The Resume Black Hole – Part 2

I posted about the Resume Black Hole a few weeks ago – but I found another article that I had saved on this topic – so I thought I would revisit it.

Candidates always tell me that they often feel when they apply on-line that their submissions get lost in the Resume Black Hole.

Well – this article from the Wall Street Journal by Lauren Webber will do little to alleviate their fears.

The article is from 2012 – but based on comments I have received from candidates recently – the figures quoted in the article appear to still be pretty accurate.
You can read the article here.

Lauren writes:

Résumé overload isn’t just a big-company problem. Job seekers often are surprised when they don’t hear back from small businesses. These businesses rarely hire enough people to make an applicant-tracking system cost-effective, but even a one-time posting on a well-trafficked job board like can garner hundreds of responses.
Only 19% of hiring managers at small companies look at a majority of the résumés they receive, and 47% say they review just a few, according to a recent survey by Information Strategies Inc., publisher of Your HR Digest, an online newsletter.

These are pretty daunting statistics for job seekers….

Bottom line – Networking – whether using your own contacts or the contacts of a 3rd Party (e.g. a Recruiter) remains by far the most effective way to get an interview.

Monkeys Reading Resumes

A couple of years ago, I read a very interesting post over on the Executive Career Coaching blog.  The post is still online.  You can read it here.

In the post, Carl Schumacher writes that you should write your resume as if a monkey was going to read it.

Carl writes,

“If you were driving down the street and you saw a Billboard but you couldn’t make out what it said because the worlds were too small and the message was hidden in a thousand words, you would probably not understand it or crash your car trying to figure it out.
But on the other hand, if it said “EAT AT JOE’S” there would be no mistaking the message.

So is my message when referring to your resume. If you were trying to show something to a monkey you wouldn’t do it quietly or subtlety. You would be obvious about what you were doing. You’d talk simple to a monkey — Monkey want a Banana? Monkey want a toy? — straight forward and obvious.”

Carl makes an excellent point.

Too often I have had tremendously qualified candidates write resumes that are vague or do not spell out in detail what their accomplishments are. The candidates try to be subtle in their approach. When I ask them to provide more detail or be more direct in their resume, the candidates will literally reply….”Well, the Hiring Manager will know what I mean.” or ” Any one who is in the industry will know that I have that type of instrumentation experience. I don’t have to spell it out on the resume.”

But that type of thinking is just plain wrong.

When you are writing a resume, you do have to be specific.
You do have to provide details.
You have to be simple and direct.

Or, as Carl Schumacher so aptly puts it….you gotta assume the person reading your resume is a monkey!!

The Resume Black Hole

I read an article a few years ago that detailed how companies were trying to deal with the tremendous volume of Resumes that were flooding their various Applicant Tracking Systems.

The problem according to Jason Warner (who at that time was head of staffing for Online Sales and Operations at Google) is that:

“…it is now so easy to apply for a job that more people apply for many more jobs, which means that recruiting teams at companies across the world now have to review a significantly increased volume of unsuitable resumes, which creates monumental inefficiency in the overall system.”

In other words, when you submit your resume online, chances are it disappears into a Resume Black Hole.

The question therefore is how to get around this logjam of resumes? How does one get oneself noticed in a virtual sea of resumes and avoid getting lost in the Resume Black Hole?

The answer is fairly simple. The truth is – Nothing replaces the effectiveness of good Old-fashioned, Old School networking.

Malcolm Gladwell had written a column in the New Yorker that discussed this very topic.
In the column Malcolm discussed the work of well-known sociologist Mark Granovetter on the topic of networking in order to find a job. Malcolm wrote:

“…the best way to get in the door is through a personal contact. But the majority of those personal connections, Granovetter found, did not involve close friends. They were what he called “weak ties.” …People were getting their jobs not through their friends but through acquaintances.”

Using ‘weak ties’, whether through your own networking channels, or through a 3rd party’s network [i.e. Headhunter] will enable you to bypass the virtual mass of resumes in HR and at least enable you to get your foot in the door.

As the old saying goes, and it definitely bears repeating, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”