Why You Can’t Get A Job … Recruiting Explained By the Numbers

Is your “six seconds of fame” enough to land you a job?

As a professor and a corporate recruiting strategist, I can tell you that very few applicants truly understand the corporate recruiting process. Most people looking for a job approach it with little factual knowledge. That is a huge mistake. A superior approach is to instead analyze it carefully, because data can help you understand why so many applicants simply can’t land a job. If you can bear with me for a few quick minutes, I can show you using numbers where the job-search “roadblocks” are and how that data-supported insight can help you easily double your chances of landing an interview and a job.

Your Resume Will Face a Lot of Competition

Although it varies with the company and the job, on average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening. Finding a position opening late can’t help your chances because the first resume is received within 200 seconds after a position is posted. If you post your resume online on a major job site like Monster so that a recruiter can find it, you are facing stiff competition because 427,000 other resumes are posted on Monster alone each and every week (BeHiring).

Understanding the Hiring “Funnel” can Help You Gauge Your Chances

In recruiting, we have what is known as a “hiring funnel” or yield model for every job which helps recruiting leaders understand how many total applications they need to generate in order to get a single hire. As an applicant, this funnel reveals your chances of success at each step of the hiring process. For the specific case of an online job posting, on average, 1,000 individuals will see a job post, 200 will begin the application process, 100 will complete the application, 75 of those 100 resumes will be screened out by either the ATS or a recruiter, 25 resumes will be seen by the hiring manager, 4 to 6 will be invited for an interview, 1 to 3 of them will be invited back for final interview, 1 will be offered that job and 80 percent of those receiving an offer will accept it (Talent Function Group LLC).

Six Seconds of Resume Review Means Recruiters Will See Very Little

When you ask individual recruiters directly, they report that they spend up to 5 minutes reviewing each individual resume. However, a recent research study from TheLadders that included the direct observation of the actions of corporate recruiters demonstrated that the boast of this extended review time is a huge exaggeration. You may be shocked to know that the average recruiter spends a mere 6 seconds reviewing a resume.

A similar study found the review time to be 5 7 seconds (BeHiring). Obviously six seconds only allows a recruiter to quickly scan (but not to read) a resume. We also know from observation that nearly 4 seconds of that 6-second scan is spent looking exclusively at four job areas, which are: 1) job titles, 2) companies you worked at, 3) start/end dates and 4) education. Like it or not, that narrow focus means that unless you make these four areas extremely easy for them to find within approximately four seconds, the odds are high that you will be instantly passed over. And finally be aware that whatever else that you have on your resume, the recruiter will have only the remaining approximately 2 seconds to find and be impressed with it. And finally, if you think the information in your cover letter will provide added support for your qualifications, you might be interested to know that a mere 17 percent of recruiters bother to read cover letters (BeHiring).

A Single Resume Error Can Instantly Disqualify You

A single resume error may prevent your resume from moving on. That is because 61 percent of recruiters will automatically dismiss a resume because it contains typos (Careerbuilder). In a similar light, 43 percent of hiring managers will disqualify a candidate from consideration because of spelling errors (Adecco). The use of an unprofessional email address will get a resume rejected 76 percent of the time (BeHiring). You should also be aware that prominently displaying dates that show that you are not currently employed may also get you prematurely rejected at many firms.

A Format That Is Not Scannable Can Cut Your Odds by 60 Percent

TheLadders’ research also showed that the format of the resume matters a great deal. Having a clear or professionally organized resume format that presents relevant information where recruiters expect it will improve the rating of a resume by recruiter by a whopping 60 percent, without any change to the content (a 6.2 versus a 3.9 usability rating for the less-professionally organized resume). And if you make that common mistake of putting your resume in a PDF format, you should realize that many ATS systems will simply not be able to scan and read any part of its content (meaning instant rejection).

Weak LinkedIn Profiles Can Also Hurt You

Because many recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn profiles either to verify or to supplement resume information, those profiles also impact your chances. Ey- tracking technology used by TheLadders revealed that recruiters spend an average of 19 percent of their time on your LinkedIn profile simply viewing your picture (so a professional picture may be worthwhile). The research also revealed that just like resumes, weak organization, and scannability within a LinkedIn profile negatively impacted the recruiter’s ability to “process the profile” (TheLadders).

50 Seconds Spent Means Many Apply for a Job They Are Not Qualified for

Recruiters report that over 50 percent of applicants for a typical job fail to meet the basic qualifications for that job (Wall Street Journal). Part of the reason for that high “not-qualified” rate is because when an individual is looking at a job opening, even though they report that they spend 10 minutes reviewing in detail each job which they thought was a “fit” for them, we now know that they spend an average of just 76 seconds (and as little as 50 seconds) reading and assessing a position description that they apply for (TheLadders). Most of that roughly 60-second job selection time reviewing the position description is actually spent reviewing the narrow introductory section of the description that only covers the job title, compensation, and location.

As a result of not actually spending the necessary time reviewing and side-by-side comparing the requirements to their own qualifications, job applicants end up applying for many jobs where they have no chance of being selected.

Be Aware That Even if Your Resume Fits the Job Posting, You May Still Be Rejected

To make matters worse, many of the corporate position descriptions that applicants are reading are poorly written or out of date when they are posted. So even if an applicant did spend the required time to fully read the job posting, they may still end up applying for a job that exists only on paper. So even though an applicant actually meets the written qualifications, they may be later rejected (without their knowledge) because after they applied, the hiring manager finally decided that they actually wanted a significantly different set of qualifications.

Making it Through a Keyword Search Requires a Customized Resume

The first preliminary resume screening step at most corporations is a computerized ATS system that scans submitted resumes for keywords that indicate that an applicant fits a particular job. I estimate more that 90 percent of candidates apply using their standard resume (without any customization). Unfortunately, this practice dramatically increases the odds that a resume will be instantly rejected because a resume that is not customized to the job will seldom include enough of the required “keywords” to qualify for the next step, a review by a human.

Even if you are lucky enough to have a live recruiter review your resume, because recruiters spend on average less than 2 seconds (of the total six-second review) looking for a keyword match, unless the words are strategically placed so that they can be easily spotted, a recruiter will also likely reject it for not meeting the keyword target.

No One Reads Resumes Housed in the Black hole Database

If you make the mistake of applying for a job that is not currently open, you are probably guaranteeing failure. This is because during most times, but especially during times of lean recruiting budgets, overburdened recruiters and hiring managers simply don’t have the time to visit the corporate resume database (for that reason, many call it the black hole). So realize that recruiters generally only have time to look at applicants who apply for a specific open job and who are then ranked highly by the ATS system.

Some Applicants Have Additional Disadvantages

Because four out of the five job-related factors that recruiters initially look for in a resume involve work experience, recent grads are at a decided disadvantage when applying for most jobs. Their lack of experience will also mean that their resume will likely rank low on the keyword count. To make matters worse, the average hiring manager begins with a negative view of college grads because a full 66 percent of hiring managers report that they view new college grads “as unprepared for the work place” (Adecco).

