People applying for job after job might easily imagine cold-hearted hiring managers simply tossing piles of resumes into the trash, without even giving them a look. Yet applicants such as Mr. Management compound the problems created by a flood of resumes, a scarcity of jobs and overworked recruiters doing more with less, like everybody else. “Applicants are actually causing the problem by applying for everything,” says Zulic, director of human relations for outsourcing firm Efficient Edge. “Apply for what you’re qualified for, not what you’re not qualified for.”
From a job-seeker’s perspective, it’s rational to apply for every job available. Yet one of the biggest complaints is firing off hundreds of resumes and rarely, if ever, hearing back from employers. Sarah Dennis is a graphic designer based in Albuquerque who estimates she’s applied for more than 200 jobs during the past two years, including retail jobs and other positions that don’t require any of her specialized skills. Most of the time she hears nothing — not even a confirmation that her application arrived. Of six or seven interviews, none has led to a job. “Usually they say, ‘We’ll get back to you in two or three days,’ but then you hear absolutely nothing,” Dennis says. “It’s very, very frustrating.” If there’s a flaw on Dennis’s resume or her approach to job-hunting, nobody has told her.
Some job applicants attempt a kind of sorcery to raise the odds their resume will get a look, highlighting certain keywords or arranging sentence structure in a way they think will get more attention. That may actually be shrewd. Some employers use software to search for keywords in resumes and ease the burden on harried recruiters who don’t have time to read thousands of resumes for every position. Even when there’s no software involved, Zulic says she’ll put hundreds of resumes in one folder on her computer, then manually search for relevant keywords such as “C++” (a programming language), “five years’ experience,” “electrician” and, yes, even “management.”
Still, many applicants make basic mistakes that help explain why they never hear back from employers. Some people apply by email with a resume attached but no message in the email, hoping that will force the recruiter to open the attachment. Bad idea: That just adds to the recruiter’s workload, making a blowoff more likely. A crisp, four- or five-sentence email explaining what you’re looking for, by contrast, will make it easier for the recruiter to know what you’re after.
Recruiters also advise people to send resumes in .pdf format, which can be secured in read-only mode. Many people send Word or Excel documents, which can be inadvertently distorted and even tampered with if, say, somebody processing the resume wants a friend to get the job and is venal enough to sabotage other people’s resumes.
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