From the hiring side of the desk, resumes are time saving devices. Without them, you would have to interview everyone who applied for every job, and everything else would grind to a halt.
The resume is a useful screening tool, and later in the process it will act as a road map for interviews and as a question-generating tool. However, to be maximally effective in your selection strategies, you should also be able to interpret resumes from the job hunter’s perspective.
A resume is the single most important document any working professional, including you, will ever own. Now, the Internet has dramatically changed the recruitment process, and this in turn has changed the way resumes have to be written if they are ever to be discovered and read. You need to understand these changes and how they affect your ability to screen in the contenders and screen out the rest.
What resumes say about the candidate
Today all commercial and most corporate databases use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS); just as Google will search the Internet for your search terms, the ATS will search a particular database using a greater range of search terms.
A resume used to be looked on as a simple recitation of what the writer thought was important about her work, and so it was cast in the broadest possible terms.
This isn’t such a bad thing, because most resumes for the job you need to fill are not worthy of your consideration. Consider this for a moment: One of the most common phrases found in all job postings is a requirement for communication skills, because these skills are required in just about every job; in fact, the first really important lessons you learned in the professional world required communication skills. Those lessons were “The customer is always right” and “Find out what the customers want and sell it to them.” Most resumes never consider these issues, because their writers lack one of the job’s critical communication skills: listening. For example, you can safely assume that anyone who starts a resume with “Job Objective” and then goes on to speak about what she wants lacks a basic understanding of how the professional world works. So profound a lack of professional awareness it is a big red flag.
Fortunately, the full-scale adoption of ATS means that, for a resume to be found in a database search, it must be focused on a particular job title (or at most two closely related titles), and it must address the key skills related to that job. In other words, the new recruitment methodologies should weed out most candidates who haven’t taken the time to assess how their skills relate to your needs.
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