Job application in modern technological world

By , last updated March 27, 2015

Recently I found somewhat unusual and even unexpected advice about job search:

When applying for jobs (especially to large organizations), look through the job description and add any keywords they use to your resume as frequently as possible to get your application through HR.

The reason for this is simple. Human Resources Department is the first line of defense for hiring at most large organizations, but HR people often can’t judge qualifications for specific jobs (e.g. A person with a Master’s in HR doesn’t know what makes for a good nuclear safety inspector). This leads them to filter out resumes using keywords and jargon as an indicator of abilities. And how do they do that? By using automated filter software!

Here’s what people involved in hiring think (taken from reddit):

Trickery brings up the question of honesty & ethics. I don’t want someone who can’t be trusted in my org. That’s a nightmare. I know the hope is you’ll be seen as clever, that this is your Kobayashi Maru, but it’s not.A recent example: the guy who recently hacked Calacanis’s VM in hopes of getting funding.But it’s sure that you should read the job description & tailor your resume to it.

This is not keyword stuffing.

But if you see my description involves REST, distributed systems, low latency response times, and you’ve done those things, by all means, modify your resume to use my language. Yes, I probably would have figured it out anyway, but as OP correctly states, there are filters before me, and this helps filters do the right thing: get me the resumes that have a good chance of turning into new hires.

I would actually go one step further: Structure your resume & emphasize the things I’ve said are important to me. Give examples & specifics if you can. Help me have confidence you’re the right fit.

I’ve helped a lot of friends & coworkers with their resume and the mistake I see time & time again is that people incorrectly think a resume is a list of their achievements. It’s not.

Let me say that again: your resume is not about your accomplishments.

In fact, to be blunt, your resume isn’t even really about you.

If you want your resume to be about you & you want it to be a list of the great things you’ve done, great. You can give it your mom & she can proudly hang it on the fridge next to your artwork from pre-K.

However, if you want your resume to be a tool to get you a job, then it needs to be about me. Your resume needs to be a tool to help me understand if you can solve my problems & are the right person to fill spot I have open. It needs to connect the problems I have to how you could tackle them. The easier you make that, the better it is for the both of us.

My general advice is to have a stock resume that’s a bit on the long side. The reason it’s on the long side, is you’re never going to submit it unmodified. Instead, you pluck the relevant details and strip out the irrelevant ones.

I know — it’s really, really painful to kill that project in .NET that you knocked out of the park & everyone at that your last job thought was amazing. But if there’s absolutely no bearing to the position at hand, then it should go.

Anyway, good luck to anyone looking. Hopefully that’s helpful to someone.


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