Everyone talks about getting the resume to the decision-maker. Prior to the hiring decision, though, other decisions have to be made. The first concern should be the decision made by the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is the person doing the resume screening, either an administrative assistant or perhaps a recruiter. If your resume doesn’t pass their scrutiny, it will never make it to the decision-maker. A resume has to pass two tests, not just one.
Let’s examine the first person, and ultimately the most important person – the gatekeeper. This person is someone who has been given the task of searching Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) or online resume databases for a certain set of keywords that match qualification requirements for candidates. Depending on if it’s a traditional employer or a recruiting firm, it may be an administrative assistant or it may be the recruiter.
The gatekeeper is looking first for keywords so it’s important that the resume have the correct industry buzzwords so the search technology will pick it up. Next the resume has to be viewed. A search on Monster’s database on a single keyword may bring up literally thousands of resumes; therefore, the gatekeeper narrows the search by using Boolean search techniques and stringing together several keywords. Candidates must have all the keywords to be “caught” by the system. The gatekeeper has now narrowed the pool to several hundred.
The next step is to sort the pool. Usually, the sort is done by hit counts or by how recent the resume was uploaded. Once caught, the resume has to pass the 45-second human-eye visual skim by the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is influenced by initial appearance first of all (after all, he/she IS a human and we all like things that look neat and professional). Next, the gatekeeper glances at location of the candidate (especially if searching for local candidates). The summary is read first and then the rest of the resume gets a fast glance with job titles, years, special skills and education all getting attention.
It is now decision time. If the resume has what it takes – all the right factors and is persuasive in that 45 seconds – the gatekeeper will place it in the “consider pile”. The field narrows. At this point the road may fork and the entire consider pile goes up the ladder a step or the gatekeeper goes back and refines and narrows the field further with more careful study of the resumes in the “consider pile”.
A contingency recruiter usually is asked to present three to five candidates to the employer for consideration so the recruiter starts making screening phone calls. Many candidates dismiss these “screening calls” as non-interviews but look how far you’ve gotten to make it to the screening call! That call from the recruiter is pivotal and should be afforded ample preparation and treated as the first interview.
Once you get past the gatekeeper, you move on to the other key person in the process – the hiring manager. This person or persons (the decision may well be a group consensus) will interview selected candidates. Generally, the interview process involves several meetings or subsequent interviews to narrow the field. Then the final decision is made on which candidate gets the offer.
This is a long process and many candidates do not understand the time involved. The hiring process can actually take several weeks. Throughout the entire process, the resume has to be doing its job – selling you, the job seeker. That is a big order! A professionally prepared resume can make the difference between making it from that sea of millions in the online database to the offer letter that arrives via FedEx.