You’re Not Crazy – No One’s Reading Your Resume

May 21 2012 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Resumes by Phil Rosenberg

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Employers only read a small fraction of all resumes sent.

You’re used to the expectation that if you’re qualified for the job, your resume will be read. You’re used to the idea that the most qualified candidate will get the job.

Both of these ideas are casualties of employment automation.

Just because you’re well qualified for a job, doesn’t mean a human will ever see your resume – because almost all employers have automated or partially automated their hiring processes.

Employment automation, through software called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), drastically changed how employers choose who to interview, who gets hired, and who’s resume is seen by humans.

HR departments have become unable to read every resume, because of the following changes:

  • Mass Competition: With an average 1,000 applicants for each advertised job
  • HR productivity process improvement: HR departments have been cut to increase productivity
  • It’s easy … too easy: It’s become so easy to apply for a job – there’s no time investment to discourage unqualified applicants from applying
  • Federal labor regulations: Compliance with Federal labor regulations forced employers to automate their hiring processes

The above changes changed the entire paradigm of which resumes are read vs which resumes remain buried.

These changes caused nearly all companies to drastically change hiring processes – forming the basics of nearly all organizations’ current hiring processes. Today, the most qualified candidates typically end up buried in the database, while the candidates who best understand the hiring process get read and get interviews.

Here’s what the process looks like at most companies:

  1. 1,000 competitors: Today, employers attract an average 1,000 candidates for each advertized position.
  2. List of top 50: While you and I search google using 1 or 2 criteria, employers don’t want a list of thousands of candidates – they want about 50 candidates that meet all of their criteria.
  3. 7-10 criteria: To get a list of candidates that meet all criteria, HR reps and recruiters have been taught to search for 7-10 criteria, returning a much smaller but more carefully selected list.
  4. A dozen interviews: HR reps and recruiters typically try to get the hiring manager about a day’s worth of interviews – or about a dozen.
  5. Searching the list: HR Reps and recruiters start at the top of the list, reading resumes visually, to select resumes that also look like they meet hiring manager criteria from a human review.
  6. 15 seconds: HR reps and recruiters spend an average 15 seconds to decide whether a resume deserves an interview or not. That’s it – 15 seconds.
  7. 2 – 3%: If the HR rep or recruiter has done a decent job in selecting criteria, they’ll find a dozen candidates that look like they meet hiring manager criteria in the first 20-30 resumes reviewed. That’s only 2-3% of the average 1,000 applicants.
  8. What do they do next?

    … they stop.

At that point, the HR rep or recruiter has done their job – selecting a dozen candidates who meet minimum qualifications for an interview. They move on to selecting candidates for the next job being hired by the company.

HR reps and recruiters jobs aren’t to find the best candidates – it’s to find a dozen candidates who meet minimum qualifications as quickly as possible.

This process is incredibly efficient – but it also leaves the best candidates buried in the database, never seeing the light of day.

The candidates who have the best chance of having their resumes seen and gaining interviews are the candidates who best understand the hiring process I’ve outlined above.

… and then integrate that process into their own job search strategy.

So what do you think will bring your job search the most success?

… having the best understanding of the hiring process?


… being the most qualified candidate?


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

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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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