7 Strategies for Overcoming the Resume Black Hole

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We hear from job seekers every day who are sending out hundreds of resumes and job applications never to be heard from again. It’s hard to tell if it’s the resume that’s at fault or the company that’s not hiring, already hired, or just sitting in a stack of 500 others never to be found. So I’ve compiled a list of seven ways to overcome the resume black hole that so many resumes seem to go in to. MANAGE YOUR JOB SEARCH DON’T LET IT MANAGE YOU There are great tools and resources out there to track the applications you submit, responses you receive and more. For example jibberjobber.com is an excellent tool to keep your job search organized and it beats using an old fashioned spreadsheet. When you’re tracking who you’re applying to, what positions and more it gives you the big picture so you’re not guessing how many applications you’ve sent in you know. It also tells you who is responding and what the next steps are. APPLY FOR POSITIONS THAT ARE MOST SUITED TO YOUR EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS In a normal job market I’d say go for it, apply to whatever you want for whatever reason you want. In fact, when I first graduated college I applied for positions that I wasn’t qualified for and knew it hoping they’d take a chance on me and train me. Well I didn’t get the exact position I applied to but I got a call from the company saying they had another position that I was perfectly qualified for would I come in and interview. Of course I did and that’s how my career in human resources and recruiting started. In this economy, it’s tough to advise you to apply for something you’re underqualified for when there are hundreds of other qualified candidates. The chance you’d hear back is so slim that you’re asking to have your resume disappear in a deluge of others and never be heard from again. Conversely, applying for positions you are overqualified for will get you about the same results. And I will tell you the God honest truth about it. Hiring managers are NERVOUS to hire overqualified people for one reason – they don’t want to risk that if they hire you now when something better comes along you will up and leave. Then they have to start all over training someone new and it costs them money. They’d rather hire someone who meets the requirements versus grossly exceeds them. It’s a safer bet right now and unfortunate for unemployed job seekers it’s an employer’s market they can be as picky as they want. REACH OUT AND MAKE CONTACT If you’ve spoken personally to a contact at the company send your resume to them. If you know someone at the company send it to them. An association with someone either over the phone or in person means you will be remembered you won’t be just a faceless piece of paper in a stack. USE YOUR TIME WISELY All the time you’re going to be saving from not applying for positions you are under- or overqualified for can be better redirected into optimizing your resume. Use the job descriptions of the positions you are applying to as a guide for what keywords to include in your resume and cover letter. You can usually tell which ones the company wants the most because these fall under position REQUIREMENTS. These should be in the TOP third of your resume, what I would call above the fold. It’s important the employer sees this in their initial 5 second review. This will gain you additional time from the employer to review the rest of the resume. Make sure to include the PREFERRED qualifications as well this makes you an even more desirable client. If you’re showing them in your resume you meet all their required and preferred qualifications why wouldn’t they call you? That would make you the ideal candidate. Then their search is over and you have the interview. IT IS NOT ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT Just as the housing market has moved from a seller to a buyers market so has the job market. It’s a buyers market they have choices and they can take as much time as they want and be as picky as they want. I assure you hiring managers are the same way. It’s an employers market and they can take the time they want and need to make the right choice. So don’t waste your time sending out resumes and cover letters that tell the employer a laundry list of what you want and need in a job. It won’t get you very far. Instead be specific about what you can offer the employer that aligns with their needs. This goes back to the required and preferred qualifications. So back away from the objective… better yet erase it from your resume altogether and replace it with a powerful personal branding statement. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE LOOKS Let me tell you exactly what your resume format is saying to the employer – it’s either saying organized, professional, well put together, and detail-oriented or it’s saying “help, I’m a mess!”. If you were a hiring manager would you rather hire someone that was professional and well put together or someone who was a mess? Point blank – your format speaks VOLUMES about you and if you want to get their attention it better make the right first impression otherwise it doesn’t matter how qualified you are you’ll never hear back from them. BE YOUR OWN BEST SALESPERSON Statistics prove again and again that accomplishment-based resumes are far more effective than ones that just list your job responsibilities. My take is this – responsibilities are for job descriptions and resumes are for selling yourself through previous wins! I hear job seekers say all the time I don’t have any accomplishments or my job wasn’t numbers based. Let me be direct – if you had no accomplishments at your past positions you would have been fired from all of them. If you haven’t been fired from every job you have ever had then you must have been doing something right! What was that something right you were doing? Put that on your resume! This list is certainly not all inclusive but it is a running start towards ensuring your resume stops disappearing into the job application black hole that so many seem to fall into these days. Our clients are finding tremendous success with these strategies and others. We heard from one client this week who was called for an interview the first day she posted her new resume… and another client who is in the final stages of interviewing with a fortune 500 IT company within two weeks of using her new resume and cover letter. We’re so happy for their success and want you to know it can be your success too!

