People often wonder why they never hear anything back after they hit ‘send’ on the email with a resume attached or on the on-line job application. If you’re very lucky, you might have a preliminary email exchange with a recruiter and then never hear from them again.
It’s a depressing experience, and one which also casts a shadow on the hiring company’s reputation. So why does it happen? Is it you, is it them, or is it just something every candidate must prepare for in the hiring process?
There’s no question job seekers face an uphill climb. High unemployment nationally means more competition for every position; according to a January 2012 article in the Wall Street Journal, Starbucks “… attracted 7.6 million job applicants over the past 12 months for about 65,000 corporate and retail job openings…”
An oft-cited recruiter’s complaint is that as many as 50 percent of people applying for a given job simply aren’t qualified. Adding to the challenge, most large companies – and many smaller ones – use talent-management software to screen resumes, weeding out up to 50 percent of applicants before a human even looks at a resume or cover letter. The deck is definitely stacked against the job seeker. So how do you break through?
Here are my top 5 reasons you’re not hearing back after applying for a job, with five suggestions for ways to avoid the Resume Black Hole.
Why You Never Hear Back:
- You really aren’t qualified. If a job description specifies a software developer with 3-5 years of experience and you’re a recent graduate with one internship, it’s unlikely you’ll get a call. Avoid disappointment – don’t apply for jobs for which you lack qualifications. Most job descriptions are written with very specific requirements. Yes, the company is trying to find the most qualified candidate; yes, they are trying to weed people out. It’s not personal, it’s business.
- You haven’t keyword-optimized your resume or application. Job descriptions are salted with keywords specific to the skills or attributes the company seeks in applicants. A close read of the job description is a necessity, as is keyword-optimizing your resume and cover letter, if you’re using one, or email. If the job description lists words in a certain order, e.g. a list of programming languages required, use the same order in your resume.
- Your resume isn’t formatted properly. You might think distinctive formatting will set your resume apart, but automated programs don’t care if a document is pretty. Help a machine out. Be consistent in formatting – consider using separate lines for former employer, job title, and years worked.
- Your resume is substantially different from your online profile. LinkedIn, Dice and other online profile sites can be useful tools, so it‘s important to make sure they match what’s on your resume. This may seem to be a contradiction – in #1 I advised keyword optimization – but it’s really common sense. Jobs worked, employers, years on the job and other details should match. The subtext here is always tell the truth.
- The company received 500 resumes for one job posting, and yours was 499th in. Looking for a job is a job. Do your research – know which companies you want to work for, organizations where you sense culture fit. Every morning scour the job postings and jump on anything for which you’re qualified (and in which you’re interested.) Being early with your resume or application does matter. Check back often in the first few days to make sure the listing hasn’t changed. Often a company will post a job and halfway through the process change the description.
It’s hard to game the system. Your best bet is still a personal referral, and even that may not be enough to get a call. A guy I know gave his resume to a woman who worked at a company where a good job had been posted. He received an automated email noting his resume had been received but never heard another word. After a month he asked his friend to check with the recruiter. It turned out the job description had changed, but the recruiter never bothered to let the referring employee – or the applicant – know. This isn’t unusual, unfortunately. So what can you do?
How You Can Get Noticed:
- 1. Research interesting companies on social media. Find out who the recruiters are and follow them. Many will tweet new postings, so watch their streams and jump on anything for which you are qualified. And if they tweet news saying the company’s had a great quarter, retweet the news with a positive comment.
- Consider starting a blog in your area of interest or expertise. It’s a social world; time to build a trail of breadcrumbs leading to you. Include the blog, and links to any especially relevant posts, in your emails to recruiters with whom you’re working.
- Get professional help with your resume. Either a resume writer or an SEO expert can help you increase your odds of getting through the talent management software. If you can’t afford this step, read the top career blogs for advice.
- If at all possible, don’t wait until you’re out of work to find your next job. I realize for many people this isn’t possible or might even be offensive, but your chances of finding the next job are best when you’re still employed.
