Skip to comments.Your Résumé vs. Oblivion (Companies Resort to Software to Sift Job Applications for Right Skills)
Posted on 01/25/2012 9:21:55 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Many job seekers have long suspected their online employment applications disappear into a black hole, never to be seen again. Their fears may not be far off the mark, as more companies rely on technology to winnow out less-qualified candidates.
Recruiters and hiring managers are overwhelmed by the volume of résumés pouring in, thanks to the weak job market and new tools that let applicants apply for a job with as little as one mouse click. The professional networking website LinkedIn recently introduced an "apply now" button on its job postings that sends the data in a job seeker's profile directly to a potential employer.
While job boards and networking websites help companies broadcast openings to a wide audience, potentially increasing the chance the perfect candidate will reply, the resulting flood of applications tends to include a lot of duds. Most recruiters report that at least 50% of job hunters don't possess the basic qualifications for the jobs they are pursuing.
To cut through the clutter, many large and midsize companies have turned to applicant-tracking systems to search résumés for the right skills and experience. The systems, which can cost from $5,000 to millions of dollars, are efficient, but not foolproof.
Ed Struzik, an International Business Machines Corp. expert on the systems, puts the proportion of large companies using them in the "high 90%" range, and says it would "be very rare to find a Fortune 500 company without one.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
In relation to this article, I got this e-mail advise from a recruiter friend :
How to Beat the ‘Black Hole’
You don’t have to be an astronomer to know about one kind of black hole: the online job application process.
But have hope. There are things you can do to increase the chances of getting your résumé through employers’ applicant screening systems, say experts Josh Bersin, CEO of human-resources consulting firm Bersin & Associates and Rusty Rueff, career and workplace expert at Glassdoor.
Below, five tips to up your odds:
1.Forget about being creative. Instead, mimic the keywords in the job description as closely as possible. If you’re applying to be a sales manager, make sure your résumé includes the words “sales” and “manage” (assuming you’ve done both!).
2.Visit the prospective employer’s website to get a sense of the corporate culture. Do they use certain words to describe their values? If a firm has a professed interest in environmental sustainability, include relevant volunteer work or memberships on your résumé. The company may have programmed related keywords into its resume screening software.
3.Keep the formatting on your résumé simple and streamlinedyou don’t want to perplex the software. With a past position, the system “sometimes gets confused about which is the company, which is the position, and which are the dates you worked there,” especially if they’re all on a single line, says Mr. Bersin. To make sure you hit all the categories, put them on separate lines. And “don’t get cute with graphics and layout,” says Mr. Rueff.
4.Some screening systems assign higher scores to elite schools. You may not have gotten your B.A. from a top-tier university, but if you attended a continuing-education class at one, include such qualifications on your résumé.
5.But don’t ever lie or exaggerate just to get through the screening process. Recruiters and ATSs are savvy about tricks jobseekers use (such as typing false qualifications in white font). “You don’t want to get through the black hole and find out it’s a worse hole you got yourself into,” Mr. Rueff says.
One small error, such as listing the name of a former employer after the years worked there, instead of before, can ruin a great candidate’s chances.
“There are some things parsers are just too stupid to figure out,” says Bersin & Associates Chief Executive Josh Bersin. And they do add to job seekers’ impression that submitting applications online is largely futile, even after that person customizes a résumé for a job that seems a natural fit.
“I kind of wonder if some of the jobs I’m applying to even exist,” says Asa Denton, a 31-year-old software programmer in Reno, Nev., who has been job hunting for four months.
Elaine Orler, president of Talent Function Group LLC and an expert on the tracking systems, says they should be more candidate-friendly. In the future, she says, forward-thinking companies will allow applicants to check the status of their applications online. The bottom line, she adds: “Candidates deserve respect.”
For all their flaws, recruiters generally prefer the automated systems. Texas Roadhouse Inc., a restaurant operator with 350 locations, plans to adopt a tracking system this year to handle the flow of applications for hourly jobs.
