make sure your resume is neat, accurate, and impressive. Stress the skills you possess that directly relate to the job. Doing so can help you survive the first few cutting attempts.
Every Step Counts
Your resume, application, and online presence create the story of the person you are. Since these pieces are all employers will know about you until an interview, it’s up to you to be sure the story is clear and well-told. The forms might be reviewed for just a few short seconds, so you must use the space wisely.
Less is More
It may seem like a good idea to try and fit in as much as possible, but it is more effective to limit information so that it is concise and has room to breathe. You should custom-tailor a resume to each job so the items you want to highlight will stand out. Even if you don’t have a lot of experience to list, presenting it in a clear, appealing manner makes a difference.
By following these guidelines, you help ensure that your application isn’t thrown out for easily-remedied errors. While the odds might not be in your favor, the extra effort can increase the chances of getting a job. Make your resume work for you, not against you.