If It’s Worth Doing… Considering Resume Scanners, HR Generalists and the Contemporary Job Market

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As an Executive Search Consultant, I spend a lot of time searching through multiple resumes for that one individual who best matches the position. Most professionals are highly skilled at their jobs, but explaining to interested parties, exactly how they do what they do, becomes their biggest handicap. Would you buy an expensive new automobile if the entire body of the car was covered in a half inch of mud? If the salesperson won’t show you what is under the mud, you will head on to the next dealership, as fast as your legs will carry you. That is the same thing that HR does when a resume arrives in their email. They will first take a glance to see if you are better than another resume. The other resume arrived at about the same time. If the CV is not up to standards, the HR professional will toss it in the trash, and go on to the next candidate.

There was a time where nice paper and a short description of your duties from each job was sufficient for getting your qualifications in front of the right people that were hiring. Many things have changed. Your next job may well be decided by a computer, which determines how well you wrote your resume and how easy it was to find it in an automated search. Every word matters, every piece of software you know and every kind of equipment you have used should be listed on the resume.

If HR is looking for a ditch digger, shovel should be on the resume even if most of the time you are driving a back hoe. HR knows a hole needs to be dug, and most don’t understand the equipment, but they will know they use a shovel when they dig a hole at home.

Old Billy Bob, (IQ < 100) only knows how to use a shovel; he’s been using it for 20 years… Billy comes up in the search where you didn’t. In fact, he is the only person that has ever handled a shovel in the whole database of possible candidates. Billy is going to get your job, unless you are more careful.

Take the time to write a list of everything you do in your current job. If the search string is for electric, it will find electrical. If you search for electrical, it won’t find electric, so use wording that will be seen in the most applicable searches possible. At the same time, correct sentence structure, punctuation, spelling and grammar are critical. Take the time to write the vita correctly. Tailor each resume towards the job description that you should have read carefully. It could make a $20to $50K difference in your next salary. It’s worth the extra time, care and patience.

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