Regardless of what Human Resource professionals tell their superiors, they can’t and don’t read and truly consider all of them. Work Is Good ® has a unique insight into what Human Resource professionals actually do in responding to applications through ads, internet, help-wanted signs and social media. We will give you an idea of what happens behind the scenes, then offer advice on how to deal with it:
Most resumes are not read as they arrive (instantly). Most HR folks have been trained to carve out “Resume Time” during the day (or week), unless the position opening has some urgency.
If the response to a job listing produces about 40 documents in a week (or day), HR won’t read more than the “Obvious Fits”. “Obvious Fit” means the following: Well laid out format (someone took the time to produce a “classic” document), key words that stand out on the resume (or cover letter) or key company names (competitors) that jump out at the reader.
If the overall response exceeds 30-40 documents, it is highly possible that HR will not read ANY response beyond that number. They simply feel that they don’t have the time or patience. The unread resumes will not be discarded (that may be illegal in some cases), but they will be archived in case there is no acceptable candidate in the “first-look” batch. SOME companies have an auto-response system that will send an email acknowledging receipt of your information, most do not.
Don’t expect a personal response to your information at all. Again, most HR people have substantially more to do than to respond to applications. And, only Great Workplaces have learned that EVERY application is due the courtesy and honesty of a response. To many workplaces and HR professionals, you are NOT important until you join their company. (Great Workplaces are not this way as they have discovered that they need to treat Potential Participants, Participants and the Community with the same respect they give to their most important customers).
So here are some quick tips on how to deal with sending resumes to want ads in the job market today:
Be diligent in your job search. Look EVERYDAY at all potential ads. Use the internet for job search and get hooked into social media. Remember you MAY need to be in the first 30-50 responses to get a look. Pick out 50 companies you want to work for, learn from their websites what they are all about, track (on Google, Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter) their top decision makers and introduce yourself.
Your cover letter needs to be custom-written for each ad. “Dear Employer” (fill in the blanks) letters look like you are lazy and you will miss the opportunity to include KEY words that will get the attention of over-worked HR professionals. Keep your cover letter succinct. Cover letters that are many paragraphs don’t get read. Cover letters that tell a story don’t make an impact (we see this from many corporate outplacement firms that deal with Execs).
Your resume needs to be re-written for most job listings. What you first wrote was for an unknown ad. It was great for what you thought you needed. Read the ad, look up the company (if known) on the internet and think about what the HR person would WANT to see on a resume that could get their attention. Take the time to do that IMMEDIATELY (remember the first 30-40 responses get attention). Change the file name to include the company name, date of response, perhaps the job title so that you can keep track of what resume went to which company. Example: joesmith_abc company_officemgr11.28.09.doc. This will also be read and retained by the company and can help the receiver know what position you applied for and when (not every company has a sophisticated applicant tracking system that does this automatically). How long your file name is depends upon your software. (MS Word is limited to 248 characters. Man that’s a paragraph!). Many people will also add the name of the job board to that filename.
SPELLCHECK everything, and try to find a friend who will edit/ check anything that you are putting out. The receiver of your documents may not be a better speller than you, but mistakes are easy to pick out. Your mistake can mean the difference between being first-look and no-look.
Follow up. Not too often, not too soon. Give the employer 3-5 days minimum for your follow up. In many cases they will not have read your response yet, but a well-planned email can support your first documents. The first email should be supportive, not an inquiry as to when they will respond: “Dear (name if you know it, use “Hiring Authority at ABC Company” if you do not); I know that you are busy with other duties and I hope this will not be construed as being pushy. I simply want to convey that I have excellent and appropriate experience in”…: 3 top key words relative to what the company is seeking. You may also include a quote from a reference about your skills (if they relate well to the position).
NEVER use your “cute” email address, your current company’s email server (address). Get an AOL, Hotmail, Apple, ISP or Google email account. Again…you may like HYPERLINK “mailto:email@example.com” firstname.lastname@example.org but potential employers DO NOT. Period.
Second follow up: 2-3 weeks. Same as the first (not a carbon-copy) where perhaps you can write about your ability to make something specific happen within the company. Stress your ability to go beyond being a TEAM player, into being a very solid collaborator.
Last (for now) manage your day LOOKING for a position, like you were employed.