Talent Circles

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why Resume Sorting Software is the Root of All Things Evil

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

When a job opens up and resumes start to arrive, human resources professionals have a huge task on their hands. In fact, nearly one-in-four human resources managers said they receive, on average, more than 75 resumes for each open position; 42 percent receive more than 50 resumes. That same survey also revealed that the vast majority of human resources managers (78 percent) reported at least half of the resumes they receive are from unqualified candidates.

These types of situations, which occur every day in thousands of offices across the world, is partially responsible for hiring managers turning to an outside source to help them wade through resumes. I’m not talking about a recruiter or an assistant. I’m talking about what has led the way in coining the term “resume black hole:” resume sorting software.

There are various opinions on the talent management software. On one hand, the software is a huge timesaver because it could be nearly impossible to view every resume that passes your desk if you work for a large company. On the other hand, though, you could be missing out on great employees because you’re weeding out candidates based on what keywords they did or didn’t use or because they didn’t rank high enough compared to other candidates.

It’s generally viewed as a necessary evil. The kicker with any automated system is that it can also automate mistakes. You have hundreds of resumes running through the system and rather than looking at the resume on an evaluation grid where multiple points of interest are evaluated, it’s sorting through them based on a combination of keywords. Some systems are better than others and some systems are set up better than others, with the right types of keywords and reasonable criteria.

Candidates are getting crafty, though. Considering that these systems have been around for years, people are catching on. The automated rejection email also may have tipped them off. Some are finding ways around the software using a few different methods.

National Public Radio tells the story of an IT professional who used keyword-identifying software to generate his resume. (Spoiler alert: it still didn’t land him the job.) There are also a slew of candidates who are creating their own personal marketing campaigns to get them noticed. It sounds a bit over the top, but when your resume is continually falling in that “black hole” and is never seen again, you have to get creative. Just for kicks, there’s this email from a brutally honest student seeking an internship on Wall Street.

The fact is, there are thousands of hiring managers who simply couldn’t do their job without talent management software that weeds out candidates, but there are also millions of qualified candidates receiving rejection emails on a daily basis. There’s got to be a happy medium between requiring that a candidate have 35 keywords on their resume to pass through the first round and hiring managers manually reading through stacks and stacks of resumes.

On some level, I suppose you could say it’s a form of survival of the fittest. Those who make their resumes stand out get noticed. Those whose resumes don’t stand out will continue the “apply and deny” cycle.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs

Photo Credit.


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