- Network. Old advice, but still true. Be visible, be upbeat, be informed about industry trends and news in your area of expertise.
Finding a job is tough, no question. I’ve talked to other recruiters who say they only respond to 30 percent of applicants. The odds are good you’ll be in the 60+ percent who hears nothing a lot of the time. Don’t take it personally – it’s not a rejection of you, it’s a reflection of the times. If you don’t hear back, know you’re not alone.
Article reprinted. Author Meghan M. Biro, Glassdoor
Whenever applying for a job (whether advertised or not) always send in 2 copies of your resume. One copy to the Human Resources department (don’t forget about me or I’ll think you’re trying to sidestep me) and more importantly, far more importantly, send one copy of your resume to your future boss.
You can get their name by calling the company and talking to the receptionist. The Receptionist usually knows everything about everybody (including who’s dating who And don’t ask the Receptionist if you can have the Manager’s name (one of the responses to that question is “no”). Just say, “I’m looking for the Manager of the _______ department . . . can you please spell their name for me”.
NOTE: This technique works best when applying to private as opposed to public companies.
YOUR INSIDE LOOK INTO THE HIRING PROCESS:
Ok, first off, it’s very important to understand that we in Human Resources DO NOT make hiring decisions. Rather, we in H.R. make hiring RECOMMENDATIONS. Big Difference! The person who makes the final hiring decision about you, is the person who would be your boss in whatever department or company you are applying to.
Picture me at my desk in H.R. just after placing a job advertisement. The resumes are just flooding in! I received 100’s per week. After meeting with the Manager and determining what qualifications and attributes they were looking for, I would go through the resumes and send them the ones I thought they would like to see. They would then call be back and say something like, “let’s interview Rebecca Doe and John Smith but not Steven McKenzie”. I would say “ok” and call those people in for an interview.
CHECK THIS OUT: Now, on occasion, the Manager would call me up and say, do you have a resume there from Peter Cook? I would then do a mad scramble through the various piles of resumes I had on my desk trying to find it. Once I did, the Manager would then say, “bring them in”.
He’s in! Peter Cook has just landed an interview appointment! My immediate response back to the Manger was always “ok” regardless of the job candidates qualifications. The reason? If I say “no” to the Manager, they’re going to yell at me or at very least I will start an argument. I don’t need that kind of frustration in my day. If the Manager wants to see that person, so be it. So, I used to bring in job candidates far less qualified then who I was looking at, just to keep the Manager happy.
HERE’S YOUR ADVANTAGE: If you only send a resume to me in H.R. you are being compared against 100’s (maybe 1,000’s) of job candidates. But since not many people send a resume to the Manager, you might only be compared against 3 or 4 people . . . a huge advantage!
A TRUE STORY THAT’S INFORMATIVE AND FUN TO READ:
I’ve used this technique myself on a number of occasions. Once I saw an advertisement from a local college for a job to teach marketing to students. I had done a fair bit of marketing in my business and thought it might be fun.
I put 2 resume packages together and sent one to Human Resources and one to the Chair of the Business department (we’ll call her Janet Jones for confidentiality purposes).
I then placed a follow-up call to Ms. Jones (I didn’t bother calling Human Resources . . . they usually tell people not to call them anyway) to see if she had received my resume.
She said she had received my resume but informed me that the job to teach marketing had been filled internally. “We’ll, I thought . . . not much I can do about that.” She then went on to ask me if I had any experience teaching job search. I told her that job search was one of my areas of expertise.
What came next was really good! She then asked me if I was familiar with a book call The High Impact Interview. When I told her that I was, she asked, “oh, have you read it?” To which I responded, “We’ll . . . actually, I wrote it.” Things kind of fell into place from there.
THE POINT IS . . . if I had only sent in one resume to Human Resources and called them about the job teaching marketing, they would have told me, “It’s been filled internally”. Click . . . end of phone call!
JOB SEARCH SECRET #1: Always, always when responding to a job ad or applying directly to a company, send in 2 copies of your resume. One to H.R. and one to the person who would be your boss. You will easily double your chances of landing that important interview!