Race can also play a role in your success rate because research has shown that if you submit a resume with a “white sounding name,” you have a 50 percent higher chance of getting called for an initial interview than if you submit a resume with comparable credentials from an individual with a “black-sounding name” (M. Bertrand, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business).

Remember a Resume Only Gets You an Interview

Even with a perfect resume and a little luck, getting through the initial resume screen by the recruiter only guarantees that your resume will qualify for a more thorough review during what I call the “knockout round.” During this next stage of review, the recruiter will have more time to assess your resume for your accomplishments, your quantified results, your skills, and the tools you can use.

Unfortunately, the recruiter is usually looking for reasons to reject you, in order to avoid the criticism that will invariably come from the hiring manager if they find knockout factors in your resume. If no obvious knockout factors are found you can expect a telephone interview, and if you pass that, numerous in-person interviews (note: applicants can find the most common interview questions for a particular firm on glassdoor.com).

Even if You Do Everything Right, the Odds Can Be Less Than 1 Percent

Because of the many roadblocks, bottlenecks, and “knockout factors” that I have highlighted in this article, the overall odds of getting a job at a “best-place-to-work” firm can often be measured in single digits. For example, Deloitte, a top firm in the accounting field, actually brags that it only hires 3.5 percent of its applicants. Google, the firm with a No. 1 employer brand, gets well over 1 million applicants per year, which means that even during its robust hiring periods when it hires 4,000 people a year, your odds of getting hired are an amazingly low 4/10 of 1 percent. Those unfortunately are painfully low “lotto type odds.”

Up to 50 Percent of Recruiting Efforts Result in Failure

In case you’re curious, even with all the time, resources, and dollars invested in corporate recruiting processes, still between 30 percent and 50 percent of all recruiting efforts are classified by corporations as a failure. Failure is defined as when an offer was rejected or when the new hire quit or had to be terminated within the first year (staffing.org). Applicants should also note that 50 percent of all new hires later regret their decision to accept the job (Recruiting Roundtable).

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, much of what is written about “the perfect resume” and the ideal job search approach is based on “old wives’ tales” and is simply wrong. However, when I review the numbers that are available to me from internal company recruiting data and publicly through research done by industry-leading firms like TheLadders, Adecco, BeHiring, staffing.org, and Careerbuilder, it doesn’t take long to realize that the real job search process differs significantly from the ideal one.

Rather than leaving things to chance, my advice both to the applicant and to the corporate recruiting leader is to approach the job search process in a much more scientific way. For the applicant that means start by thoroughly reading the position description and making a list of the required keywords that both the ATS and the recruiter will need to see.

Next submit a customized resume that is in a scannable format that ensures that the key factors that recruiters need to see initially (job titles, company names, education, dates, keywords, etc.) are both powerful and easy to find during a quick six-second scan. But next comes the most important step: to literally “pretest” both your resume and your LinkedIn profile several times with a recruiter or HR professional. Pretesting makes sure that anyone who scans them for six seconds will be able to actually find each of the key points that recruiters need to find.

My final bit of advice is something that only insiders know. And that is to become an employee referral (the highest volume way to get hired). Because one of the firm’s own employees recommended you and also because the recruiter knows that they will likely have to provide feedback to that employee when they later inquire as to “why their referral was rejected,” résumés from referrals are reviewed much more closely.

I hope that by presenting these 35+ powerful recruiting-related numbers I have improved your understanding of the recruiting process and the roadblocks that you need to steer around in order to dramatically improve your odds of getting a great job.

About the Author

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.41.40 AM
Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations. He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of Talent Management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations / organizations in 30 countries on all 6 continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR and the Financial Times. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring”, Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics” and SHRM called him “One of the industries most respected strategists”. He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked #8 among the top 25 online influencers in Talent Management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ERE.Net. He lives in Pacifica, California.
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  • http://www.shakercg.com Joseph Murphy

    Thanks for pulling together some of the interesting facts about recruiter behavior. For additional detail, readers can search ‘Candidate Experience Award’ and down load the 2012 white paper. While there, consider participating in the 2013 survey process.

    You reinforce the fact that the vast majority of recruiter effort is candidate rejection. So it begs the question? What is your rejection process?

    Secondly, evidence-based hiring methods often document that previous experience is not the best predictor of success on the job. As such, the six second ‘wonder-look’ may indeed be placing emphasis on the wrong data. This is reinforced by your point that between 3- to 50 percent of hiring decisions are determined a failure. What other business process is allowed to operate with such a high level of waste and rework?

    You suggest it is time for a more scientific approach, and offer the candidate a few suggestions. There are sound alternatives for recruiters as well. Perhaps it is time for a shift from the hope-filled key word search to the research-filled capabilities evaluation. Companies that use evidence-based management for staffing process improvement achieve higher success rates. Learn more about this discipline here.

  • Howard Adamsky

    Excellent work and terrific information.

    Say what you will about the good doctors vest, he can still hit them out of the park!

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  • http://www.TheBigGameHunter.net Jeff Altman

    Thank you for the reference to the impact of racism in selection. I would also add, foreign sounding names . . . the longer the less likelihood.

  • http://salesgenomix.com John Hoskins

    John your submissions are always a great read. This one in particular as it provides us “data” to support our value proposition. We have testimony on our site and each day I talk to employers and also candidates who benefit from our process. Check out http://www.salesgenomix.com/praise-from-career-seekers/. We help sales professionals certify themselves for employers to distinguish them from the pack. The eHaromony of sales recruiting. Thank you John and please do keep the good articles flowing!

  • Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Dr. Sullivan. I think the unstated definition of “diversity” at a company I contracted for (and you have often praised) gives a bit of additional insight to the type of candidates most companies look for:”We hire all types of young, attractive, enthusiastic, largely white, upper-middle class people just like us.” Besides, EOCs overall, this is particularly true of startups- have you seen how few people past their early-30s seem to be in the pictures startups have on their websites? Also, notice how a high proportion of the employees seem to be of the same ethnic group as that of the founders, whatever that may be?


  • http://www.pjmconsulting.com.au Peter Macdonald

    Great article John

    Now can you please pass this along to every job seeker in the world!


  • http://inhouserecruitmentgroup.com Steve Begg

    Brilliant article John. My advice to candidates is that recruiters find people for jobs, not jobs for people and use numbers to outline my comment similar to those you have used here. The 250 resumes is more like 50-70 here in Australia, but multiply that by the 10-15 jobs that the recruiter has on and you have a lot of CV’s. Jobseekers need to understand that workload and therefore build their CV’s so the recruiter can find the information they are chasing quickly. And if they can’t find that information, they are in the “no” pile.

  • A D

    Thanks, Dr Sullivan. This article is an instant classic, destined to be shared out to many jobseekers. I know I will.

    Another example of “uncommon sense”. Recruiters, like most other people, don’t have a particularly good idea of of how exactly how they do their jobs. So applicants have even less understanding of the reality. I already was telling people that they only had a 1% chance at the average job and at most a 10% chance at jobs for which they were particularly suited.

    I would suspect that the amount of time spent varies from 5 seconds to, say, 45 seconds, with most resumes getting only a quick glance at the fields you mention (companies, titles, length of time at each and education and maybe objective) and more promising resumes getting more attention.

