by Rebecca Kluberdanz, former Senior Editor
previously published 11/11/14
Avoiding the Resume Black Hole
As job seekers in an increasing technological world we are all familiar with the dreaded online job application. You’re asked to fill about everything you could ever know about yourself, insert your resume in five different places, take a questionnaire that lasts 24 hours and to thank you for your efforts you get a lovely automated message back two seconds later thanking you for your soul. However, despite all the effort that we put into these applications, we often never hear back from these employers. Our resumes are sucked into the black hole that is the company’s human resources department.
This online application process does have to some perks in that you can easily complete these applications while, say, lounging in bed while still wearing your pajamas, but unfortunately, a lot of other people are doing the same thing! Employers are inundated with applications so more often than not we never hear a word from them beyond that automated message I mentioned earlier. That is why it is EXTREMELY important to make sure your cover letter and resume stand out and always head to the top of the virtual pile. Here are some suggestions on how to do just that:
• Use keywords: Take a look at that job posting and see what language they use. Obviously there are skills listed that employers would prefer applicants to have. If you have those skills make sure they are mentioned in your resume. In some cover letters I have literally copied and pasted things directly from a job posting to explain why I have those skills.
• Keep it simple: Unless you are applying for some sort of creative position where you need to showcase your work there is no reason to clog your resume or cover letter up with graphics and strange layouts. Just keep it simple and clean. Don’t make it easy to toss your resume aside because it is just too much to look at.
• Have someone proofread your materials: I cannot stress how important it is to have some proofread your application materials. Sometimes, even after reading your resume half a dozen times, you can miss silly typos. I also suggest reading everything out loud. It might sounds right in your head or when you are writing it down but when you read something out loud you catch a lot more.
• Network: Use your connections! The desire the get a job or even an interview on your own merit is admirable but, unfortunately, not everyone else feels that way. If you know someone working at the library or institution that you are seeking a job in, shoot him or her an email! I don’t suggest hounding them but a quick check in never hurts. Make it casual, ask them more about the institution or if they know anything about the position and the day to day. It certainly doesn’t hurt to learn more about the position you are interested in interviewing for.
I know the resume black hole is a scary place but hopefully but tailoring your resume and cover letter to a position and using language to help it stand out your resume won’t spend too long there!