The following article is reprinted with permission from a blog at American Sentinel University:
In our series of discussions regarding IT Careers, I’ve talked about whether IT is the right career for you, what you can expect working in the field, the diversity of positions available, the IT managerial path, and the career outlook. When talking with students and prospects, I often hear, “There is not enough time now,” or, “I am deploying, etc., so I can’t do it now.”
I thought I would pass along a real-life story that touches on how one GI made the journey while facing many of those same obstacles and who today leads a successful and rewarding career in the field. In fact, he has advanced to the middle management level.
Young man graduates from high school knowing exactly what he wants to do and goes off to college. He does alright, but discovers he doesn’t want to pursue the path he had planned.
After floundering somewhat in school, he decides to enter the Air Force. He’s tested and chosen to go to the Information Technology tech school to become a network tech. Then it’s off to his first assignment.
He really likes what he is doing and dives into learning all he can. In the meantime, he gets married and over the next few years has two children. Interested in getting more training and education in the IT field, he finds that the Air Force only fills part of that need. Plus his base starts rotations to the Middle East.
So here he is, wanting to get a degree, married with two kids, eligible for food stamps, and facing periodic deployments. How can he afford the time and cost for pursuing his degree?
He finds he has several things in his favor. He is highly motivated and has validating experience for the IT career path. He knows promotions and quality-of-life benefits are at stake. He finds that his deployments do allow continued course completion. Military TA funding picks up much of the cost. His spouse supports the temporary commitment of time and money.
He commits to putting in the time and effort required to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science (BSCS). At the same time, he requests more military training and support to help improve his unit’s capability to support the mission, but gets refused.
Coincidentally, he links up with a veteran who has a small business helping local businesses become automated. He starts doing this on the side, applying development knowledge that he learned in his BSCS degree courses.
Then, he takes a network certification course. He really enjoys the fulfillment of the off-duty jobs, however becomes further discouraged with the continued military hold back.
Our GI decides to make the big break and enter the civilian world. Now, with his education, certification, and experience, he gets hired by an investment firm as a junior programmer (his networking skills helped him get that position). After the company changes hands, he finds a new job with a power management company as an application developer. He earns a few advancements and now works in middle management. He is considering getting an MBA in preparation for future advancement to senior management.
I relate this true story because it illustrates what it takes to be successful:
• You don’t always know what career path to pursue. Hopefully these articles will help you with that. Also, if you aren’t happy in your job, you will likely look elsewhere or not be successful in your current position.
• Most people face a number of obstacles in becoming successful. Whether it is time, money, motivation, or luck, with the right attitude and persistence there is usually a way.
• Utilize your military benefits. If you are active-duty make sure you use as much of the TA money made available to you as possible (currently, that’s $4,500 per year). If you are a veteran, use those GI Bill benefits before they run out.
• The IT career field is full of interesting and diverse paths. In this GI’s case, he successfully went from a military networking setting to a small business IT venture to an investment firm finally to an international power management company.
• A degree and certifications are key to providing valid credentials. This GI set himself apart and established worthy credentials to companies that, as he said to me, “didn’t know me from Adam.” His education showed a commitment to standards and achieving hard goals. (I look for this as well now when I am conducting interviews.)
So don’t think you can’t do it because of time, money, work or commitments. You can do it, and there are flexible online programs as well as the benefits and support to help you make it happen.
And ask about your TA, Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30), and even the new Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) benefits while they’re still available. Schools may also offer reduced military tuition rates and military scholarships help extend those benefits, further minimizing your out-of-pocket expenses, so why wait?
About the Author
Lt. Col. Paul Capicik, USAF (ret.) is the military program manager for American Sentinel University. Prior to joining American Sentinel, Paul spent over 26 years in the U.S. Air Force and another 12 years in the private sector as a CIO. For more information on American Sentinel University, online information technology degree programs or IT certification training programs, visit http://www.americansentinel.edu/ or call 1-866-922-5690.