    It’s also probable that when a recruiter is wired up to cameras etc, they run through the process a bit more quickly due to nerves and the desire to be more productive. Adam

  • Debbi Morello

    Dear Dr. Sullivan thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations,

    Corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars in profit and hiring less, is that correct? And here’s my very cynical take on “job hunting” especially to those making a living at it, listen carefully:

    I read this and have further confirmation that this is a very sad reality, particularly when you consider how much one needs to consider how much they should “tailor” their resume for a computer.

    Therefore, by that standard, I guess the better your resume can be scanned by a computer, determines the more qualified candidate? What about the human factor? And what about age and race?

    Clearly, the EEOC disclaimers (at least to me) are bold-faced lies. In my experience, age discrimination particularly, is alive and well.

    I see a real decline in value and integrity in today’s world, in the U.S., certainly what matters most, no longer matters. Perhaps you should also explain the “six seconds of fame” factor to our veterans. What a country!

    Signed, the under-employed baby boomer who can run rings around most people getting hired.

    • Lilgirl

      Boy, does your last statement ring a bell.

  • Gary Cluff

    Right on, John!
    These are the reasons I advise all job seekers to get the body there before the paper (resume)! Meet and interact with the people you want to work with. They are less likely to reject or ignore you in person than they are just eye-balling your resume.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Debbi: Quite true. However, I think this isn’t a big change, but the usual state of affairs in a job-shortage economy, aka “the new normal”.


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  • Debbi Morello

    Thanks Keith. I believe it is a big change. I have to say (and this is speaking to Gary’s point about get the body there before the paper) I never had a problem making contact and networking, getting in the door for a face to face. This was certainly true before voice mail and automation, no I’m not 100 years old, though anyone who is under 25 has no idea what I’m talking about. I get in very rarely now, and I’m persistent. On another note, I don’t think it’s only a job shortage economy, I believe there are a few factors playing in, or more than a few. Things have changed and that is “the new normal” – did yothe new normal also includes an exploding suicide rate in boomers? Personally, I believe our society is in the crapper. http://www.nextavenue.org/blog/what-does-exploding-rate-boomer-suicide-say-about-us The New York Times also wrote about this last week.

  • http://www.epraxis.com Severin Sorensen

    Your lament or realization that “with all the time, resources, and dollars invested in corporate recruiting processes, still between 30 percent and 50 percent of all recruiting efforts are classified by corporations as a failure…” is a sobering thought. If read too quickly, your statement may lead some to believe that hiring is nothing but a coin toss, and I am sure this is far from what you intended. I think what it means to me is that in addition to ‘hiring slow’, one also needs to have an on-boarding process to help candidates succeed or ‘fail fast’ with a follow-up commitment to ‘fire fast’ when necessary; thus keeping the search alive for top talent.

    Thanks for your post; always insightful. Thanks.

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  • Keith Halperin

    @ Debbi: Good points. I think that where you had the previous ability to get in (F2F), not many people did as well, or even tried. It’s much easier to do it virtually, so more people do it, so it gets harder for any one person to have that advantage. I think the ‘New Normal” is a radically unequal winner-take-all-society where millions of people ((mainly boomers) who worked hard and played by all the rules have lost heavily and may NEVER get it back. That coulddrive lots of people to suicide, I’m afraid to say…

    @ Severin: You raise a good point- What IS a successful hire?
    Is it someone who is a top group performer who stays with us until we decide they’re no longer useful? Also, I think hiring quality people in a timely manner and within budget should be a deliverable of hiring managers as much as delivering their product or service in a quality, timely, in-budget way.



  • http://www.steedsgroup.com Gary Steeds

    WOW, What a discouraging article. Assuming that these facts are accurate (And that is a big assumption) I should go out there and fire everyone of my recruiters and start over with a new group.

    However, I have a pretty good sense as to the quality of the job my people do as well as to their integrity and sensitivity to the applying candidate. We teach our people to try to screen candidates “in” in the first scan not “out” as this article suggests. Some of our best candidates come from resumes that are submitted from weary and discouraged candidates. Sometimes maybe with a little commitment and a trained eye for reading between the lines will bring better results.

    I can not count the number of candidates that after a positive review and a few professional suggestions that have said “Thanks, no one has ever told me that or tried to give me some positive encouragement”

    While we as recruiters sit in judgement of the “waste of my precious time resumes” we need to look harder and give some positive support to these candidates. We need to do our job. As professional recruiters. We need realize with the litany of ATS have done to the effort it takes to seek a position using the Internet.

    Of course on the other side it seems like I had better get out there do some retraining “where there is smoke there is probably fire”

    Gary Steeds

  • Davine Bey

    Solid analyses. Dr. Sullivan…The race issue is very serious in recruiting. Unconscious/conscious bias plays a major role in the selection process. In 2013, many organizations still refer to some of its potential and current talent as “minorities”. Well last I checked, minority implies less than, which is why I guess “qualified” minority are often encouraged to apply. Nonetheless, I don’t want to derail from the great article that you have shared.

  • Andre Buckles

    I especially liked the comment about reading the position description and applying only based on meeting the minimum qualifications. I think part of the issue is resource constraints for hiring managers, recruiters and companies overall that mean there is little room to train or prepare new employees to be successful without having “been there, done that.” I would argue for us to deal with the talent shortage and the high numbers of unemployed individuals we need to coach hiring managers in the recognition of transferable skills, and give them the room to bring people up to speed. Then instead of 6 seconds per CV maybe we look at experiences which can be used as a starting point to hire, train, and ultimately retain. Having started recruiting before the internet was widely used, and with a homegrown database, we started with a conversation to get to know someone, looked at a resume after and interviewed based on the combination of inputs. Perhaps in human resources we can simply be more human?

    • Lilgirl

      Appreciate your response.Transferable skills are a non starter for HR today. Turning ones back on this concept has HR skipping over attributes like loyalty, maturity, street smarts, and calmness in the face of panic. These are all learned in due time (read: older worker) but are not valued by HR today.

  • http://www.benchmarkrsi.com mark axelrod

    All good info. However, the article refers to roadblocks and obstacles positioned by HR department personnel and internal recruiters, and self-inflicted wounds by candidates who may be valuable employees potentially but who don’t dot I’s or cross T’s very well (or at all) in the run up to the courtship. The rules of the game profoundly change when a motivated candidate (obviously one with excellent credentials, experience and accomplishments) partners with a seasoned independent recruiter whose knowledge of the placement process is respected by the candidate, i.e., the recruiter’s mentoring is accepted. The recruiter, who works directly with hiring managers, then effectively becomes that candidate’s resume. This procedure required considerably more work for both the candidate and the recruiter than to click and hope for the best, but it does up end the odds noted in the article.
    Mark H. Axelrod
    Benchmark Recruiting Services, Inc.
    Now Celebrating Our 25th Anniversary In The Staffing Business

    • herlod

      Spot on. The best recruiter I worked with was a mentor really. He knew what I could do and it made getting to the interview much easier. There was a trust between the hiring managers and the recruiter that gave me instant credibility. Those are the professionals and they are valuable to the process.

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  • Stephen Chatham

    Very realistic and true article.