Julie Juvera, head of human resources at the chain’s headquarters in Louisville, Ky., says she gets as many as 400 résumés for a job opening within 24 hours after listing it online. “We used to hand-write a postcard to every single applicant saying ‘thank you so much for applying.’ But that’s become too overwhelming and tedious.”
Now the company sends an automated email to an applicant to tell him his résumé is being reviewed, and that it will contact him if it considers him for a job.
Résumé overload isn’t just a big-company problem. Job seekers often are surprised when they don’t hear back from small businesses. These businesses rarely hire enough people to make an applicant-tracking system cost-effective, but even a one-time posting on a well-trafficked job board like Monster.com can garner hundreds of responses.
Only 19% of hiring managers at small companies look at a majority of the résumés they receive, and 47% say they review just a few, according to a recent survey by Information Strategies Inc., publisher of Your HR Digest, an online newsletter.
When Mr. Denton, the software programmer, sent his résumé to Google, Inc. and Walt Disney Co., he wasn’t terribly surprised when he received nothing but an email acknowledgment, but he expected a more personal response from a small Reno company.
When he called to ask for an update on his application, he was told the company’s vice president was in charge of hiring, and surmised that the executive was too busy to read through the submissions. “What I’m going to do is turn up on their doorstep,” says Mr. Denton. “I really have nothing to lose.”
i’ve also heard, cut and paste the job description into a white font (making it invisible to the eye) on the bottom of your resume. it will not show up, but the software will still read the key words and not bump the resume. not sure if it works.
Most companies were already doing that using people for ages. Where my wife is at the first screen of applicants is the list scan, the job posting had a list of qualifying skills, they take that list and go through the resumes, if every word in that list isn’t on your resume you’re out. That’s been step 1 for them for decades.
That might get you past the software but it probably won’t get you past the first human. One of the things most humans screening resumes for a job that requires any level of technical knowledge will do is “reveal codes”. It’s easy to get a well formatted resume by “brute force” (lots of spaces and returns) it takes some software skill to use the features the editor provides, and reveal codes will let them know how you got yours so pretty, it’ll also show any white text you used to get past the software, now they’ll eyeball your normal text and see you don’t have all the quals and you’re out.
If one has any true ability, the Real Step One is to avoid these HR people and their software altogether.
Depends on where you’re trying to get hired. Most bigger companies there is no avoiding HR. Even if you have a friend hand deliver the resume it still has to go through the process. Too many law suits out there, everybody needs to cover their butts, which is a large part of why the process is there.
The notion of a one size fits all, blanket resume should be forgotten by job seekers. Tailor your resume to the position, playing up pertinent skills and experience, and downplaying irrelevant skills and experience. Try to be their ideal candidate on paper, within the bounds of honestly defensible descriptions.
“ive also heard, cut and paste the job description into a white font (making it invisible to the eye) on the bottom of your resume. it will not show up, but the software will still read the key words and not bump the resume. not sure if it works.”
If you are going to do something like that, put the keywords within the first 500 words of your resume. Something I was told a long time ago was to take all those skills that go at the end and put it up top.
Essentially job hunting is going to become, “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You.”
yeah. i can see how that method would be a problem, i just thought it was interesting from the standpoint of not getting it s-canned right off the bat.
Last I heard, you were not allowed to do that on the online job boards (Monster, CareerBuilder, etc).
You could have a list of keywords, but they had to be identified as such, and in the same font size and color as the rest of the resume or job posting.
Another thing to be aware of with those online application processes, is that it tracks you on the uniqueness of your email address. So if you are working with a headhunter for a role, and you already applied to the company for another position on your own through the system, the system may reject you as being already in.
RE: If one has any true ability, the Real Step One is to avoid these HR people and their software altogether.
And how does one get to the ultimate decision maker directly?
No law suits if you employ a "consultant."
I've done work for multiple members of the Dow 30 and the most I've ever had to do with HR at any is to go there to get a badge.