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  • J. Staicos
    J. Staicos
    Good ideas, but some actual EXAMPLES of effective and not so effective statements for your cover letter and your resume would help even more.
  • Doable Finance
    Doable Finance
    Very good article and nicely written.
  • Dulan
    A GOOD PIECE OF ADVICE. I encourage a few more of those strategies and tips to be shared among the unemployed
  • Bill
    Great article...especially the section on key words.
  • Laura P.
    Laura P.
    Explain to me please the meaning of "format."  Is this with lines between or does that mean use bullets, I don't know what to do.
  • Ricky S.
    Ricky S.
    Thank you! Very informative!
  • WendySue H.
    WendySue H.
    Excellent. Very informative.
  • Mariya C.
    Mariya C.
    Once again I would like to thank you for encouraging me to get involved in a job search, and also for advising me for career change. I already did the Lab tech program at Robetech in 2008. If you find any position related to that I would appriciate it.
  • Dan
    Good article. I knew some of it, and needed some reinforcement. Some good action items too.
  • Denny Q.
    Denny Q.
    It's good business etiquette to reply to applications that have been forwarded to your organization, especially emails. Some organizations do not even send a note acknowledging receipt. This then causes the applicant to wonder whether the application got to its destination or it got lost altogether. So corporates, please respond to all applicants, especially email, because there is no other way I'll know about the fate of my application.
  • Laurie R.
    Laurie R.
    While working at a Utility Company in the legal Department, I was making three times what I was making as a sales associate at a major department store. I really am desperate for a job and am very unsure as how to answer what my salary demands are. What is your suggestion as to answer this problem?  I am willing and desperate enough to take anything right now.
  • Mable L.
    Mable L.
    Great information. I'm in the process of changing careers due to this lovely economy and I haven't done a resume in years. It's gets so confusing with so much information out there. I really like and appreciate these 7 steps. It gives me some solid ground to get started on.  Thanks again.
  • Susan B.
    Susan B.
    I send my resume almost every year and until now I never heard any feed back. I hope you don't mind me asking if I am qualified or if an employer likes my resume. I have a  certificate in culinary, have done an internship in Shangri-La Makati Philippines and was part of the Guinness Book of World Records last Dec.14,2009 -Eden Kraft-. I participated in a competition at Food Hotel Asia in Singapore last April 20-23,2010...I hope I can find employer...thanks
  • Margaret B.
    Margaret B.
    It seems as if everyday there is some new article about how the job seeker is doing everything wrong and it is never the employer who is to blame.  They know they are in the driver's seat, and they couldn't care less about you. It is all about them, and about beating the Street by a penny on the stock prices, and seeing how many more jobs can be outsourced to some other country or filled by an illegal.  THAT is the bottom line, so job seekers, don't let these smug 'freelance writers' get to you!
  • Mohammad t.
    Mohammad t.
    all good...
  • Sonja S.
    Sonja S.
    I was with my former employer for over 20 years working in the human resource department before being laid off. I had a lot of responsibilities, but I have no idea the amount of money I saved them. So I am lost when writing my resume because it looks like a long list of responsibilities instead of accomplishments. Not sure what to do at this point.
  • Judi A.
    Judi A.
    This was really helpful.  A good follow up subject would be "How to follow up on jobs you have applied for on-line when they supply no company contact information."  This is part of the whole "Resume Black Hole" problem.
  • Emma R.
    Emma R.
    I very much appreciate your 7 Strategies for Overcoming the Resume Black Hole. I am victim of this "overqualified" label. I have sent hundreds of resume. I want to have my resume better written by an expert but unfortunately, I do not have money to pay them. I wish they could do it first and be paid later after I get a job.I really need asap help since I am financially handicapped. Thank you for your positive reply!
  • Cynthia D.
    Cynthia D.
    Does the "Filter System" you mentioned only choose resume's with a degree attached?
  • Sakira L.
    Sakira L.
    Great article! Very informative. I hate writing my resume. Your article helped me to look at the writing process differently, in a good way.
    real concrete and great article to guide in jobs search
  • LaVerne G.
    LaVerne G.
    Excellent advise.  I review resumes on a regular basis as part of my business.  I will be using this article with my clients.  Thanks !
  • Leon G.
    Leon G.
    Very helpful article and easily explained. I would also suggest to use your friends and relatives to help you to build up a strong cover letter or resume. You will always find people there who can help you to better organize or format your work or provide you with honest feedback.
  • Donna K.
    Donna K.
    This advice is all well and good, but what "accomplishments" does someone like me use.  A 30 year stay at home mother, recently widowed, brand new B.A. in Management... NO experience except PT employment during University and College at a convenience store?
  • Annette J.
    Annette J.
    Thank you so much for this insight. I use keywords for each resume/position. Perhaps I need to make my resume more accomplished-based. Do you have any accomplished-based statements for bank teller or telephone banker? Thanks again!

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