The Resume Black Hole: What It Is and How to Avoid It

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BlackholeSince the Great Recession of 2008, the so-called “resume black hole” has gained nearly mythical status among job seekers and employers alike. Though most employers would prefer to believe it is a myth, the experiences of many job seekers proves otherwise. The resume black hole is real, and the fault lies with the broken job-application process of employers.

In a recent survey  from Seven Step RPO, job applicants were asked about their latest experiences applying for jobs via a prospective employer’s website. The results show that one-quarter of candidates never received employer acknowledgement of their application. Only one-third recalled being asked to join a prospective employer’s talent community for future job alerts, company news, and other updates, and 41.8 percent reported looking for a direct HR contact, even after applying for a job online.

While these findings may not be especially shocking, what is surprising is how often companies abandon the proper development of their online application processes. As a result, companies lose qualified candidates and suffer reputational degradation of their employment brands. There are best practices that should be followed, regardless of the demographics of a candidate. Still, careless mistakes are made regularly. Some of the most common exhibited by the application process include:

A Process That Is Too Lengthy

The best online applications take under five minutes to complete. Consider the minimum level of information you need from a candidate in the screening phase and ask for just that– don’t get greedy. Also, invest in the technical resources needed to develop an intuitive, world-class user interface.

Uninspired Engagement

Application confirmation emails and confirmation pages need to be more than an auto-reply to candidates of the receipt of a resume. Instead, they should be used to provide clear next steps to continue selling the company culture and to promote the company’s social talent communities and additional jobs that may interest the candidate.

Underutilized Technology

Most applicant tracking systems offer “social applies,” which allow candidates to pre-populate information from an array of social media channels. Almost all ATS platforms also enable media-rich and dynamic communications. Many companies fail to activate the advanced features of their ATSs.

So, How Can Job Seekers Avoid Getting Sucked into the Resume Black Hole?

First, have someone proofread your resume. Sometimes, it can be something as insignificant as a typo that turns off an employer. Next, keep your resume simple. Avoid graphics and logos and other things that may affect how an ATS reads your resume. Finally, research the company’s hiring process. Some companies update their career pages to inform applicants of specific insights into the interview process. For example, an employer may alert you when a recruiter has reviewed your resume for the first time. Thorough research can help you properly prepare to avoid the resume black hole.

By Joshua Bjerke