I can’t count how many resumes I have posted with absolutely no reply. Occassionally you get an automated “we received your application” email but even those are rare.
Heck I put down “Bon Vivant and Recreational Killer” and still got through.
Consultant life is different. All across the board. With good and bad parts. Me I would never do it, I don’t like change, I like to land in a job and stay there. 9 1/2 years here.
Yeah, but for employers it's an incredibly better deal. No quotas. No hassle about letting someone go, either because the guy turns out to be a turkey or the work dries up. And they get treated like a customer to boot. I just got a call yesterday from someone I had never talked to before about a job I did two years ago, and I did everything I could to help him.
My current employer is featuring me in the newsletter this month.
Being called in for a personal review (coincidently, the request came exactly one day after a rave review from a notoriously troublesome client). Whispered rumors of a sizable increase coming.
(Oh, hey, and pinging JR too.... if the increase is good I will go right back to the monthlies.... the problem has been, I've been paying out nearly one payroll a month to creditors to make up for all my bad behavior over the years.... but with an increase I might be back in black!)
Dude, I've got MAD skills.
But I cannot avoid HR.
Well, I kinda can, I get an employer who is fixated on getting me aboard, so they work with HR to get me through.
But I still go through HR.
Depends on what the employer is looking for. I work on a product that comes with lots of parts, it takes a good 6 months of working with it to become competent in a large enough portion to be useful (ancient products are so fun), and that’s in any job title from support to dev. When you’ve got entry learning curve you want people to stick around. A “normal” 1 year consultant gig means that just about the time the person is really starting to contribute they’re looking for their next gig. We want employees, long term employees. The entire engineering team has been here at least 5 years, got a few members past 15. We have no interest in consultants, it’s not our model. Not that they’re bad, they just won’t work here.
How about new development where it takes six months just to understand the requirements? If you want someone who can do that, your best bet is to look for someone who's done it before.
1 year consultant gig means that just about the time the person is really starting to contribute theyre looking for their next gig. We want employees, long term employees. The entire engineering team has been here at least 5 years, got a few members past 15. We have no interest in consultants, its not our model. Not that theyre bad, they just wont work here.
My guess is that you've never tried. Either that or all you want is good little mind numbed robots who won't object to watching sexual harassment videos once a month. Real consultants never abandon their customers after one year, or ten.
Nobody here is a mind numbed robot, we don’t watch harassment videos ever. And I never said anything about abandonment. Consultants are around less than employees, even if they’re still around there’s always some other gig. This is life cycle software we’re working on, when we finish one version we start on the next. When I got here we were halfway through 8.5, now we’re halfway through 10.5 in between we’ve done 5 release versions and a bunch of feature packs and a bunch more service packs. The day after we have the ship party for 10.5 we’ll start in on the first service pack to fix those last minute bugs, meanwhile management will be finishing plans for the next release, then we get trucking. It’s not a consultant environment, it’s an employee environment. Nothing wrong with consultants, but each tool has its purpose, they’re phillips heads and we’re a slot head environment. Consultants are great for projects that have end dates that slide into maintenance mode. We don’t have end dates. We have label change dates, new code name, new release version, same damn product.
Bugs? Maybe you should change your approach?
All software has bugs. That’s the reality of the business. Especially if you’re living on Windows. There’s a million lines of code, and it interacts with over a dozen pieces of software we don’t control. Hell yeah there’s bugs. It also hauls in 90 million dollars a year and has a renewal rate of over 75%. Our approach is fine.
Speak for yourself. And we'll all be glad you don't write stuff for airplanes or missiles.
Being proud of shipping stuff with bugs because it generates revenue isn't something I'd crow about.
I do mostly embedded stuff. But I did write a Windows program (Mazemaker) which Brian Livingston included in one of his Windows Secrets books. So far as I am aware, no one ever encountered a bug once I released the program.
Hey there’s a reason I didn’t go to work on software that moves metal or runs medicine. But I have friends that do, and you know what? Their software has bugs too.