1) It’s a Numbers Game
Have you ever had the thought that December is a bad month for finding a job? If you have, you’re definitely not alone. As a result, fewer people apply for full-time permanent jobs in December. With less competition, your prospects for getting hired can actually increase. Take advantage of this “numbers game” and maintain your job search efforts right through the month of December!
2) Beat The New Year’s Rush
Many companies launch new business strategies in January. In December, they gear up for the big push by making sure they have the right people in place and ready to go. By applying in December, you may be taking advantage of the company’s heightened sense of urgency to hire the people they need.
3) Knock Knock
Company office environments are more relaxed during the Holiday Season. It’s one of the few times when dropping off your resume in person can work to your advantage. Hiring professionals who normally refuse to meet with “drop-ins” because of time issues may be more open to speak with you.
4) Follow-up Calls
After you send out your resume, it’s a good idea to follow-up with a phone call, provided there are no calling restrictions mentioned in the job posting. Although it is often difficult to get in touch with the hiring manager, your best chance may be in late December. The extra administrative workload of many hiring professionals tends to relax around the holiday season, giving them more time to take calls.
5) A Foot In The Door
The Holiday Season is the best time to get your foot in the door with a major retailer by starting out in a customer service position that generally requires little or no experience. Even if you have no interest in customer service, these giant companies have a wide variety of employment opportunities behind the scenes ranging from administration to materials handling and IT. Once you’re hired, you will gain access to a hidden job market. As positions within the company become available, they are posted internally to give employees the first opportunity to apply. By proving yourself to be a reliable, hard worker in customer service you can dramatically increase your chances of acquiring the position you really want.
For help writing your resume, visit Military Resume Wizard.
When you transition out of the military and start looking for a job in civilian life, you will soon realize that you cannot use military terminology when writing your resume. Writing a military resume is a bit different than writing an ordinary resume. This is because of the specific terminology used in military life and the particular skill set, which may or may not have relevance in civilian life.
The format of the military resume is the same as an ordinary resume. You do have to include a cover letter, a 1 – 2 page resume and a list of references. Some employers like to receive the letters of reference with the resume and job application, but the ad for the job will usually state if this is the case. When starting to write your military resume, look back over your military career. If it has been a lengthy one, or if you preformed a variety of jobs, you may want to look at the following documents:
Copies of NCOERs, FirReps, OERs and performance Evaluations
Copies of Training Certificates or Training Records
Copies of any awards or citations you received
The hardest part of military resume writing is trying to translate descriptions of work you did in the military into terminology that the ordinary civilian employer will understand. Avoid musing military acronyms, for example, in your resume. You have to look at the particular position you held and then think of ways that the duties you preformed prepared you for the job for which you are applying. Working with artillery, for example, can still be part of civilian life as there are positions at firing ranges, training civilians to handle firearms properly or even repairing firearms. The resume you would write for one of these positions would be different if you were applying for a civilian position with a company and a civilian position on a military base.
Subheadings on a resume make the various positions stand out. For each position or job you did, use clear and concise terms for the job title and use this as a bolded subheading. Under the subheading, you can provide a bulleted list of the duties you performed and the skills you attained. However, this skill set needs to be relevant to the job you are applying for, so you shouldn’t include any unnecessary information. If you received any awards or citations include these in a separate list.
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Check out these one-page sites for more information on making a successful military transition:
- Get Your Military Resume Noticed – Qualified . . . But Not Getting Any Response From Your Military Resume? Every day military transitioners send out resumes that do not attract the responses …
- Military Transitions Made Simple – Your transition entails more than just replacing your paycheck…learn ways to balance your whole life as a civilian.
- Military Transition to Civilian Life – A professional Military Resume Writer to help with resumes and cover letters. … There are some good online military resume builders to choose from in …
The language of the military served you well in the service; in fact you had to learn it to be able to function within your environment. Now it’s time to adopt the language of your new civilian environment so you’re able to function well there.
Creating your military resume is often the first step in the process of learning your new civilian language. By translating your military skills, you begin to learn a language that your future co-workers will understand. As you progress through your military transition, begin to use your new civilian language in daily communications such as general conversations, correspondence, emails, phone calls, etc.
