Recruitment is broken. Trust me, I get it.
You send a resume and you feel that it goes straight into a black hole. Is there even someone reading them, or is there some dumb artificial "intelligence" that will simply match a few keywords and throw out perfectly valid candidates?
Yup, these shenanigans are sure going on. But, then, these employers complain that they cannot find good recruits. Well, sure: these systems seem perfect to ensure they never find anyone.
But truth be told, not all organizations out there are resorting to these failed systems. Many people read resumes every day the good old-fashioned way, using the sensors Mother Nature intended us to use: a pair of eyeballs.
That should be a fun process. It is anything but. Because some candidates seem to be hell-bent on ensuring they cause your eyes to bleed.
Here are a few ways they use to do it.
Write Your Resume And Cover Letter Like Egyptian Hieroglyphics!textPhoto by Jeremy Zero on Unsplash
Some resumes and cover letters seem to be designed with information security in mind: they are self-ciphering documents.
Sure, some of these texts may be Shakespearian in quality. But they come in small fonts with one block of text. Paragraphs are for chumps, superfluous adjectives abound, and commas with following spaces are a scarce resource.
Wait! Didn't you say you wanted to read about me? So then, what are you complaining about?
Well, perhaps you should put yourself in a recruiter's shoes for a second. They get bombarded with TONS of resumes. Because, you know, sending a resume is arch-easy. Press one button, and voilà.
So, in front of information overload, what do most people do? If they find what they are looking for quickly, they keep on reading. Otherwise, they don't.
Now, imagine this. You show up to a trade show. You are hunting for a solution to a specific problem.
It turns out, on the trade show floor, two companies can answer your need.
Company A has a pretty bland booth with no keywords in sight, only a beautiful logo (which happens to mean nothing to you). So you grab a leaflet while the salesperson is looking somewhere else, and you see a long, drab (but technically correct) description of their solution.
Company B has a smaller logo, sure, but keywords posted on the walls. So you know at a glance what they are about. And their leaflets have bullet points with a crisp, concise message.
Question: who is more likely to get your business?
In fact, it is quite possible you will not even find your way to Company A.
Your resume and cover letter are just like the walls of a booth and leaflets. They are speaking volumes in the absence of the salesperson—that would be YOU.
The Aspirin-Grade Resume: It Will (Not) Fix Any Ailment An Employer May Have
People are complex beings. It is IMPOSSIBLE for a document, even the snazziest of resumes, to capture the entirety of their essence.
Now, employers understand this. That is why they don't recruit without interviews.
But again, in our day of age when anyone can fire a resume at a click of a button, for free, they usually get too many resumes.
So, they pick and choose. They cannot interview everyone. The folks doing the interviews often have other duties; interviewing is something they do on the side. They simply don't have the bandwidth to interview everyone!
How do they pick? Well, predictably enough, based on their needs. They peruse resumes in search of a few requirements. And if they find evidence that the person may fit the bill, they choose to invite him or her to an interview.
Now, we all know this is anything but a scientific process. And truth be told, some recruiting managers are doing a bad job. They choose people strictly based on experience instead of potential (just watch my video above).
But then, some candidates don't help their cause by sending a generic resume.
Wait! Customizing a resume? Isn't that a time-consuming process?
It can be. But there are tricks around it. You don't need to customize 100% of your resume. Have an intro section listing keywords, and ensure these match the requirements of the job.
Of course, there must be some evidence you can genuinely claim these skills. Don't outright lie. But do put forward some arguments in favor of your candidacy.
Or don't. And let other candidates win. It's up to you.
Adopt A Call Center Approach To Resumes (i.e. It's A Numbers Game!)
Finding a job by yelling to the marketPhoto by Icons8 Team on Unsplash
While looking for a new occupation, you need to decide what type of individual you are. Are you looking for "just a job"—any will do—or are you trying to build a career?
If any job will do, then I guess the call center strategy of resume and cover letter manufacturing will do. You know what I am talking about: these folks calling us on the phone reading a script as FAST as they can in the hopes of closing a sale, not caring one bit about actually solving a problem we may have.
In their world, sales is a number's game. So is your job search. You will be successful by MASSIVELY inundating recruiters with bland, off-the-shelf resumes and cover letters that are generic enough they don't mean much to employers.
Better yet, don't even bother writing a cover letter—hey, it is all about "efficiency," right?
I guess this is great for certain types of positions. Just not the ones I want or recruit for.
The other way is to understand that resumes and cover letters are what marketers call sales collaterals, such as websites, leaflets, and slides. They either help salespeople during the sales process and, in some cases (like websites), they are your virtual sales force, attracting prospects into a high-grade sales funnel.
That strategy is more deliberate, and as a result, it requires more time.
But it is the only way I know of to get career opportunities, not "just a job."