Applying for a Job in a Crowded World
By Admin

September 13, 2010

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I am the manager of a large, vibrant Staffing Service (“Employment Agency”). We have a lot of jobs and therefore a lot of “applications” for those positions we advertise. We use at least 5 major Internet sources seeking qualified candidates. This means that on any given day we can receive 100 to 700 resumes, applications, inquiries that range from full applications with resume, cover letter and internet application to “Call me I’m your man” type responses. Some are truly enlightening, some are exasperating.

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As a “screener” of resumes, (more than the typical HR person will receive)  I have some observations for job applicants that may help with getting your resume read (we do not use a “key word screener”, or any other software device to do our evaluations. We do this the old fashioned way: we read responses):

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Apply for positions that you are qualified for, not just to apply. People in my position will remember your name and if you are applying for positions you are NOT qualified for, we will in fact discount any subsequent applications as a nuisance. Think first.

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You may think that writing a ton of stuff about your experience will help sell you. It will not. If the HR person has to read YOUR 17 paragraphs 400 times over in search of people to interview, chances are they won’t have the patience. Take your experiences and distill them into succinct statements of accomplishments and functions. We will read 100 actions words, but not 500 “filler” words. “Action words”: these describe results, accomplishments, and things that involve productivity. Know that we are visually scanning your documents for words and phrases that are similar to or identical to the description we have written or been given that will relate toa profile to be hired or the actual job description/ description of accomplishments we expect. If we don’t see those words or phrases, we “tune out”. If we see too many “platitudes” (look it up) we hit the “delete” key.

We are looking to see if you can distinguish yourself, so we don’t have to.

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Most HR folks won’t read 10 sentences about your “career desires”. After all, we are trying to find people to satisfy our needs. Your career desires about finding “A stable environment where I can be promoted and enjoy a long career with great benefits” … is all about you and your satisfaction. Not what they typical company looks for in a candidate at first brush.

For an Internet Application, we are looking for brevity, not a life history. Save that for the interview, save if for a supporting document. If we have to read through a 4 page internet application, a cover letter, a 2-page resume …guess what? We won’t. Why? Not only are we pressed for time, but the best people today are ones who can be brief, succinct and to the point about getting our interest and doing a job. Talk (words) is cheap, and normally it is trying to cover for some deficit.

So: To be brief (even though I have repeated myself): Keep words to a minimum and use real action words/ results words that will get attention. Apply to jobs you can do, not just to apply. Don’t talk about your desires (want a “stable career”). Hiring authorities are not (at this stage) in the business of attempting to achieve your dreams, they need to achieve theirs.

Other thoughts of importance:

We have a built-in “spell check” in our brains. If you don’t use yours and we catch the typo, we hit “delete” quickly.

Action Words:


I will publish more specific articles on this topic: applying for a job, and getting noticed.