  • Debbi Morello

    I appreciate your insightful comments very much. Whatever the point of this article seems to be, it has garnered some attention and some good discussion. I can’t agree with you more, and you say it perfectly “the ‘New Normal” is a radically unequal winner-take-all-society where millions of people ((mainly boomers) who worked hard and played by all the rules have lost heavily and may NEVER get it back.” I’m afraid so.


  • Debbi Morello

    Keith, I mean Keith… 😉 not Kevin. Thanks!

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  • Cheryl Wingert

    Excellent and very thorough article. Sad, but true.

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  • amos maffei

    Reading this article makes me wanna cry. If what the author states is true, I believe I will never find a job.
    I graduated a year ago with a 3.6 GPA (double major in Econ/Maths). Despite 400+ attempts, I have not been able to lock-in a single job.I had 8 face to face interviews, and maybe 3/4 more phone screenings -I suspect they needed to fulfill some diversity requirements only.
    The system described, I suspect, has tremendous potential to hide what really goes on during the hiring process. For instance, if an applicant is a foreigner, it can be easily discarded without any need to give explanations, and worse even, no risk to be reported for discriminating.
    As another poster mentioned, the article does not make any mention to the precedence a person has when that person is a veteran. With all due respect to veterans, at the end of the day, they are only transitioning from a job to another, like many of the currently unemployed are doing.
    Another point I wish the article would have mentioned is the role H1B-Visas hold. How comes that these workers come in, expertise or not, and bypass the whole system? While many of us need to have a prove-it typing test even after the various certifications achieved through formal education channels, H1B-Visa holders not only speak English with a great deficit in the vast majority of cases, but hardly ever face the Prove-It squalor most job applicants have to endure.
    Last point I wish i would have heard a mention is nepotism. I believe most of us are not so naive to believe there is not a way around this hiring funnel. In fact a few people bypass the whole system and land a job on the premises that friends recommended them. I find this last technique to be viscid at best.

  • http://www.corvusintl.com Phillip Armour

    What a good article! Thanks.

    One of the interesting things about large-scale dissemination of these ideas is, of course, that a lot more people would be using them. There are some challenges with this. Much of the throttling of the recruiting process is governed by the bandwidth of the recruiters, which won’t change. If more resumes get through the initial filters that would give recruiters more work to do in the same bandwidth. This means that they would likely have to find other reasons to reject most of the resumes very quickly, even if they are “better” resumes.

    The improvement in people’s chances would actually work best if most people *didn’t* apply these ideas, but just a few did. So perhaps calling for widespread popularisation would be counterproductive–best to keep it to yourself to maintain that edge over the rest of the unwashed masses, eh?

    This is rather similar to innovations in financial market dealings (here I’m thinking of Black-Scholes)–it works well as long as people don’t use it, but once it becomes widely known and applied it stops working.

    I think the stats on how many people get recruited but wish they hadn’t or it doesn’t work out is where the real market place problem lies. This article should be read by recruiters more than applicants since clearly the recruiters’ filtering mechanisms are not working well and costing the people who employ them a lot of money. It looks to me like these filters are designed to reduce the workload of recruiters more than they are designed to effectively and efficiently identify good candidates.

    Has Dr. Sullivan addressed this issue somewhere?

  • Al Gamow

    Good tips. Nevertheless, if everyone did everything Sullivan says to do, not everyone will get hired. Sullivan says, “On average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening.” I did the math and came up with one smart guy or gal hired, and 249 not hired.

  • http://www.janzz.com John Donaldson

    Thank you Dr Sullivan for collating this Information and presenting it so succinctly. I wonder whether you would be interested in starting a dialogue with a philanthropic-visioned enterprise that is trying to create a movement to combat just these issues. We have developed answers to the problems you have described in the initial application stage of recruitment for the benefit of both recruiters and applicants and would be honoured if you would review their worth as a contribution towards helping job and talent seekers alike reduce their time and increase the efficiency within the job creation process.

  • Melina Sasso

    Thanks for the article – however frustrating from a job seeker perspective, realistic though. However just once I want to point that of the tons of recruiters corporate, onsite or from whatever recruiting agency, most of the recruiters are not up to speed at all themselves, most of them change their jobs every 6 months or year. Even if they are spending the 6 seconds to scan your CV or resume, the throw away sometime the best candidates because they are not paying attention in those 6 seconds. I went to an event where 4 international companies were represented by their respective HR manager, on site recruiters etc. When HR were confronted by the audience if they were that some of their recruiters have no experience what so ever and don’t recognize when an applicant is a great match for the position they are trying to fill – there was silence for a while, and just HR manager had the guts to admit that is the case and needs to be changed. I have maybe 3 really professional and great recruiter who can give me advice and work closely together with, the rest is useless. So the job seeker is not only faced with all the challlenge you mentioned in your article but unprofessional recruiter and hiring manager who don’t see a great match from an experience, cultural perspective.

  • Colin Williams

    Thanks, a very interesting article. I am consistently gaining interviews, perform reasonably well, but I think my age (50’s) is the killer. The body language of the interviewers is quite telling!
    Any thoughts about the age factor?

  • Debbi Morello

    Colin Williams – I posted a an initial comment on May 21 and several responses subsequently. One point I made was about the age factor, another reason why I found this article sadly insulting and a sad commentary of where we are today; particularly those of us in our 50s with significant experience and expertise. After three years of being jerked around, countless interviews, my references going above and beyond, I came to the conclusion my quality of life was being controlled by factors I viewed with disdain, I made a major decision to say a big F you to all of it. After what I have experienced and witnessed first hand – age discrimination is alive and well, as well as incompetence, lack of vision, and a serious lack of emotional intelligence. Do yourself a favor, find another way. I did, it has not been easy, however the changes I made provided me a path to much more than I was able to envision while mired in that mess. Don’t consider the “roadblocks,” using the term of the “internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley” author of this article, something to “steer” around… take them as a way to the road less traveled 😉

  • employment seeker

    @ Debbi Morello,

    I agree with you on the age discrimination factor. However, discrimination does not stop there –I take for granted that most people know that accent, skin tone, sex and sexual orientation are fertile soil for discrimination to prolifer. An excuse is all employers need in order to turn candidates away.
    Now, to me turning away a candidate means that another candidate has already been identified to say the least. What I wish to point everyone’s attention towards is who those suitable candidates are. In my experience, most of the “suitable candidates” are connected to those making hiring decision through ways of close friendship and family ties –in a word nepotism is the methodology used to hire, and sadly fire in favor of a “better” candidate.
    I feel that this hiring method is what gangs use to recruit new gangsters, the way the mob recruits new mobsters, and the way some exclusive clubs use to admit new supporters.
    I believe that values such as scholastic achievement, great credit scores, no criminal records, in short what determined a valuable member of any society have been replaced with the ability to be cynical and hypocritical — again the ability to leverage on nepotism.
    I am not able to take other ways to find a job because those involve the use of some capital, and I am unable to repay my student loans, since I am unable to find a steady job. However, given the possibility, that seems like a sound idea.

