After scrutinizing every detail and tailoring your resume to fit the available position, your job application is ready. You finally get the nerve, press “apply” and wait—maybe for a few days or even months. Did the company actually receive your resume? Are there so many candidates that your application has been lost in hustle? Is someone actually reading through your cover letter and resume that you meticulously created?
Here, I’ll discuss what actually happens after you submit a job application and how to ensure that your resume makes it to the top of the pile.
After Submitting the Application
As a Recruiting Coordinator, I’m involved throughout the vetting and hiring process. In most companies, when a candidate applies, his or her resume goes to the Recruiting Coordinator, the Applicant Tracking System and the Recruiter responsible for filling the position.
While the Coordinator is typically the one who reviews resumes initially, often times, as with vcfo, the Recruiters will also be reviewing applicants to flag resumes that immediately look like a fit and to request a phone screen. It is important for candidates to review the job description carefully and cater their resumes and cover letter to reflect and highlight why they feel they are a fit for that particular position. The resumes that stand out and candidates that most closely match the criteria for the position are expedited in the process to get them in front of not only the Recruiter, but the Hiring Manager as well. The Coordinator’s role is to find and push through the best possible talent for a position. This includes candidates that apply and candidates that the Coordinator brings in. When going through applications, the Coordinator’s role is to read through each and every resume and cover letter to gauge an accurate fit for the position. This includes looking for typos, errors and anything that would disqualify the candidate from moving forward.
A candidate profile is created anytime an application comes through, including directly from the company’s website or through an external job board, like Monster or LinkedIn. If the candidate is not a good fit for the position at hand, the candidate will still be included in future searches for similar positions. The Coordinator often knows of every position that a company has open and can consider candidates for more than one role. Because of this, it is important to showcase all of your skills and abilities on a resume so that you can be considered for other roles. When a company has a new position open, the first thing that Recruiters and Coordinators do is review the active candidates and the database (ATS system). They will first begin reaching out to those who have applied previously or have already been screened. The next step would be to start looking for new talent.
Typically after applying, you will get an email to inform you that your information was received and is being reviewed. You should not expect to hear anything further unless you are a fit for the position and are being moved forward in the process. After the position is filled, you will sometimes receive a notice.
How to Stand Out
On average, Recruiters and Coordinators read through approximately 250-500 resumes a week, sometimes up to 1,000 based on the position, industry and company size. That is a lot of opportunity to get missed, making keywords very important. Most resume databases use Boolean Logic to search for specific skill sets and experience, which means the more matching keywords in your resume, the higher the match to shoot you to the top of the search results.
I suggest being very detailed in describing the responsibilities for each role you’ve held. Try to repeat keywords, such as accounts receivable, reconciliations, mergers and acquisitions, social media, cost accounting or event planning. Similarly, include industry experiences (oil and gas, manufacturing, healthcare) and systems experience (QuickBooks, SAS, Taleo, Adobe Creative Suite). Keep in mind that some applicant tracking systems will automatically rank or classify candidates; however, some companies still review, rank and classify each candidate manually. If you don’t list a skill, i.e. payroll under job duties, the Recruiter will assume that you do not have it or move on to a candidate that they know does have that experience. It is also a great idea to list company size and industry in your work experience.
Nowadays, less than 20 percent of candidates who submit applications attach a cover letter. The trend seems to be resume introductions and headers that highlight important, high-level information. It may be a lost art, but a cover letter can help candidates stand out, particularly if the resume doesn’t provide strong evidence of specific skills or job experience required for a role. It also shows the Recruiter or Hiring Manager that you took time to read the job description and that you are interested in their specific position, instead of just sending out generic resumes to any position you find. Cover letters can help explain a lapse in work experience or relocation plans. For example, a candidate who is new to or returning to a role can utilize the cover letter to explain the reasoning behind the time off or the career change.
Once you have submitted an application, it can be a great idea to call and check on your employment status. Most of the time, the Coordinator or Recruiter will not have time for a phone interview when you call, but they will be prompted to pull up your resume to log the call or to take a look at your experience. This can bring your name to the top of the list. Especially with recruiting firms, it is a good idea to check in periodically and let them know you are still on the market. This helps keep your name fresh on our minds.
It can also help to ask for feedback after the role is filled. Again, the Coordinator or Recruiter may not be able to respond, but many times they will give you tips for writing a better resume, skills to brush up on or other positions to apply for.
So next time you’re about to apply for a position, make sure your resume and cover letter reflect the job position you’re interested in by incorporating the job posting’s keywords. If you’re truly a fit for the position, your application should make it through to the next phase of the hiring process—the initial phone interview. And even if you’re not selected, rest assured that many hiring firms and agencies will keep your information on file and revert back to prior applicants when searching for new positions, so you may just get a call out of the blue for an even better role!