You Are The Reason You Can’t Find Work (Confessions of a frustrated recruiter)


by Kofi Annan, VCCS


Study after study demonstrates that recruiters only spend anywhere from six to twenty seconds looking at each resume. If you’re like most people, you’re probably thinking this is an outrageous and blatant dereliction of duty. “How could they be so lazy!?” you’re probably thinking. Well I’m here to tell you that if you’re like the average job seeker, it’s your fault. Yes, I said it. You are the reason recruiters only spend a few seconds on each resume; and consequently you are the reason you can’t find work.

6 Seconds to Land an Interview

The reality is that the average job seeker spends just as little time reviewing the job descriptions before they submit their resume...that’s if they read them at all. Technology has made it remarkably easy to apply for jobs. Two to three mouse clicks is all it takes and your resume lands in the recruiter’s inbox. Today’s job boards are designed to maximize speed and efficiency, allowing job seekers to apply several jobs in a relatively short period of time. So within an hour of posting a vacancy it’s not uncommon for recruiters to receive dozens of resumes.

171-out-of-work-940Sounds great right? Wrong. The problem is that most job seekers take the ‘shots on goal’ approach to job searching. They try to apply for as many jobs as possible and just hope something makes it through. In most cases they don’t even read the job descriptions. How do I know? Because I’ve experienced it first hand. For some jobs - particularly the more technical ones - literally 95 percent of the applicants won’t meet the basic requirements or certifications posted in the vacancy announcement. I’ve literally had landscapers, childcare providers, and dental assistants apply for IT positions. Granted these are extreme examples, and the majority of the applicants are actually in the field, but had they taken the time to review the posted minimum requirements they would see that they didn’t qualify. Some job boards like Indeed give recruiters the option to post pre-screening filters. But some applicants will actually lie on the pre-screening questionnaire to force the recruiter to open their resume, only to find out they don’t actually have the required skills they claimed to have on the pre-screening questionnaire. These applicants really drive me nuts. Because after spending an hour clearing out my inbox from the fifty or so obviously unqualified candidates I get my hopes lifted when I finally come across what appears to be a qualified candidate, only to have my hopes dashed again when I open up the resume to find out the person just lied on the questionnaire and wasted even more of my precious time.

With this as the backdrop, how can you realistically expect recruiters to spend more than a few seconds on each resume. By the time they get to yours they likely already in crappy mood. Finding qualified candidates can be like finding a needle in a haystack. So the next time you go to submit your resume for a job remember what you’ve learned in this article. You aren’t actually helping your cause by simply applying for any and everything. In fact you’re not only hurting your own chances of finding a job, but making it worse for the next guy - who might actually be qualified. It is better to take the time to read the job description, examine the minimum qualifications, and then tailor your resume to fit the vacancy. Take off all the unrelated jobs you’ve done in the past. Make multiple resumes, each geared towards a different objective, if you’ve done unrelated jobs. The less unnecessary minutia recruiters have to filter through, the better. Remember they’re probably already in a bad mood from having to go through the fifty crappy resumes that came before you. So help them out. Sure this will slow you down, but less is more when it comes to job searching. If you applied to twenty jobs in an hour, you’re wrong…and you probably didn’t actually qualify for most of them. So don’t complain that no one is hiring and cite the five hundred jobs you applied for as evidence. Because like I said it’s probably you. You my friend - not the the job market, not the Mexicans or Chinese, not robots - just might be the problem.

And if you don’t know how to best tailor a resume, seek professional help. Veteran Career Counseling Services Offers several free tools and paid services to help cut down on the amount of time you will need to spend searching.