Avoid the Resume-Screening Process

As a former corporate recruiters, we quickly learned that resumes are typically used to weed out potential candidates. If you’ve ever been in the position to hire new employees, you know how this goes. No matter how many job openings a company may have, it simply doesn’t have the time or staff to interview every single applicant. We sifted through the day’s resumes and made three piles: “Great,” “Possible,” and “Never.” I called people from the “Great” stack for interviews. Eventually, we threw out or filed the “Possible” and “Never” resumes.

With the advent of resume-screening software, or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), your executive resume may be scanned as quickly as any other resume, either by a screener in the human resources department (who may pass it on to the hiring executive) or electronically by a computer.

In both situations, employers are looking for essential keywords that relate to their job requirements, including, but certainly not limited to, project management, budgeting, international marketing, team leadership, staff training, finance, CEO, COO, CFO and so on. Computers and people may also be searching for particular certifications, software brand names or keywords specific to certain industries. Assuming this is found, readers may then check for a steady work history (little or no job-hopping, or too many jobs in too short a time), educational background or training.

If the initial glance passes muster, the HR representative may pass along your resume, with several others, to the hiring executive. Typically, that manager is the direct supervisor over the position and will make the final decision about whom to call for interviews. The initial interview is usually conducted by HR department staff (many of whom may not have a detailed understanding of the position at hand), and a short list of candidates is created.

Finally, three to five candidates will be interviewed by the hiring manager (sometimes with other department managers present), and a decision is made to offer the position to the candidate who best suits their needs, corporate environment, payroll budget and, most importantly, who is most liked among that group of hiring managers.

Clearly, there are plenty of opportunities throughout the process to eliminate resumes and candidates. Your job search isn’t about having every possible degree or certificate or qualification—it’s about making the best of what you have and what you can offer, right now. It’s about winning the confidence of others and about not being eliminated by someone else who may technically be less qualified than you.


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