  • http://www.pjmconsulting.com.au Peter Macdonald

    I have been in the recruitment game for over 30 years now. Age discrimination is alive and well! Pre GFC when there was a shortage of people we started to see some walls break down, but Post GFC we’re in a worse position than before. From personal experience part of the problem in the large corporates is the proliferation of HR dept’s staffed by 20 & 30 somethings and shoot me for being sexist here -predominantly female. My perception is they want to recruit friends to work with -I don’t mean real friends but people they feel comfortable with and can become friends with ie: other 20 or 30 somethings and usually of the same gender. If you don’t fit the mould you are pushing the proverbial uphill. The person who will most respect (and understand) your experience and value are people of similar age to yourself. Seek them out personally, don’t waste your time applying to job board ads.

    • Lilgirl

      Excellent response. Ageism is alive and well.

  • W J

    So, can we just agree to conclude that the traditional hiring process is insanely retarded? Even without going into the candidates themselves we have hirers that don’t know what the job exactly is about, don’t know what they want, looking for the wrong qualities etc. Note that when companies don’t even begin to question these underlying assumptions BEFORE THEY EVEN START HIRING how in the hell is the whole thing is supposed to select the correct people? My brain cells are dying already.

    • Dustymack

      Don’t forget that you have to answer questions that don’t even pertain to the job. like “where do you see yourself in five years”. Or “why do you want this job”.

      • Mark

        I answered that “where do you see yourself in 5 years” question incorrectly once :-). I said that I see myself in the same business but as a manager (rather than the technologist of the job to which I was applying)….not realizing that the two people who were interviewing me were indeed the managers LOL.

    • Mark

      WJ: Totally agree. I used to get contract work all the time (prior to 2014). However, after 2013 it all stopped, and the only thing I can think of is because the recruiting business has a HUGE turnover rate; hence, they are constantly hiring new people who know extremely little about the specific requirements that make people good candidates. I am continually astounded when I talk to these recruiters as very few of them have even a basic understanding of my skills, expertise, background, education, training, and of course work experience. They only speak to the client/employer once, and the rest is them trying to interpret a job description, which of course they don’t really understand anyway; hence, they are perpetually submitting all the wrong people for various jobs (usually just friends and colleagues), and then they get fired for not producing enough….and the cycle continues :-).

      • pranoy pugalia

        A recruiter’s job is to source the right candidate and talk to them. Most of the consultants don’t want to talk, they want job descriptions to be sent via email. As a consultant people apply for various jobs, a recruiter’s job is to find out how interested the job seeker is in the job the recruiter has offered. If a consultant doesn’t talk, it’s the very first turn off for the recruiter, as he is not able to judge the job seeker. I am a recruiter and I do a lot of research on the job I am working, maybe I don’t understand the technologies, but I try to get the basic understanding of how it works, and if I get the same requisition to work on again, it becomes easier for me. Sometimes I ask the consultant to explain me in layman’s terms a certain technology which I don’t understand. In the process the consultant speaks something which is related to the job description. We all are naive in the beginning in our respective areas of work, but when one gains experience and is riding high in what we do, what do we do? Some people don’t prefer talking to recruiters, they think of themselves as a superior human being, the recruiter on the other hand is just looking for someone who has the right attitude, someone who can talk to them, explain their background in brief. Help them understand in layman’s terms-THIS is the consultant they are looking for, but at the same time they are not stupid to not match the skill set. The recruiter could be a fresher, and is in the process of learning, and the consultant doesn’t want to speak to the recruiter. The consultant doesn’t find the recruiter fit to discuss his/her background. Whenever I interview for a job, I make sure that I tell them about my background, I don’t ask them to send me an email, or ask the salary right away. The conversation is an ice breaker and the recruiter keeps the consultant in the loop for the right opportunity. We are all humans at the end of the day, treat everyone the way you would like to be treated! If that is not the attitude one has, they are not fit for any job.

        The other side of the story.

  • Olga G

    Very useful article to get some insight on how recruiting works nowadays..They might pick up people who have the right technical skills but anything beyond that is simply a matter of luck..In my opinion?Not really efficient.

  • steve owen

    As a recent college grad and job seeker I wish I had read this article sooner. I had heard that recruiters only spend a few seconds browsing resumes but I had no idea that most applicants are screened out by a computer until very recently. I have outstanding work experience for someone my age, glowing references from my past employers, and I have been tailoring each submitted resume to appeal to a HUMAN recruiter and assuming they might spend a minute glancing over my resume…

    What has that resulted in? Over 200 applications submitted ONLY to jobs that I know I can qualify for, or perform with minimal training. 2 actually resulted in phone interviews that passed to the next stage of talking to the hiring managers. (Here is the interesting part) Zero hiring managers actually bothering to schedule a face-to-face interview, or interview of any kind.

    I am blown away and lost for words at this point. 3 months into my search and I haven’t even been able to show my face to a hiring manager in a financial or banking company. Even when walking into a branch and asking to see the manager in person to say hello, they are almost never available, and none of them want to accept a paper resume. It has to be screened by a computer, then a recruiter, then HR, before they are ever allowed to see any potential candidates.

    My last point, even a glowing employee referral no longer seems to matter if you meet EVERY single qualification except for one. In my case, I met nearly 20 posted requirements for a staff auditing position, had a glowing employee referral from someone IN the department I was applying to, had relevant work experience, and a nicely customized resume and cover letter. I got turned away by HR because they refused to schedule an interview with the hiring manager. Why? I lacked 2 hours of college finance to meet their stated requirement…

    I’m tempted to scrap every extraneous detail (i.e. work achievements and job duties from my resume and submit nothing but job titles, education, and keywords. I just want to see what happens…)

    • Manchershaw Engineer

      I understand your frustration, but in the last case if they state an educational requirement or certification and you don’t have it, then you are not qualified for the position. There’s a difference between being able to do something and being qualified. There are going to be qualified individuals applying for the position, it makes sense that you were eliminated off the bat.

      • Dirtbag359 .

        You’re right in terms of the fact that companies usually list educational and experience requirements. However it’s been frequently shown that a lot of the experience requirements on these job postings are unrealistic.

        One of the most frequently cited examples is this one from Peter Cappelli:

        “One manager told me that in his company 25,000 applicants had applied for a standard engineering job, yet none were rated as qualified. How could that be? Just put in enough of these yes/no requirements and it becomes mathematically unlikely that anyone will get through.”

        To add insult to injury many people have had experiences where they were told they were overqualified for positions in spite of rigorous experience requirements for.

        On the more humorous side you have example like companies asking for 5 years of HTML 5 experience back in 2011 or 15 years of cloud computing experience. In short a lot of companies don’t seem willing to develop talent anymore than have the audacity to complain when they can’t find anyone.

        • Manchershaw Engineer

          A company’s willingness to train to hire might have more to do with their current circumstances than anything. If you need someone certified to do something particular and don’t have the means to do it, it wouldn’t make sense to hire someone just to hire someone.

          As someone who creates listings, every requirement is there for a reason. If I need to hire someone with a lot of HTML 5 experience, then that’s why it’s there. It isn’t negotiable. If I’m not getting the right candidates, then my next step is to make the job more desirable. It’s not to hire someone unqualified.

