How to stop your resume from being sucked into a Big Black online hole!

by K B , updated on May 20, 2016

Did you ever wonder what happens to your resume when you apply to a job posting online?

We seem to apply online endlessly and never hear one-word in reply.

It seems like a big black hole where resumes go in, but they never come out. You don’t have any idea if there’s even eyeballs at the other end.

Well wonder no more.

Here’s the scoop from HR professional Judy Lohr. Judy is an expert in HR information systems.

More on Judy at the bottom of this post. But first up read what she has to say. You might well be surprised about what’s happening to your carefully worded resume once you hit the online submit.

Q: What happens to your resume when you apply for a job online?

A: When you apply online to a job posting, the employer is using an applicant tracking system (ATS) of one type or another.  Simpler ATS’s attach your resume to the job posting to keep things organized for the recruiter.  However, more sophisticated ATS’s can ‘read’ the resume and provide a ‘score’ for how many keywords in your resume match the keywords in the posting.

Q: What are keywords and how do you find them?

A: Keywords are the required skills, education levels, technical requirements and so forth for the position, and are generally included in the job description on the posting.  An easy way to find the most important keywords in a posting is to use  a tool such as wordle.net:

With Wordle, first copy and paste the job description into the site.

Wordle will produce a graphic of all the words in the job description.

The biggest and boldest words in the resulting graphic are the keywords used the most often in the job description.  These are the keywords you need to use in your resume to have a higher score in the ATS and make your name appear at the top of the list. The higher the score, the better chance your resume will be read by the recruiter.

Q: Should you customize your application each time you apply for a role?

A: Typically, a recruiter will look at the top 20 to 50 or so candidates, and will never need to read the rest.   So ideally, you should customize your resume with the appropriate keywords for each job posting.  I know it’s painful to do this each time, but it’s well worth the effort.

Q: Should you submit your resume when there is no job advertised, but the nice friendly website invites you to submit a resume for future openings?

Some ATS software will allow you to apply without being attached to a particular position. I do not recommend this.  If you apply ‘generically’, a recruiter will have to search for your resume when they have a job opening.  Frankly, most recruiters don’t have time to look for you. They generally only have time to look at the resumes already attached to the posting.

If you consider today’s media tells us that hundreds of people apply to one opening in a company, and a recruiter in a large firm may have anywhere from 10 to 20 or more openings at one time, well, you can see how they don’t have time to search for you.

Q: So what’s the final word on keywords?

A: When applying online, use keywords from the job description so that you can score big in your job search, have your resume and read, and get that phone call!”

Our bottom line, about submitting online.

Keywords are very important, as is knowing how the system works, so thank you Judy. If you have submitted your resume online when the company does not actually have a position, keep an eye on the job listings. If you do not receive contact, you might need to reapply and explain your specific interest in the role at hand.

About Judy Lohr

Judy Lohr, MA, SPHR is a current job seeker with a background in HRIS Management, Training and Benefits.  She is in Human Resources because of the human – she loves to help others understand HRIS tools through training and coaching.

Her current quest is to find out all she can about what works in the job search process, and then imparting that knowledge to others to help.  Here’s a link to her profile: www.linkedin.com/in/judylohr and you can follow her on Twitter @judylohr358

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Undercover Recruiter (@UndercoverRec) (@UndercoverRec) September 21, 2012 at 9:27 pm

New @InterviewIQ How to stop your resume from being sucked into a Big Black online hole! http://t.co/DFbmPeZY

EasyWayResume September 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Karalyn, Great article! In talking with many people they have no idea what an ATS/RTS is. They have this great blinged out resume that gets totally lost in the system. I am professional resume writer and we keep it clear, concise and professional and make sure those keywords are prominent! I have a Blog post about the same subject actually and I state pretty much the same things.

EasyWayResume.com
– Not sure what to do about your resume, cover letter or how to get a job? Visit us and get some advice
– 20+ years of resume writing, cover letter writing, LinkedIn profile create by a hiring manager and career blog

Toby Dayton September 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm

The other key point that I’d add (and it is by far the leading cause of the resume ‘black-hole’), is that the vast majority of job sites on the web are actually ‘lead-gen’ sites. These sites are disguised as job boards but they simply use job listings as ‘bait’ to collect personal information which they then resell to marketers. If a site makes you enter personal information before showing you any job listings, chances are extremely high that it is a lead-gen site and not actually a jobs site.

So if you fill out a resume on a lead-gen site, you are NOT applying for a job and no employer will EVER see your resume or application. The only people who will see it are the marketers who have bought your personal information so they can market products and services to you.

The proliferation of lead-gen sites disguised as job boards was one of the main reasons we founded LinkUp – the ONLY job search engine that indexes jobs ONLY from company websites. Entirely unique to the online jobs space, LinkUp only indexes jobs that are found on corporate career websites. Today, our U.S. site lists over 1.2 million job openings sourced directly from approximately 15,000 company websites throughout the country. Updated daily and not readily found on general search engines, LinkUp’s jobs are always current and there are no duplicate listings, job scams, lead-gen pollution, phishing jobs, or fraudulent postings. As a result, LinkUp stands as the highest quality job site on the web, offering both job seekers and employers a highly differentiated and compelling value proposition.

Related specifically to the ‘resume black-hole syndrome,’ we connect job seekers directly to the employer’s website with a single click, with the guarantee that an application for a job opening is being submitted to the employer’s applicant tracking system.

@plotr_uk September 25, 2012 at 6:38 am

Wonder what happens when you submit an application online? Detective @plotr_uk has found the answer – http://t.co/r8L9ZJZh via @InterviewIQ

City Staffing (@CityStaffing) (@CityStaffing) September 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm

How to stop your #resume from being sucked into a big black online hole! http://t.co/IH0g5jtT via @interviewiq

hiddenjobsfinder (@hiddenjobfinder) September 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Thank you InterviewIQ for sharing with us this valuable piece of information! http://t.co/YiEbTMbm

Judy Lohr September 27, 2012 at 11:09 am

Thanks for the info, Toby! I love LinkUp. I do use other job boards in addition to LinkUp, and whenever I see a position posted, I always go to the employer’s web site to see if the position actually exists there. Any firm that is using an ATS typically posts their positions there first. And if they are performing a ‘confidential’ search for whatever reason, you may not see it on their internal postings so internal employees aren’t alerted. Just a few extra tips. Thank you!

Judy Lohr (@judylohr358) (@judylohr358) September 28, 2012 at 9:07 am

#hfchat I’m a #jobseeker very interested in the ‘black hole’ of ATS. See my interview with Karalyn Brown: http://t.co/JtHr5ovw

@AdeccoNZ October 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Where does your resume go when you apply online? http://t.co/GDQGKkPQ #employment

@TheRyanMarchant October 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm

How to stop your #resume from being sucked into a Big Black online hole http://t.co/5jFU0Gax #jobsearch #career #jobs #job

@BiggleswadeJCP November 22, 2012 at 3:05 am

Stop your CV from ‘being sucked into a big black online hole’ http://t.co/ppmOPHQO

Karalyn Brown (@InterviewIQ) (@InterviewIQ) April 20, 2013 at 12:03 pm

How to stop your #resume from being sucked into a Big Black online hole! http://t.co/dcnlnJSITa

Suprabhat Sarkar June 8, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Hi,
About my resume , I always get a call from HR or recruiter and they always says your resume is good and outstanding, but wehave got people more experience and more suitable forthis joib, this happened tome 6 times, can anybody help me.

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