There are lots of military skills translators online that will translate your job title into a civilian title. Armed with your new civilian job title, you can then search for resume samples in that industry. Use these as a template for creating your own resume.
There are also several online resume wizards that will walk you through the process of creating your resume. You might use one of many good military resume writing books for reference. Or you might opt for hiring a live resume writer. Whichever method you use to build your resume, get started early. The sooner you get started translating your military transition resume, the sooner you can begin WOWing employers with your experience and get called for an interview!
The global credit crisis and flat-lining domestic economy could make this one of the most challenging times to be looking for a job in recent history. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed increased by 2.2 million between September 2007 and September 2008, and the September 2008 unemployment rate hit 6.1 percent — the highest level in five years. In the financial services industry alone, hard-hit by the subprime crisis, more than 111,000 people have lost their jobs through the first nine months of 2008.
To be a successful job seeker in this climate, you have to be calm, patient and proactive — and try any (or all) of these tips.
Pick and Choose Your Targets
When Jack Hinson was laid off in mid-2008 from his job at a large Internet content company in Austin, he prioritized his search. “It’s important to put your time and energy into opportunities that you’re the most interested in and that have the best chance of coming to fruition,” he says. “Pick a few companies you’re interested in and pursue them, whether they have current openings or not.”
Concentrate on Growth Industries
Brent Berger, a Las Vegas-based scenario planning and strategy consultant, suggests focusing on growth industries and areas. “Look at energy,” he says. “With oil costs where they are, the need for cheap fuel and cheap heat is ever-mounting. And any job that alleviates pain is recession-proof. Similarly, the National Guard, Border Patrol, homeland security and the defense industry in general will continue to thrive as the next stage in the war on terror continues.”
Work Your Network
Hinson’s new gig came from an old connection. “I’d spoken to the company’s founders about a year ago and stayed in touch,” he says. “Then I ran into one of them at a networking function.” So flip through your Rolodex or business social media contacts and let them know you’re looking.
San Francisco PR account executive Samantha Rubenstein launched a job search just as the economy began to flag. After three months, she got a great offer from Atomic PR. She attributes her success to doing more than learning about the company. “Preparation includes] learning how to talk about yourself in a meaningful and powerful way,” she says. “I created a list of potential interview questions and typed up bulleted answers to create speaking points.”
Russ Carr, a designer and writer in St. Louis, has twice had a line on a job only to see it slip away when the employer lost a key account or decided to distribute the duties among current employees. To keep some money coming in, Carr started freelancing. “I haven’t stopped trying to shop myself for a full-time gig again, but freelancing certainly has kept food on the table,” he says. “If you’re in a field that supports it, don’t think twice — just do it.”
Take a Temporary Position
If freelancing isn’t practical, try temping. “Consider interim staffing to fill a temporary slot for work that needs to be done despite the economy,” advises Ronald Torch, president and CEO of the Torch Group, a marketing staffing firm in Cleveland. Or temp with a company that interests you. “Many of these options pay well and can carry the burden of bill-paying until a permanent position comes along,” he says.
Sweat the Small Stuff
“Don’t forget the personal touches,” counsels Felicia Miller, assistant director of career services at the Art Institute of Las Vegas. “Don’t use a template cover letter — make sure each letter addresses specific skills or qualities the company is looking for. And always send a thank-you note or email after the interview. Use this correspondence as an opportunity to revisit weak areas of your interview.”
The most important thing when searching for a job in tough economic times is to retain a positive attitude, says Carol Vecchio, founder and executive director of Centerpoint Institute for Life and Career Renewal in Seattle. “Even in a job market with 10 percent unemployment, there’s 90 percent employment,” she says. “There is an average of over 3 million jobs available in the US per month — and each job seeker is looking for one. Those are pretty good odds.”
Struggling to find a great job in a bad economy can be a drag, but undertaking even a few of these tips will improve your chances of landing a gig.