I’m a realist. Nothing that has a million parts is without flaws. Even before software got put on them every plane in the air has issues. I know folks that worked on flight lines, both mechanics and pilots, part of check out on a plane is the mechanic giving the pilot the list of stuff that’s broken on the plane. It’s the nature of the world.
The question isn’t does your software have bugs, the question is how likely are they to be encountered and what happens when they are. There’s a secret combination of button clicks I can do to our client app that will crash it hard enough you need to uninstall it. It’s been in there for 6 years, nobody out in the field has ever run into it as far as we know. Largely because that secret combination involves over 100 different steps, including multiple openings and closings of the app. A bug for sure, but nobody is gonna hit it.
Less than 1% of our tech support calls result in bugs being written. When we got bought the company that bought us wouldn’t believe that. They considered 20% to be the target. They actually came down and “helped” us rerun the reports. Am I proud of our software? Hell yeah. I’m especially proud of the section I primarily work on which tech support considers a great achievement to get a bug against. But I’m not stupid. I know bugs get through, I just try to make sure those bugs are outside the normal usage so the customers don’t hit them. We aren’t moving metal, we aren’t giving medicine, we don’t need to be bullet proof. And our software is a hell of a lot more complex than any embedded system, which has bugs I can absolutely guarantee.
And you just left it there?
Oooooh. A hundred steps? Like that's a lot for a computer? You would have been a hoot on antenna tracking system I did for geosynchronous satellites (which aren't truly geosynchronous which is why they need to be tracked). Who could test the thing for a hundred days? And how many of those days would be subject to rain fades? Guess what? You simulate the inputs to a system like that so you can stress the piss out of it until it fails. It will either fail (or degrade) in reasonable ways or surprising ways. If you don't get rid of all of the surprises you're not being fair to your customer.
It’s been there for 6 years and nobody has run into it. Reproducing it takes half an hour by hand, 10 minutes with an automation script. 100 steps is a lot, because to get the bug you have to do those steps in that order, do one thing different no crash. In the time it would have taken to find and solve that bug we instead found and solved probably 100 other bugs, bugs the customer was actually likely to run into, as opposed to an obscure series of actions that a user will never do.
Again there’s the difference between moving metal and not. This is communication software. Even if a customer did run into that bug (which again, 6 years and thousands of customers with 10s of thousands of users using the thick client have not) nobody is gonna die. You’re failing to grasp the difference between large customer base wide open usage software and limited user base limited input life of embedded systems. The day you make a package that integrates with every piece of non-game software MS makes AND Lotus Note, AND 4 different brands of MFP AND two of Sharepoint’s competitors in document management AND do make a new release for the thing every year AND have no bugs you have room to talk. Until then you’re just blowing smoke and telling lies.
Put your money where your mouth is Pal. I can provide multiple witnesses for whatever I've said here. (And not just here either. Anywhere.)
Go ahead, You get by with your sloppy work. I never said you were the only one. But that approach doesn't cut it with me.
That's an old SEO trick from about 2000. Doesn't work anymore. Google doesn't like search engine spammers.
I believe fully in what you said. I also understand the difference between making embedded systems where there’s a good chance your code will never interact with a human and application software. Embedded system guys are always so cocky because they work in a nice safe area, I’d love to see how your code works out here in the real world. Out here in application land 99% of your code is error handling because 99% of the input you get from the user is flawed. This is where the bugs live. Life is easy when you get all your input from a radar dish, try getting your input from people that can’t even type their own names.
There’s nothing sloppy in my work at all. Funny how important it is to you that everybody else is wrong. How you keep throwing insults. Just another embedded system guy thinking his #$%^ don’t stink. I’ll pay attention to your “approach” when you’re out in the application layer where things get hard. That’s where your big lies are, thinking that where you write code has any relationship to my world. You’re swimming in the wading pool. I’m out here in the ocean with bad use input and complex environments. It’s a whole different world when you have to assume your code is being used wrong.
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