How do I maximize my chances of getting my resume seen by a hiring manager?

During the eight years that I spent as the head of human resources for a rapidly growing software company, I posted hundreds of open positions online and received and reviewed thousands of resumes. Depending upon the job title we were seeking to fill, we would receive between 100 and 500 resumes per job posting. With an average of 10 open positions at any given time, there was no way that I could review all of the resumes we received.

My method of selecting candidates to contact for interviews would be to start with the first resume that came in and move on to the next, stopping when I had about 5 solid candidates to call.  Assuming I had a 10% success rate in finding great candidates, I would generally only get to read the first 50 resumes that were submitted within the first few days. "But wait," you might say,  "I didn't see the job posting until seven days after it was put online. I might have been candidate number 51 and I might have been your BEST candidate!" While that may be true, the sad fact is that hiring managers simply don't have the time to read every resume.


So how do you maximize your chances of getting your resume seen? One way is to apply to jobs within the first few days that they are posted.  This will help you be one of the first resumes submitted and reviewed. If you are searching for jobs on Indeed, you will see that each open position will list how many hours or days ago it was posted. You can probably assume that jobs that have been posted for more than several days already have received many, many resumes. Should you apply to those jobs? Sure! After all, applying to jobs is a bit of a numbers game - you will need to apply to many positions to get just a few interviews and hopefully land one great job. But know that the chances of your resume being seen are slim if the post is already more than a few days old. This is especially true if you are applying to a well-known, brand name company, like Amazon or Google, which will attract an especially large number of applicants. If you are applying to a smaller, lesser-known firm or a start-up company, you may have the luxury of a few more days before their resume “in-box” is overflowing.

Skeptical about this advice? Here's a great blog post by Rob Dalton of TalentWorks with research and hard data to back it up. 

A great way to be one of the first to apply, is to activate the "alerts" function on Indeed so that you can jump on new postings that fit your job search criteria right away.

Another way to get your resume seen is by making sure your resume contains keywords.  Keywords are words that pertain closely to the job requirements.  Many companies have applicant tracking systems (ATS) which manage job applications and have sophisticated, built-in tools to scan incoming resumes for keywords and rank each applicant's degree of “fit” to the job opening. I’ll discuss more about how to use keywords most effectively in my next blog.

Happy Job Hunting!

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