If you know someone who’s looking for a job—and I’m sure you do—then you may have heard them complain about having sent their resume off to hundreds of employers, only to receive absolutely no responses or acknowledgments. I’ve heard this complaint countless times from friends and colleagues.
Part of the reason this happens so often is because companies really have become much less personal about their hiring processes. They simply can’t respond to every person who contacts them through their online application process. However, there are still people being hired every single day. So what are they doing differently from those who never get a phone call?
KEYWORDS ARE THE GATEKEEPER
A lot of candidates write their resumes from the perspective of, “The person reading this will know what I mean.” The problem is, a lot of times the first reader of your resume isn’t a person at all! Many companies employ resume scanning software to sort through applicants. These programs aren’t sophisticated enough to interpret your experience and know that you’re a good fit. They’re simply set up to weed out and set aside the resumes that contain the same language as that found in the job ad. This means every time you apply for a job, your resume needs to include the same keywords the employer used to describe their open position. And yes, this does mean you will have to customize your resume for every single job if you want to have a realistic chance of getting an interview. And you can’t just use any old keywords—they have to be the right keywords.
LET’S MAKE A MATCH – A PERFECT MATCH
There was a time when applying for any job for which you were somewhat qualified for was an effective strategy. Nowadays, it’s really not. If you have fewer than 95% of the qualifications an employer requires for a particular position, it’s probably not worth your time to apply. With so many people looking for work right now, the employer is guaranteed to get resumes from someone who matches their qualifications—and in most cases, lots of someones.
STATE YOUR CASE
If numerous qualified candidates are applying for every position, how do companies ultimately choose whom to interview? Candidates who make a strong case for their accomplishments in their resume and cover letter go straight to the top of the pile. Every time a company advertises an open position, the hiring managers are bombarded by hundreds of resumes that were obviously submitted with minimal time, effort, or even understanding of the position. If you take the time to customize your resume and compose a cover letter explaining why this is the perfect position for you, your application will be a breath of fresh air to the hiring manager. That’s a great way to start the journey toward your new career!