When humans don’t read resumes

Human Resources. The title is a bit misleading. It takes an awful lot to get your resume and cover letter and application into the hands of a real person. This is something a lot of graduates have a hard time accepting. They believe if the HR person just read my resume and cover letter, they will see I’m very qualified! But what if a person never reads those?

A good deal of initial screening is done electronically. Which is why it is so important that you fill out the required electronic forms correctly. If the computer algorithms determine that based on the keywords in your resume and application that you meet the minimum requirements for the position, you’ll be passed to step two.

Step two may or may not be a real person. It may be pitting your keywords against another person’s. If they have more keywords than you do, out your application goes.

So what’s a job seeker to do? This article from Quint Careers offers some suggestions.

  • emphasize nouns AND action verbs (examples: Coordinated marketing campaigns and special events, Managed customer database, product updates and upgrades, Functioned in a project-management role, etc.)
  • Include “hard skills,” such as job-specific/profession-specific/industry-specific skills, technological terms and descriptions of technical expertise (including hardware and software in which you are proficient), job titles, certifications, names of products and services, industry buzzwords and jargon.
  • use the employment ad for keywords (any skills or qualifications they list, make sure those are reflected in your resume and cover letter).
  • use keywords throughout your resume
  • Don’t assume a person is ever going to see your resume. The article states, “humans can make certain assumptions that computers can’t. A commonly cited example is the concept of cold-calling. People who read the phrase cold-calling in your resume will know you were in sales. But unless cold-calling is a specific keyword the employer is seeking in the database search, search software seeking sales experience may not find your resume.”

Additional tips from the article, “some employers don’t want to take the extra step of opening the print version of your resume that you’ve sent as an e-mail attachment, and others won’t do so for fear of viruses” so keep that in mind and include your resume in the text portion of the email as well. Also, don’t forget about interpersonal skills. You are going to have to interact with people regularly. These skills are applicable to all jobs regardless of the field.

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