There's a job available. And you fall into one of two categories: either, you are the company who posted the job, or you are a career-seeker looking for a new job.
Let's first play out this scenario as the company who posted the job. When it comes to growing your company's team, the hiring process is one of the most important, and time consuming business activities. Your job is posted on LinkedIn, Indeed, and other job search sites. Which gives you great exposure, but it also floods your inbox with applications. If you are large enough, you might have an in-house hiring manager, or an electronic system to screen resumes. But for many small or medium-sized businesses, this task of weeding through possibly hundreds of emails, cover letters and resumes, will fall to a single person - and probably you. Or maybe a small team of people.
Everyone comes up with their own system of what they are looking for most in their candidate, but one thing that is really important is to make sure your screening process is consistent. Because connecting with someone on paper is such a subjective experience, this will ensure that anyone screening resumes is doing it in a somewhat systematic approach for consistency. And this will also help with the efficiency of the screening process. So what I suggest to clients is to create a list of the 3-5 things you are looking for in a resume. Now remember, the purpose of screening resumes is to determine who you might want to bring in to talk to - it doesn't have to be the end-all-be-all decision maker for hiring. So what are the 3-5 criteria that is important to you to consider bringing someone in. Then, make sure anyone who is screening resumes is aligned with this criterium to put a resume into a yes pile. Now don't be discouraged if your yes pile is still a pretty hefty stack. Narrowing down from the initial flood of applicants to others to consider is just your first step, and an easy way to weed out the definite "no's". Then you'll repeat creating your criteria list a second time and do another screening to whittle the list down further, until you have your handful of candidates to interview. Sound like a lot of work? You bet it is. So another option is to work with a someone who specializes in the screen-out process. We will use the same process mentioned above, but will save you all that time and effort. Interested? I'm happy to chat more about that.
Ok, now let's switch to the career-seeker looking for the job. If you read any of the above, hopefully what you took away is that when you apply for a job, it's not an exaggeration that possibly hundreds of other people have applied for the same job. Now in some cases, even if you are more than qualified for this role, you'll be at the mercy of the person doing the screening. And it very much is a subjective process on what they are looking for to consider your resume in the yes pile. So if it's all just subjective, how can you help boost your chances?
As someone who has done resume screening for several companies over the years, here are a few key tips:
1) Even if you apply on a job-posting site such as Indeed, always include your cover letter. Your cover letter is your best option for showing who you are and why you are the right fit. More hiring managers look at the content of a cover letter than a resume. And believe me, when you've looked at 100+ resumes at one time, they all blend together and say the same thing.
2) Know the industry you are applying for. This will give you a better understanding of what factors might be most important during the screening process - is it certifications, is it fit within a culture, is it level of education.
3) Related to #2 - do your research into the company you are applying for and make the cover letter personal to that company. I cannot stress this enough. A hiring manager can spot a generic cover letter that you use for every application a mile away. And more often than not, those are quickly discarded. Companies want to know that you want to work for them specifically, and why. Think of it like dating - the person you are on a date with wants to feel like they are the only one you've ever gone out with.
4) Work with a career coach to do a resume review to help you best position yourself in your resume and cover letter.
And even better than those four tips above? Is to narrow the playing field. Because even with those tips, you will still be one of hundreds coming through the front door. A career coach can help you figure out how to be one of the few that enters through the side door. For several more tips to help you pass the screen out, or if the side-door approach interests you, get in touch and we are happy to chat more.