Secrets of the job hunt – from a recruiter’s perspective

Secrets of the job hunt – from a recruiter’s perspective

Job-Hunt-DemystifiedHave you ever wondered what happens after you complete a job application online and you hit submit?

That is often a black box where you only know if something has gone well if they reach out to your for an interview.  And you may not even know that things didn’t go well only if the system is set up to send you an automated “Thanks for your application but we’ve filled the position already” email.  While recruiting processes are not always the same, this post is first meant for you to understand at a high level what recruiters would typically do with your resume.  So what does happen after you hit submit and how an interview is determined?

  1. System filter
    • Most Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have some built in technology that will provide systematic filters.  The filters are based on what you answered during your application if any questions were asked.   Or based on what the system could scrape from your resume as it parsed out the text and tried to make sense of it through its “key word matching” algorithms.
    • Companies have varying levels of reliance on system level filtering since some people know how to “game” their applications by making sure that their resume is peppered with the same key words found in the job posting and making sure they show up multiple times depending on what they believe will attract the most attention.  Think SEO (search engine optimization) which you use to be able to trick to get to the top of a search by having the word to be searched used over and over again in the text.
    • So your best bet on getting past this phase is to make sure your resume uses the same words as is on the job posting.  If the posting says “develop code”, say “developed code” don’t say “programmed code”.  The challenge is now making the resume human readable that is not just a cut and paste of the job posting
  2. Recruiter filter
    • Someone in the HR recruiting department will take the applications and depending on what system filters are enabled, will use that as their starting point.  They will then proceed to view them one by one and filter into a virtual Yes, No, and maybe pile.
    • I have read that some recruiters can screen a resume in 10 seconds.  These recruiters look for any reason to put the resume in the No pile.  A spelling mistake, a grammar mistake, inconsistencies in dates, even mis-aligned fonts and formatting.  The idea is that your resume is a professional document that should be among your best work.  And if your best work has even a superficial flaw, then the recruiter can imagine that an important client document or analysis report or whatever else you are supposed to deliver as part of the position you are applying for could also have the same type of mistake
    • Harsh I know, but when you have a tens, hundreds, even thousands of resumes to go through, then spending even a minute on each resume is an eternity
    • The recruiter often has no idea what would make a person suitable for the job and relies on key words and descriptions of responsibilities provided by the hiring manager.  A good recruiter on the other hand has experience with the roles and usually can spot areas of weakness
  3. Hiring manager filter
    • At this point the recruiter did not see any red flags in your resume and probably found relevancy in what your resume says against the job posting that was provided by the hiring manager.  The hiring manager now has the task reviewing what the recruiter passed through to see if what is written on the resume would fit their needs
    • Here you usually have a few minutes to get their attention as presumably the recruiter filter would taken out all but the best
    • The hiring manager will have a Yes, No, and Maybe pile as well and will eventually put you on a short list or exclude you from the shortlist
    • Your resume is compared and ranked against the others.
    • If the Yes pile gets to be about 5 people then the Maybe pile starts getting moved into the No pile
  4. Short list and interviews
    • At this point, the definite No’s are excluded from the process (potentially issued a note from the system with a stock answer)
    • Oddly enough if any remain Maybe’s remain, they are held in a sort of limbo depending on the process of the other candidates.  So if you haven’t heard anything that is actually a good thing
    • And if the Yes pile gets too large, then a more stringent view is taken to keep it to about 5-8 people to be interviewed per position.  The logic is that if you can’t make a decision between 8 people on paper, then making a decision between 8 potentially very qualified candidates in person is not going to be any easier
    • Yes candidates are then contacted for an interview

And that’s it!  At least at a high level and in its most general sense.  Now you know what happens, so you can now make adjustments to your applications appropriately.

We’ll share ways on how to improve your chances at each step in future posts!


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