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Get Your Resume Noticed. The Right Way.

When standing out is a bad thing. (Image by Martin Kingsley via Flicrk, CC3.0)

When standing out is a bad thing. (Image by Martin Kingsley via Flickr, CC3.0)

At TheLadders we have a name for the “sent resume got no response” dilemma. We call it the resume black hole: When a job seeker sends his resume to job listings and recruiters … and never hears back. Ever. It tops the list of frustrations for most job seekers.

Why does this happen? And how can you avoid getting sucked into the resume black hole?

Consider what these companies are up against, says New York Times reporter Phyllis Korkki.

“The Internet has made it absurdly easy to apply for jobs. This means that unqualified people are clogging the system with their wing-and-a-prayer applications,” Korkki writes in her article “Where, Oh Where, Has My Application Gone?”

While there’s no way to guarantee a recruiter will get back to you, there are some steps you can take to make sure your resume gets noticed.

Make a Name for Yourself

We’ve heard over and over again how important it is to network, both in person and online. TheLadders columnist Louise Fletcher reminds job seekers to work on a web presence as well as “join a few select message boards related to your profession,” for better networking.

Use the Right Words

Maybe it’s not the recruiter that isn’t getting back to you. If your resume doesn’t have the right keywords it may never get past the ATS (applicant tracking system) and onto the recruiter’s desk.

An ATS can be the job seeker’s worst nightmare if your resume is not full of targeted keywords, according to Lisa Vaas, in her article The 24 Step Modern Resume – where she gives a checklist chock full of get-noticed tips.

Stand Out, Not Outrageous

A recent Career Builder survey of recruiters and hiring managers gives job seekers some valuable insight. You want to stand out, but not too far out.

You certainly want recruiters to take notice of your resume. You don’t want them to email it around the office for kicks though. Here are some strange, albeit entertaining resume faux pas.

  • Candidate put God down as a reference (no phone number).
  • Candidate claimed to be a direct descendant of the Vikings.
  • Candidate’s e-mail address had “LovesBeer” in it.
  • Candidate listed “Master of Time and Universe” under his experience.
  • Candidate’s condition for accepting the position was being allowed to bring his pet monkey to the workplace.
  • Candidate pointed out, “I’ll have your job in five years.”

*For more outlandish job search stories read How Not to Follow Up After a Job Interview.

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4 comments for “Get Your Resume Noticed. The Right Way.”

  1. The tip about making the resume stand out is really on point. I have been listening to radio show based in Los Angeles on KFWB (980 AM) called the Job Seekers Clinic. The Job Doctor comes on every Sunday evening at 8pm (Pacific Standard time) and gives out tips and answers calls from job seekers. The last few weeks, Mike Flanagan, the job doctor, has been talking about making the resume stand out. It should tell a story that captures the attention of the employer. He emphasizes that the resume has to have WIFM — What’s in it for me? (That is from the employer’s perspective).

    If interested, you can listen to the show on their website: Click on “Listen Live.”

    Posted by Alice | September 27, 2010, 8:04 pm
  2. Great follow up Alice. I’ll give it a listen and the reminder to look at it from the other side is great.

    Too often we are overly focused on what we want, when clearly this is about what the Hiring Manager and the Company wants.

    Posted by CRoss | October 1, 2010, 11:36 am
  3. I understand the dilemma of having 300 resume’s hit your inbox. But let me say this…

    HR departments have asked for it. They post their listings on 25+ job sites and provide only one way to submit qualifications.

    The internet.

    “E-mail only. No Calls” the ads say. No contact name. No address to send an awesome self promo piece to. Nothing.

    Aa far as I can tell using the internet to find talent is an easy way to get many, many responses to cherry pick from. ATS doesn’t help either side. It promotes “embellishment” of resumes and it promotes laziness in looking at those resumes.

    Let the system do it for me. I wanted a lot of responses. I got a lot of responses. But I don’t want to do the due diligence in looking at the resumes.

    HR departments planted the crop, now they have to harvest it.

    At the very least, the ATS system should email a response letter so that the job seeker doesn’t sit in limbo with their hopes up.

    This way job searching gives new meaning to “no news is good news”.

    These days “no news is…”

    Posted by Chris Edwards | October 2, 2010, 12:19 am
  4. What Chris said above…so true. I have no idea who is looking at my resume. It could be some clerk just eliminating anyone with less than ten years of experience in that specific area. No one meets me or talks to me, so they don’t really know what I am like.

    It is a fine line between making your resume “stand out” and looking cheesy.

    I have a great resume. I even had a professional headhunter critique it.

    But when there are no jobs out there for me to fit into, it doesn’t matter how great I can write. When someone won’t take a chance to talk to me, and they do the HR thing of “You must have 10 years specifically…” then they take the chance of passing on someone. There is no accountability with them. Just numbers.

    Posted by Debbie P | October 11, 2010, 2:27 pm

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