Job security: the power of options.

Is your resume even getting looked at? 

Maybe. For about 6 seconds.

That’s the average – 6 seconds. Think about it from the employer’s perspective. Usually a hiring manager (that doesn’t perform the job function) will task a recruiter or HR person to sift through hundreds of resumes by giving them a job description. Of course, that’s if a human is looking at the resumes (stay tuned for my post about “bots” or the tracking software employers use). The HR person uses this description and posts the requirements on a job board.

The hiring manager wants 5 candidates to be set up for interviews. Then:

1. HR or recruiter goes through resumes, scanning them, extracting the info she needs (nothing more) that’s listed in the description to find a few that seem to meet those requirements.

She is not looking for how things translate from other jobs (like you hope she will) – not that she knows how to do that. Her job is to scan and align the requirements of the description with what it explicitly says on your resume.

If the role is “Customer Service Specialist,” she wants to see that you’ve specifically held that role, and not something that translates into that role (i.e., a server can be a customer service specialist?). This is especially true the higher up you go.

If it’s missing anything, she moves on. Thus, you want to make the resume EASY on the eye, and easy for her to extract the info she needs. No fluff!

2. Once she gets those 5 candidates for interviews, she stops. In other words, if she’s got the 5 candidates for interviews, maybe it took her 30 or 40 resumes to get those. You don’t think she goes through 200 resumes, do you? The sad part is that there may be a diamond in the rough, but it will never get looked at. It’s all in the slush pile.

3. Now, if all 5 interviews are duds, she’ll return to looking, although by now there’s probably 400 resumes that have since come in.

This is tough to take. But this knowledge can be good. Now you see why it’s important to stand out and make things easy on the reader.

What you must do:

Give her what she needs.

Think of it like this: 95% of those resumes are crappy. If you are on your game, you’ll be better than 95%. But, you can see how using fluff like “team player” or “people person” doesn’t help, because everyone says it! And, it means nothing because, after all, who’s going to say they are not a people person? If 347 resumes say the same thing, how refreshing is someone that’s different?

Don’t get discouraged.

On one hand, for higher (i.e., executive) roles, being #2 out of 400 doesn’t help, or, as Ricky Bobby would say, “If you’re not first, you’re last.” But stick with it and strategize long-term. In part, it’s a numbers game, and if you are consistently doing the “right things” you’ll surprise yourself. Remember, it could be that the role you end up in isn’t one you’ve thought of yet.

Don’t take it personally.

Learn to detach as it’s no bearing on your value. Learn and move on. Adjust your strategy. If you can’t handle the heat and take it personally every time, you won’t last long.

Only about 2% of applicants get the interview.

This is why, long-term, you need to stay in the game and do the right things. You might need the help of a ninja…


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