The Secret of Job Search Efficiency: Best of reCareered

Aug 6 2010 in Featured, Job Search Strategy, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

A few years back, things changed in job search. but no one probably bothered to tell you.

They changed for the better for employers, but worse for most job seekers. Only the fortunate few who learned how to make these changes were able to make these changes work for them – and it gave them an Unfair Advantage. Sad thing is, this is still the state of today’s job markets.

What happened? The job search game started it’s silent change when the majority of resumes started to be delivered digitally. Most job seekers still don’t understand the profound changes that occurred when hiring markets reacted to digital resumes, that affect today’s candidates. Then in 2007, job shortages and mass job competition changed the job market again, amplifying the changes due to digital resumes.

Here’s 6 ways to make these changes work for you …

6 Ways To Increase Your Job Search Efficiency:

Ever have a recruiter ask you to add something to your resume in order to better qualify for a job?

Recruiters knew what was happening, because they saw it from the inside. But it doesn’t benefit recruiters to train candidates to be successful in this new paradigm. The greater dependence candidates have on recruiters, the greater advantage they have in controlling their “inventory” of candidates.

Think about it … why would it benefit a recruiter to make you more able to find a job on your own? Who pays them for giving you their knowledge of the job market? Besides, recruiters work for the hiring manager, not for you as a career coach.

When resumes went digital, they had a major effect on employers – employers were flooded. In a growing wave in the late 1990’s and into 2000, employers started getting crushed as 10 times the number of resumes had to be processed for each job advertised. Worse yet, many of these additional resumes were from under or mis-qualified applicants who found it easy to just press send.

So how did employers react? They became incredibly efficient in finding applicants who met the minimum requirements.

One positive aspect of digital resumes is that they are searchable. Another positive is they can be digitally filed in a database (called an Applicant Tracking System, or ATS). As employers experimented with resume databases, they found they could micro-target skill sets by doing keyword searches … just like a Google search. Employers now had thousands of applicants to choose from and could search for 10, 15, maybe 20 criteria and find 20-30 applicants with those words on their resume … just by dumb luck and sheer volume.

And what happened to the job seekers who didn’t include those words on their resume? Their resumes stayed in the black hole, never to be seen by human eyes.

Ever feel like you were perfect for a job, but didn’t get the call? Now you know why.

When I talk to job seekers who tell me they’ve sent 150 resumes over 6 months, and only generated 3 interviews, I ask if it feels like no one is even looking at their resume – Because with those odds, no one is looking at their resume the majority of the time.

While choosing to interview only based on meeting minimum qualifications is dysfunctional, it’s also efficient. Hiring managers figure that if they can have HR pull 20-30 resumes (out of a pool of hundreds, or even thousands) and visually screen out ½ of them, the remaining 10-15 resumes should produce a good employee.

While this is an efficient process for employers, is it also efficient for applicants? It can be – However, most candidates haven’t changed their methods to react to changed employer methods.

To those applicants who figured out how to game this system, it’s incredibly efficient, and can get savvy job seekers interviews from 15-25% of the resumes they send.

How can you be efficient as a candidate? Here’s 6 ways:

  1. Be specific in your resume, not a generalist: HR databases punish generalists, because they search for specific terms. Even managers need to stay away from describing general and leadership skills to be successful in the new paradigm (see
  2. Throw out cover letters: If the employer demands it, use a standard 3 line transmittal cover letter, stating the job title and that the resume is attached. Cover letters aren’t included in the search … employers strip them and don’t include cover letters in their database. Research I’ve published shows that 97% of hiring managers ignore cover letters, and 66% don’t even get them. It’s easy to customize your resume, so employers expect it and HR databases reward it. So why would you spend any time on a cover letter when you could be customizing your resume (see
  3. Heavily customize each resume you send: Employers reward resume customization. I don’t mean just add a word or two – Write your resume specifically to show how your subject matter expertise solves the target company’s or hiring manager’s problems, and helps the target company/manager meet goals (see
  4. Use the target company’s own language: Don’t think that just because you’ve described your experience that it’s a match. The actual words need to match what the employers description to count in your favor. Cut and paste the employer’s language from the job description to use in your resume. This is counter intuitive – we were all taught not to copy, to put things into our own words, remember? Consider it to be a situation where copying is rewarded (see
  5. Make it perfect: Reviewers have a zero tolerance policy for resumes, because there are thousands of other applicants. Spelling and grammar count. Formatting, fonts, and lined up tabs and columns count.
  6. There are only two times in your life when you are perfect….when you are born, and on your resume The hiring manager expects and rewards a perfect resume, and throws out imperfection. Have 2-3 friends proofread. Have it read on screen, and have it read on paper.

Sounds like a lot of work? Sure, but you won’t have to waste your time sending so many resumes. These strategies drastically increase the efficiency and response rate of your resume, because you’ll focus your resume on what’s important to the hiring manager, the employers, using the actual language of the company to explain your awesome experience.

Besides, you won’t have time to send so many resumes … you’ll be too busy interviewing.


Want to do more than just complain about a bad economy?

To attend our next complimentary live webinar featuring action items to double your resume response rate and number of interviews, plus live career Q&A with Phil Rosenberg of reCareered, register at .

Available Now On Amazon: Job Search Secrets - Rethink Your Job Search Now, By Phil Rosenberg

Phil shows you why your current job search strategies work against you and how to replace them with strategies that improve your odds. Phil provides you with research - cold, hard statistics provided by job boards and hiring managers themselves, to show you what works for you and against you in the worst job market in our lifetimes.

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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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