Deborah Walker

Calling All Recruiters — Is Anyone Out There?

Online job services were meant to automate the job search process and get job seekers in front of prospective new employers quicker. How well is it working for you?

November 17, 2011
by Deborah Walker, CCMC

If you’ve sent out dozens of résumés and gotten little or no response it probably feels like you’re shooting your résumé out into some vast black hole with no recipient at the other end. Do you feel like shouting, “hey, is anyone out there?”

To better the odds that a real person who can offer you a real job is seeing your résumé, here are three strategies to make your résumé more effective:

  1. Include Keywords

    With paper résumés a thing of the past, employers use candidate tracking databases to store résumés. Recruiters and hiring managers use keywords to query for appropriate candidate résumés. If you aren’t using the right words to describe your employment experiences, then your résumé may be rejected before it’s ever seen. Review keywords your résumé uses to:

    • Describe your current career objective. Do your qualifications match the job description? Look closely at areas listing your technical skills, job responsibilities and core competencies.
    • Attract your industry. Are you using your industry’s current buzzwords? Avoid obsolete terms and phrases that may label you as behind the times.
    • Attract your occupational field. Does your résumé give the impression that you’re on the cutting edge or over the hill?
  1. Use the Correct Electronic Version

    If your résumé can’t be opened as an attachment, then it can’t be seen. Because of the threat of computer viruses many companies only accept résumés through their own online forms, which ask you to cut and paste (rather than attach) your résumé. Make sure you are sending your résumé in a format that will work for the recipient:

    • If a résumé attachment is requested: Save your résumé as a Word document (.doc or .rtf). This is the standard most companies use. It should retain the formatting that you used for your résumé so long as you avoid fancy formatting options such as columns, boxes and tables.
    • If an e-mail or online form is used: Use ASCII, plain text or text only. This removes formatting, but the information is preserved. Be sure to review your résumé before sending it to ensure that it is still easy to read and user friendly.
  1. Create a List of Behavioral Questions

    With hundreds of candidates to choose from, what makes your résumé shout “Pick me!”? If your qualifications are similar or equal to the vast majority of other candidates, employers will need a compelling reason to select you out of the crowd. You need a differentiating edge or you’ll be ignored.

    The best way to set your résumé apart from others is with accomplishments. And those accomplishments really stand out when:

    • They are quantified or measurable. Can you define how much you accomplished in dollars saved, contracts won or percent changed?
    • They highlight your transferrable skills. Can your skills be used by this company, even if your job experience is in a different industry? Transferrable skills help employers visualize you in their organization.
    • They show corporate impact. How can you help them save time, save money, increase their profit margin, improve sales or increase revenue?


While the Internet is still a great tool for job seekers to connect quickly with employers, take steps to ensure your résumé won’t get ignored by employers who need your skills. Before you apply online again, use these three tips to make sure your résumé gets the attention it deserves!

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Deborah Walker, CCMC, is a Career Coach helping job seekers compete in the toughest economy. Her clients gain top performing skills in resume writing, interview preparation and salary negotiation.