As a professional resume writer that constantly preaches the importance of a high-quality, optimized and branded resume in your job search, this blog title might catch you off guard.
Is your resume important? Yes, of course. A well crafted resume will open doors, command a higher salary, and help you stand out in a competitive job market.
Inevitably, I get emails from people that are frustrated in their job search. The email generally goes something like this “I have applied for 30+ job postings without one single reply. What is wrong with my resume and why is it not working?”
But it’s not the resume that worries me, even if I was not the one to prepare it. It is the fact that this person has applied for 30+ online job postings. While on the surface, it might seem that the resume is the problem, the truth is that applying to online job postings (even with a perfect resume) is much more likely to get silence than any sort of response.
I refer to the online resume process as a black hole. You are getting zero (or very few) replies because you are applying to a computer instead of a real live person. More than 75% of resumes never make it through the ATS systems to be read by a real, live human. Those are horrible odds.
Yes, my resumes are optimized to give you the best chance possible at getting through. But ATS systems are only as good as the recruiter or hiring manager that types in the keywords. Computers are not smart enough to match non-identical concepts.
For example, I have a client with 7 years of experience as an Academic Adviser to graduate students. She applied for a position and was never contacted – when she reached out and found a real person to connect with, she discovered that her resume was never reviewed because the computer determined that she did not have the “right” experience. Their requirement was set up as “5+ years of academic advising for undergraduates“. She was more than qualified, but the ATS kicked her out because the recruiter did not include graduate along with undergraduate in the filters.
This clearly demonstrates the importance of networking. Yes, that “awful” word that my clients hate to hear. I get that it is easier to passively apply to online postings. But you need to get your resume in front of an actual human – preferably the head of the department where you will be working, not just HR.
Talk to people, make connections. You can do some of this online – LinkedIn is a powerful resource. Join professional groups and make insightful comments. Connect with like-minded professionals and potential mentors. Let these people know who you are, what you are good at, and your unique skill set.
The odds are not with you when you apply online. You must meet and connect with real people. Otherwise, you will be one of the people contacting me and asking what is wrong with your resume.