          • Dirtbag359 .

            I think you might have misread the point. The example cited with HTML 5 was written at a time when HTML 5 wasn’t out yet (technically it was released for the first time 3 days ago). 2011 post asking for 5 years experience with a technology that was not released until 3 days ago in 2014 and had only been given a rough proposal in early 2008 (making 3 years the max amount of experience which only a handful of people would possess if that).

            It would be similar to putting out an ad today looking for mechanics with 5 years experience working on 2017 BMW’s.

            Overall it points to how companies are essentially looking for ‘unicorns’ and if they want anything resembling some of the more ridiculous job postings they’ve made they’d be well served to take a candidate capable of learning and providing training.

          • HerrinSchadenfreude


          • Manchershaw Engineer

            Yeah okay. Hey, I have an immediate need for someone to do “x”. I don’t have any way of training you in house. Take my money anyway!

            I’m sorry you can’t find work with your skills, but perhaps you are looking in the wrong places.

  • Bailey H

    This is an interesting article, however I would like to add a few points being an x recruiter for 10+ years. The first is that it sometimes works to force your way into an agency on foot, this means arriving without appointment and requesting to speak to the hiring recruiter relevant to the role. Just be prepared and also have a copy of your resume on you. Timing is important, make sure you arrive first thing in the morning before recruiters start their hectic day rejecting resumes. Most agencies generally have customer/ client service levels they must follow in order to keep accreditation and ceo’s of Hr/ Rec firms do not like hearing about mistreated candidates. The second is to call and request to speak to the recruiter to ” find out more information on the role”, be prepared as this can turn into a phone interview.
    Be also aware that particularly in Australia, that the majority of recruiters are women and alarmingly I have experienced, therefore favour women for the role they are recruiting for. In my recent job hunt I found only women rejected my applications and I received calls for screening from only male recruiters. This may sound a bit far fetched, but a fact that I have witnessed first hand from ” behind closed doors”. Age discrimination is alive and well, reverse sexism, racism, if you are a gay male you are 80% less likely of landing the role. A lot of women I worked with within Hr openly hate men, just plain and simple. This generally comes down to a nitpicking nature most of them adopt and as mentioned in the article they love to find faults.
    I enjoy working within a role as most do with a balance of sexes, however the dominance is tipping way too far.
    Generally women believe that in corporate roles they need to fight men to survive, but clearly then this then trickles down the business to the way a lot of women recruit. HR managers and Ceo’s really need to curb this issue.
    My theory is that recruitment consultants are ruining a generation of workers, particularly gen y and also destroying the economy with the system they use to screen and reject, discriminate and dominate the industry of HR. Incorrectly hiring, damaging applicants goals for work and so on.
    Remember recruiters get paid to service candidates and the must provide service. Without them they cannot fill roles, in a candidate poor market ( low unemployment ) the tables turn.
    If you would like my advise, network, apply directly to companies, walk in and really “hunt” for work.. Your resume means not a great deal if you get in front of the right hiring manager and employ positive energetic methods of selling yourself in person. Just make sure your resume is simple and to the point. Dress well and be well groomed. Remember people only know what you tell them, so fake till you make it.
    If you are unfairly treated, make a complaint to the hiring recruiters manager and if necessary the Ceo. Always works.

    • dumplump

      DOesn’t work nowadays. They just tell you to apply online.

  • Petrick Russell

    Thank you Dr John for your informative writing. Here I noticed some vital points that really influenced for the job recruitment. However, I would like to tell a little bit about my personal experience as I have been engaged with an organization for more than 7 years. I directly handled recruiting process. I’ve seen most of the candidate commits some silly mistake such as verbal appearance and dress code. Again, everybody telling about the confidence, but overconfidence may spoil your possibility of a specific organization.

    • dangermanumber6

      Verbal appearance?!?!? I hope that’s not grammar, because you would not be the person to judge anybody on that criteria.

  • Atasi Mukherjee

    I have been trying to land a dream job for a while now however I am very qualified I have a MBA under my belt etc. Many thanks for posting this reality in these times to find an ideal job there are too many individuals applying for the same opportunity now I have a very surreal imagination how all these recruiters really do things. Now possibly after this read I hope to land an opportunity in Chicago area.

  • Jo Ardains

    The biggest game that companies are playing now is that they are trying to push everyone into SALES. Everyone needs to be a salesman these days…which is fine except SALES does NOT PAY. So we have a bunch of college graduates who, for some stupid reason, can’t land decent jobs and these are the same people we are trying to throw into low, ridiculous positions such as sales. It doesn’t matter how anyone slices or dices it, the truth is the TRUTH. Corporations are evil, companies in general lack vision and common sense, and the college degree is more useless now than it has ever been in history.

  • lonnie93041

    “Applicants should also note that 50 percent of all new hires later regret their decision to accept the job.” Most places big or small are nightmares to work for no matter what the pay is. Of all the jobs I had only two gave any recognition whatsoever for my efforts: the Navy and a Yamaha dealership in NM.

    My solution? I started my own business. I’d rather starve on my own terms than work for some selfish, unfair, greedy, stupid, insensitive, ungrateful boss ever again. At 57 I’ve had more than enough abuse. I will die in shame for the s@@tty situation my generation left you with by allowing the rotten to the core system to continue unchecked. Please have mercy and don’t violate my grave although I would if I were you.

  • Mark

    I have found that many (most) recruiters do not understand the specifics of the job too. They are reading the job description and being far too literal. It’s almost like a job ad will state that they are looking for someone with experience driving a white pick-up truck, but because I have only ever driven a red one I could not possibly do the job. Very insane hiring practices these days. Perhaps that’s why the turn-over rate for recruiters is so high.

    I was in touch with an engineer in Scotland looking for work last year. He told me a story of a German recruiting firm looking to fill an engineering opportunity for a company there. He mentioned that they went through 25,000 applicants in a year and could not find one person who met the requirements. That is total BS and pretty well sums up how recruiting is done by clueless recruiters. That job should have been easily filled with only 100 applicants. If 25,000 people apply and no candidate is found, then there is something seriously wrong with how recruiters are interpreting skill-sets and professional experience.

    • John Ferris

      I think you are 100% correct. Recruiters are not even qualified in the position they are hiring for. When did positions rely so much on recruiter hiring anyway? When I came out with my M.A. in 2005 my applications went to the head of the department of wherever I was looking for a position. Today you can’t even find their email to send to. Recruiters are not qualified to hire in any industry – they are HR people who should be working on benefits and labor policy – not hiring (except at the back end once hired).

  • Chris Reich

    Agreed, the traditional hiring process is broken. However, there is a smarter way to find a job. More than 50% of available positions aren’t posted. By strategically connecting job seekers directly with hiring managers you can avoid all of this nonsense. Find out more at GoBeyondU.com.

  • Focus Blue

    Job hunting is a total crap shoot. You’d have better odds winning a few coins at a slot machine. But this kind of scrutiny proves that employers are more interested in how many resumes they can process than they can fill positions.

  • Sue

    Bloody hell this was depressing reading. Enough to put anyone off even trying.

