Every day I spend time reading through several job- and career-related websites in search of advice and interesting job postings. I found an article today that gave me some insight into the mind of a recruiter. The article, How Resumes Get Read, is posted on Recruiter.com.
In this article, the author outlines seven common strategies that recruiters use to effectively review job seekers’ resumes without spending much time on them. Though each of the strategies listed in the article is straightforward and based on common sense, seeing them together opened my eyes and helped me understand what I am up against when my resume lands in front of a recruiter. It has helped me understand why I have yet to hear from a single recruiter after submitting over 300 applications (I keep a log…nerd alert!).
- “First ask yourself: Does the candidate live near where you’re recruiting for or have they clearly stated that they want to move to that specific area? If not, you just saved yourself thirty seconds.” This one is a no-brainer that has, in my opinion, done more harm to my job search than any other item on this list. There are several cities to which I would love to move, but only one is within 500 miles of where I live now. I have made an effort to let recruiters and potential employers know that I am willing to move, but to no avail.
- “Hold the resume at arm’s length: Really. Look at the way the resume is formatted and laid out on the page…” I spent a lot of money about a year ago to have a professional resume writer update my resume. At first, I was happy with the resume, but I like it less every day. The formatting is great; clean, simple, and elegant. I don’t like the fact that the entire resume was written with keywords in mind. Some of the writing feels too forced. For example, “Proficient in identifying mutually beneficial partnerships and devising strategies to cultivate those relationships, while maintaining support as demonstrated during an award-winning tenure in law enforcement leadership.” My next order of business will be to address the resume.
- “Next, read it backwards: Just figure out where they went to school, if they went to school, and if it looks like they did a good job and value education. It’s important, especially if your company or client organization values education…” I think that this is one of my stronger points simply because I have a Master’s degree. The fact that my degree is in business management, a versatile concentration, is probably helpful as well.
- “Then read their current job: Determine their core industry and what the person did on a day to day basis. Try to ignore job titles…” I have a feeling that recruiters often fail to “ignore job titles.” My day-to-day work is much like that of a sales person. I cold-call, set appointments, manage multiple projects simultaneously, and depend upon my interpersonal skills to close deals (cases). Unfortunately, I have yet to find a way to communicate this to recruiters quickly in a resume or cover letter.
- “Now figure out their ‘big’ job: Everyone had their break somewhere. Don’t pay as much attention to chronology and the formatted length of each job description – look for the job that gave the candidate the bulk of their experience…” Like location, this one is killing my chances. When I made the decision to begin searching for a new job, I felt confident that experience as a police officer and investigator would be valuable to a company, but I may have been wrong. The ability to work effectively under pressure, deal with stress, and make important decisions on the fly are great, but they are not as valuable as industry-specific experience.
- “Do a check for job hopping: Then look again, it’s vital. In general, you want to see a solid work history with long(ish) tenures at their employers…” Not a problem for me. I have worked at the same agency since I was 21 years old.
- “Finally, do a gut check: Ask yourself if you think the person could do the job that you have for them.” This is another one that I got wrong. Though I imagine some recruiters may have a good gut feeling about me, the negatives (location, job-specific experience) obviously outweigh any points I earn during the “gut check.”
Unfortunately, most of these issues simply cannot be changed – at least not until I move and gain experience in a new field. That Catch-22 is what I will be up against until I land a job outside of law enforcement. Recruiters are not going to be willing to go out on a limb for me because that’s not their job. They have nothing to gain and everything to lose by allowing me to enter an industry in which I lack direct experience.
I hope that my new approach, applying directly to successful small businesses, will allow me to avoid recruiters altogether and deal directly with owners and hiring managers who have the flexibility to look beyond my experience. After all, I only have to find one person willing to give me a chance.
Until next time.