“Remember it doesn’t matter how many jobs are or aren’t out there,” Vecchio says. “You’re just looking for one — the right one for you.”
By Margot Carmichael Lester
Monster Contributing Writer
This article originally appeared on Monster Career Advice: http://content.monster.com.
One very important part of your transition from military service to a civilian career involves creating your military resume. It’s essential for you to translate your military skills and experiences into a language that civilian employers can understand.
Your military transition resume involves many bits and pieces that, when viewed as a whole, outline who you are, what your experience is, and whether or not you’re a good “fit” for the job opening for which you are applying.
The first thing employers see on your military resume is the OBJECTIVE. This is your chance to grab their attention. Fail here and no matter how qualified you might be for the job, your resume will not get read any further. You must pass this first hurdle in the process before you can hope to move on. The Objective is that important (stomp, stomp) get it? So…What is your Objective?
Only you can determine what your real objective is. Before writing your resume, pause and think about the career you’re pursuing. Ask yourself these questions:
* Which career path am I pursuing and why?
* Which job position am I applying for?
* What are my goals in regard to my job search?
Your Objective should align with your answers to the questions above. Have you been told that an Objective isn’t necessary or should be avoided altogether–the purpose of which is to leave you “open” to all available job postings? Don’t believe everything you hear!
You’re first step should be to front load your military transition resume with a specific job title Objective. This is the only way to let an employer know what you want, and not make them guess. For example:
OBJECTIVE: To obtain a position as an IT Manager with XYZ Company which will utilize my considerable IT and management skills.
Writing your Objective in this fashion shows an employer that you are serious about the position. It proves that you have done some homework on the company, and that you appreciate the time associated with the vetting process.
Don’t be afraid to use the EXACT job title in your Objective that’s used by the company advertising the position. You’ll find the exact wording to use from the job board, website, newspaper, etc. where you found the job advertisement.
Said a different way, your military resume Objective should include the job title that you are applying for EXACTLY as the employer wrote it in the advertisement. Do this and you’ll be sure to get the employer’s attention and move your resume to the short list of contenders.
By writing a specific job Objective on your resume, you will:
* Automatically stand out from the crowd
* Show you are serious about your job search
* Communicate that you’re a person who can make a decision
* Increase the odds of having the rest of your resume read
* Get the job you really want
Honestly, you’d be surprised at how many people fail to specify their Objective or fail to provide an Objective at all on their military resume. Now you know better.
Is it time to update your resume with a powerful, specific Objective? Do it today and your resume won’t find its way into the circular file!
Copyright © 2008 Kathy Malone
Professional military transition coach and retired Naval Officer, Kathy Malone is passionate about providing military personnel with a unique combination of tools and resources needed to accomplish their military transition and create fully satisfying civilian lives. Register for your free Military Transition Strategy Session.
Need your military resume NOW? Visit Military Resume Wizard and create your resume online in about 1 hour.
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The most important step in successful military separation and transitioning to a civilian career, is presenting a military resume that makes it clear to potential employers how your military skills fit their requirements for the position you’re applying for.
A common mistake made in creating a military resume when preparing for a military transition is using too much jargon. When preparing for your military separation and transition to a civilian career, your first inclination may be to show off your accolades and titles just as they’re written in your performance evaluations.
One of your goals in writing a successful military transition resume is to prevent the human resources personnel from overlooking your military resume due to military jargon. When you begin your job search in the civilian workplace, de-militarize your resume. Determine your primary specific skill set and how it applies to the position you’re seeking. As a job seeker making a military career transition, you must overcome the obstacle of a pre-existing stereotype in which you’re imagined as a “paratrooper in camouflage invading enemy lines.”
Your military resume communicates that experience as a soldier, sailor, airman or marine gives you experience as a leader. And that you’re someone who not only welcomes a challenge but achieves goals under pressure. For example, if you were a Weapons Operating Systems Specialist in the field, your military resume should illustrate how your experience makes you both technically proficient with computers and comfortable with intense deadlines. The translation of your talents from military-jargon to civilian-speak is the key to success when transitioning to a civilian career.