  • Sue

    I prefer a more positive approach. Focus on what you can influence and forget about the odds – what differnce does it make knowing you’re up against it – you can only do the right things to perform your best. Self esteem is vital to the job of selling yourself to an employer, so why look at from a pespective that could make you feel small and insignificant.

    • Lilgirl

      To that end, just what can you influence? People like to know the odds because in a small way it tells them that it is not their fault and they are not crazy. This is a small contribution to the complete confusion you are left with when you have a masters degree and can check off experience and achievements in each of their requirements. Not even a phone call? Good luck finding out why.

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  • mcm69

    I returned to college after being laid off in 2011; got a B.A. in Psychology, have 25 years customer service/ sales experience, 45-year-old female. I’m self-employed (e-commerce while in college up to now) and put that on my resume so I didn’t appear unemployed. Otherwise it would have shown a 3-year gap in employment (while I was in school full-time). It could hurt me, it could help me, who the heck knows, and I don’t
    really care, I DID and DO work, it counts to me. I’ve plaid around with my resume so much, it’s ridiculous. I feel like the keyword master. I’ve applied to about 45 jobs online within a one month period, got 3 interviews (after reading this article, I actually feel lucky…), one may actually pan out to something….checking my references, background check, drug test, etc. and it looks very hopeful after a great interview, but I keep applying until I have an actual offer on the table. I try not to go insane in the meantime. I look at it as a numbers game, but I also pay meticulous attention to my public profiles, such as great pics/ good info on LinkedIn, Monster, Facebook, etc. I feel everyone’s pain trying to reenter the job market, it can be so discouraging. While I don’t dispute them, I can’t sit here and just believe these “stats”, that I’m too old, too this, too that…..I am creating my own stats, and with a little finesse, hope to beat this ridiculous and seemingly ineffective recruiting system.

    • Lilgirl

      I heard something somewhere that said, if you owned a company, they kick out your resume because you supposedly can not learn to do it someone else’s way. This, of course, is without ever speaking with you. I think they will say or do anything to eliminate resumes because they don’t have any other good reasons to eliminate 250 or 500 of them. I even read an article that said some hiring managers are going back to SAT scores. if that isn’t an absurd and ridiculous, I don’t know what is.

      • HerrinSchadenfreude

        This is true. They claim they want thinkers and people with drive, then eliminate you because of some assumed inability to balance your business or even freelance/hobby work with their crap job.

  • BPD

    Age discrimination is HUGE and RAMPANT in the hiring process. To deny it is to be delusional.

    • Marty Garozzo

      Thank you totally agree

    • Lilgirl

      actually, I have never seen it denied. No one would dare…

  • Marty Garozzo

    There is no Rhyme or reason to the hiring process . There is no personal connection,no one knows your face ,your family, your work ethics or your experience. Your one of a thousand applicants,one of a thousand resumes, no one knows you as a person and if you are an older applicant with experience you are automatically sent into cyberspace black hole never to be given a chance for that job, even though it is supposedly illegal to discriminate against seniors . It is a very impersonal and frustrating time to find a job these days. Things really do need to change for everyone

  • Marvin Blok

    Interesting to read that the recruitment process is only a matter of seconds. Means that a recruiter makes a decision for a go or a no go within 10 seconds. I understand the issue that recruiters receives a large volume of resumes and the available time that the recruiter has is very short. Your resume is your business card of your own enterprise and it is quite interesting because commercial and public organisations are now more looking for staff with soft skills and these soft skills you can’t read it from a Resume. I think that is one of the biggest problems at this moment with applying for jobs online and that Recruitment companies has a program that screens or matching the resume with the job vacancy and I do not think that is the best way because recruitment process is still a people business.

    • http://www.rainmakervt.com Mike O’Horo

      IMO, the issue is “credentialism,” which is intellectually lazy. “Oh, she went to Stanford; she must be good.” Or, “No degree? Must not be qualified.” My research into hiring bias has shown that most biases are subconscious, which means the holder of them isn’t aware of them and can’t do anything about them, so they produce false positives and false negatives.

      Google’s SVP of People Ops, Laszlo Bock, is on record saying that “Too many companies rely on clumsy software products that sort and filter resumes based on keywords. And too many recruiters do the same thing, looking for fancy schools or company names instead of at what you actually did. I haven’t seen anything to suggest that resumes predict performance. Resumes are a very poor information source. Work sample tests are actually the best predictor of performance…”

      In the book, “The Rare Find,” you see how those with what are called “jagged resumes,” i.e., a few too many jobs, or gaps in employment, are often future stars who simply haven’t found the right situation yet.

      Here’s are two recent, concrete examples.

      1) The CEO of our startup (we build software that lets companies publish “Tryouts,” which are requests for specific work samples) met with an HR executive who had been described as a progressive thinker. After the product demo, the HR guy complimented our UI/UX. Our CEO thanked him for the compliment, explaining that he was the designer, and pointed out that if he applied to this company he wouldn’t be considered because nothing on his resume said, “Product Manager” or “UI/UX Designer.” The HR guy got it immediately.

      2) After hiring an engineer through a Tryout he published, the Director sent us an email saying “Because we were able to see what he could do, we moved to an interview and then to an offer. Seeing his resume later, I realized that we would never have considered this guy based on his resume alone. It didn’t look like he had enough experience. I’m glad the Tryout kept us from missing out on a good team member.”

      Five years of experience doesn’t mean you can definitely do the job, and one year doesn’t mean you definitely can’t. Neither are useful data.

      making a hire ne of our early beta customers sent us an email

      Credentials mean nothing. Whether or not you can do the job is the only thing that counts.

  • Ashley

    So in summary… We’re all just set up to fail and never get a job!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.rainmakervt.com Mike O’Horo

    IMO, the article’s stats are accurate. Applying for predefined jobs is insane, as the author has convincingly illustrated. So, if the odds are stacked against you in this way, why do you subject yourself to this mechanism?

    Instead, I encourage you to view this as a marketing and sales problem. Through that lens, why would you ever tolerate any contact whatsoever with HR or Recruiting? If you’re talking to them, you’ve already lost. They have no demand for you (marketing) and can’t buy you (sales). By definition, that’s a waste of time. Sales people know that you never, ever waste time with people who can’t buy.

    You’re the product. What do you have to sell, and who would logically need to buy it? What problem can you solve? In which industry would you likely find a frequent occurrence of that problem? Within that industry, where is the logical sweet spot, i.e., companies big enough to need you and afford you, but not so big that it’s impossible to get access to the person experiencing the problem? Within those companies, who likely lives with your problem every day, and is therefore motivated to be creative in solving it?

    Where do such people congregate, physically or virtually? Are there local “watering holes” where they hang out, or conferences you might attend to meet them?

    In any space, there are blogs or other forums where the industry conversation about your problem is robust, and where you can participate, learn about the industry, contribute to the conversation, make an impression, and get to know people, any of whom may seek your solution or know someone who does. This is called “product sampling,” and it’s the oldest and most effective marketing tool ever devised. You’re letting them sample your thinking, and how you interact. Some of them will conclude that you’ve got something to offer.

    If you persist in participating in a resume-based game that’s completely rigged against you, you’re a fool, and will have only yourself to blame for your frustration and anxiety.

