How Many Applicants Get Interviewed? Will You?

You have become one of the applicants for the job you think you want next.You sweat over your resume, spend hours finding jobs on the job boards, spend even more time applying and attaching your resumes and get that email that says “thanks, we will contact you if we have a job for you” and then you wait. And wait.  And wait.

What is going on behind the closed doors?

Where most applicants' resumes go

First your resume and application are screened by the ATS– applicant tracking system – the one that asked you so many questions that seemingly had nothing to do with the position, into the file for that position, if and only if your resume contains the right title and keywords that were set up for the job.

Then it sits there and waits for the HR clerk or recruiter or perhaps, if you are very lucky, the hiring manager to run a search for the responses to the open positions. These file searches will also look for people who have applied before for similar roles, so your resume that you sent last year will still be in the system.

Appearing on the screen are only the resumes sent for that job and any that were previously sent that have used the keywords used in the job posting.  The reviewer then reads through the reduced number of files, perhaps even your resume and cover letter and makes a decision – yes, move to the next step or maybe, hold on to to see if there is anyone who is a better match and no, not for this one.  Sometimes even Oh, No!  He applied again for a different position and we never want to see him again.

This may be done once a week for 2-4 weeks as a policy.  Then the yes folder is looked at and sorted again.  The top ones, certainly no more than 10 and maybe only 5, are sent to the hiring manager to review. This can take a week or more.  Of these, perhaps three will move on to a phone screen and, if the phone screen goes well, a face to face interview.

Most job posting receive 99 “not a fit” resumes for every 1 that fits.  So if you don’t get the call, you have been screened out at one of at least 3 steps.

What can you do?  First, don’t apply for jobs that really are not a fit for your skills and experience – if you apply to the same company too many times, even if the next time really does fit you, you may already have been labeled an “Oh, NO!”.

Secondly, use the keywords and phrases in the position description liberally.  Even if there are six ways to say something, use the way it is phrased in the position description – computers are stupid and HR clerks may not really know what it is that you do.

Third, recruiters call this method “Post and Pray”.  There are many, many other ways to get hired.  Learn some of those skills at our upcoming Open Office Hours.






updated 3/29/17


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