    Quit being passive, waiting for someone else to do all your work for you, i.e., to define, and make available with a simple document upload, a job you want. If a mouse click is the limit of what you’re willing to do, most people would conclude that you’re not as serious about getting ahead as you delude yourself to be.

    Create your own job by demonstrating relevance in the right conversations. Some of those who perceive you as relevant will give you a chance to be useful. If your usefulness conveys business impact, you’ll be seen as valuable. Isn’t that what you’re hoping someone will take from your resume, that you’re relevant, useful and valuable?

    Take control and give yourself a chance to win.

  • Joseph Em

    Oh hogwash…employment is about people, and the shift toward automation and inexperience “recruiters” to select candidates is just plain laziness and takes the “people” part out of it. Try having someone that’s actually done the job READ the resumes. A 22 year-old corporate drone is not the best choice for candidate selection.

  • ua2

    And this is why after two grad degrees from top 25 schools in semi-quantitative subjects, I’m still unemployed after 5 years – with some volunteer experiences sprinkled in the interim.
    My 20’s have been an utter disaster, and as I just turned 30, things aren’t looking up either.
    I literally don’t know how anyone gets a job anymore besides being offered one during college or grad school.
    And yes, I was offered a job in grad school on a great career track but it was in 2010 and was rescinded due to the economy.
    any call back I ever get is pure luck after just spending hours every day throwing apps and feeling the masochistic pain of rejection which has completely numbed me emotionally to anything else.

  • Mark

    This is so true, especially for government positions. They follow a very strict formula, and pretty well need a minimum of 10 applications, and then interview at least 4 people for every advertised position (which is also very expensive). However, because many governments are unionized they cannot hire people from the outside because they are not in the union and don’t have seniority. If they do hire someone who is more qualified from the outside the position will simply be grieved by the union and all is for not. So governments, almost as a rule, will never hire you into a role that requires experience and expertise. In Canada you will need to apply for the very bottom (of the proverbial totem pole) type job to get in, and then start to work yourself up over the next 20-30 years….and if you already have 10 or so years of experience, who will want to take a job like that and have less seniority (or say) than someone with 1-2 years of experience in the exact same role?

  • http://www.reconnectin.com Alf Delli Fiori

    Dr John Sullivan , the article was very informative, and even through all the recruiting process there’s the Psychometric Testing, and police checks to contend with, it would be interesting to understand the benefit of of the screening process of Psychometric Testing during the pre employment stage and the Knockout rate of the acceptable candidates.

  • CreativeScience

    US employers can get a better deal on labor in Asia, there is no incentive for US employers to hire Americans who cost much more to employ than people in Asia.

    Both the USA and Asia have a superior education system and a huge body of highly skilled people. So both regions of the world have the qualified candidates all employers are looking for. But in Asia, it costs 90% less than it does in the US.

    Plus the US Government imposes a 45% corporate income tax on large US corporations when in Asia the corporate income tax on large corporations is no more than 10%. What US corporations make in Asia using cheap labor they can import and sell into the West at retail price. This results in huge profits at low tax rates for US corporations that outsource, refusing to hire Americans and only hire employees in Asia.
    Add to this the NAFTA “free trade zone” imposed upon the USA in 1994, and this eliminates the Import Tax on foreign made goods imported into the USA.

    The only reason US corporations actually advertise job postings IN the USA is so that they can attract cheap H1B Visa immigrants for hire. The law states that US employers must advertise to the American public first before they can hire cheap H1B Visa immigrants not protected by the US Department of Labor.

    All the fake job interviews US employers give to Americans (US Citizens) is just a scam to look good to the authorities. In reality, US employers hate to hire US Citizens because it will cost them too much money due to the laws required by the US Department of Labor regarding the hiring of US Citizens.

    The only US Citizens that are hired in the attempts to DUMB THE USA DOWN and make it into a consumer nation are senior citizens, women, union members, government employees, illegal immigrants and entitlement parasites.

    All the highly qualified and experienced technical professionals that happened to be American (US Born Citizens) are not wanted in the USA. It is no surprise that online (Internet) self-employment and going into business for yourself as a contractor are becoming a new norm in the USA.

    Skilled technical professionals in the USA are learning to create their own jobs by creating their own line of products/services and marketing them worldwide through the Internet. Transactions can be handled from bank to bank through E-Commerce and products can be shipped via the postage system. Any information consulting services can simply be downloaded or sent via E-Book online.

    This is the real reason why there aren’t very many jobs in the USA. Employers can get a better deal on production through foreign outsourcing, automation and hiring contractors than they can with hiring direct employees.

    • HerrinSchadenfreude

      Agreed. But there’s one problem these IDIOT companies don’t seem to get. All that crap they think they can sell back into the U.S.? Who’s going to BUY it if nobody has a damned job?

  • Donald C

    Just about what one would expect in todays world. The young are great at using YELP vs a conversation as to where to eat. or how to have a conversation vs posting your thoughts in a text. Yep, alive and well is the No experience, but educated (u get the job) because you will work for peanuts, have no speeding tickets and your credit is perfect because you have none…. Buy a house, get ripped off, credit goes bad and you lose the computer sweepstakes…
    One reason I am glad I am in the Engineering, electrical field. At one time it was highly packed with people, no more. It takes work, practice, continued hands on education to do my work and you cant google the answer to why a contactor works sometimes and not others… No it isn’t a ghost !
    Sad to…. Age can hurt.. I don’t think it is so much that as you get older you slow a little. You do end up working much smarter (climbing down the ladder vs jumping off the platform)… But, in the background, someone is stating, their older and use more medical, thus our insurance is going up. Going to be a lot of lawsuits from this soon as sooner or later a computer software is going to get busted blocking out the older folks…

  • Karmila Putri
  • http://obatkeputihanonline.com sinta maharani

    cara menghilangkan gatal pada keputihan love articles like this because it will give motivation to continue working

  • HerrinSchadenfreude

    Sounds like on behalf of all of the people who can’t get food because they’re hungry, can’t get a coat because they’re cold, can’t sleep in a bed because they’re tired, and yes, can’t get a job because they’re unemployed, most hiring managers need to get punched right in the face repeatedly until the puncher’s hands go numb.

    That would also be quite satisfying to all of the people who submit .PDF resumes to ATS sites that clearly list .PDF as one of the valid formats for resume submission. Also, all the people who have to deal with these incompetent recruiters who contact them about jobs that have nothing to do with their skill set and then try to tell people they need to match the jobs they apply to themselves better than a proper pair of pant legs. Also to the people who get rejected for “a single error on their resume” despite the idiots doing the rejecting putting a system rife with errors in front of their hiring processes and turning out to be error prone humans themselves always apologizing for delays and such once you pull them out from behind their curtain and knock the Wizard mask off their pinched little unpleasant faces.

  • https://www.behance.net/wassimayoub Wassim Ayoub

    Interesting Article, Thanks

  • Tonymalony

    Great article John – fascinating.

    One question: When you apply via Linkedin can the hiring manager see appellations you have made to OTHER companies or just the company that he hiring manager works at using Linkedin Recruiter?