The Truth about Filling Jobs

A survey shows many Greensboro employers had trouble filling jobs.

Many candidates who are passively and actively job seeking have openly talked to me in the past about their frustrations with the interview process. They often want to know: why a job opening stays open for months at a time; why their application status seems to be at a stand-still; why their interviews are spread out over weeks at a time; why there seems to be no conclusion or status update after the interview process; and much more. I’ve been a job seeker before so I can understand how frustrating it can be to have unresolved answers about an application. However, I have worked HR roles and am currently recruiting so I understand the typical job-filling timeline.

Job openings aren’t always open right away. Additionally, some jobs call for a rigorous interview process that can sometimes make the application/interview process seem to drag on forever. The facts below can help job seekers understand why processes are the way they are:

  • Jobs aren’t always readily available: Sometimes companies post job openings because they are preparing for a change in their workforce. Maybe someone is taking a new position and the ramp up time will take several weeks, maybe someone is retiring/quitting and isn’t leaving for another few months. Perhaps a department is planning on expanding in the near future. The point is the job won’t be filled tomorrow. Recruiters have the time to interview a large amount of eligible candidates and will make the decision closer to the time the job will open. Therefore, the job will be open, just not right away.
  • Recruiters create candidate pools: Sometimes, positions aren’t even open. However, to prepare for future ramp ups, recruiters will source for qualified candidates, interview them to ensure that they are qualified, and will keep them in their recruiting systems so they can easily keep track and contact candidates when (or if) the position does become available. This means that you could have interviewed for a position that may take several months to open, or it may never open.
  • Some interview processes can be long and tedious: Most job seekers are used to the typical interview loop of two interviews. However, some companies are implementing new interview processes which could include various interviews with different departments or team members to see if there is a cultural fit, or “shadow days” where the candidate gets to spend half a day in the position to see if it’s a candidate/job fit. These extra interview processes can double or even triple the typical interview timeline.

With that being said, I feel that candidates (whether they are jobless or currently employed) should spend time networking with recruiters for positions and companies that might be of interest to them. This can keep candidates ahead of the game if there ever comes a time that they lose a job or are ready for a new venture. Candidate’s job seeking efforts could be compromised if they are dealing with financial strain and stress. It’s best to network and interview when that pressure is off to ensure they are making good choices. Additionally, since these processes can take several weeks or months, it would be good to get a head start, especially in this economy where anything can unexpectedly happen.

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Formatting Your Resume to Work with ATS and TAS

To help recruiters manage the overwhelming amount of resumes they receive, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and Talent Acquisition Systems (TAS) are being utilized more frequently. Although this technology is a phenomenal tool in helping recruiters make their workload more manageable, these tools can sometimes accidentally weed out candidates that are qualified for the job opening. This issue can cause candidates to wonder why they weren’t good enough for a position when in reality; their resume may have been screened out and was never seen by a recruiter in the first place. It has been determined that this accidental screening-out of resumes is simply caused by resume formatting that isn’t compatible with the ATS and TAS software. In order to increase chances of having your resume getting through this screening, you must format your resume properly.

After speaking to a few IT professionals that deal with these systems, I was able to compile a few tips on how to format your resume in a favorable way:

  • Save it in a format that allows editable text: For example, Word documents may be the best format to save it in. Other formats, such as a PDF, can make it hard for the ATS/TAS system to pull information from it. Additionally, sometimes recruiters need to adjust some things on your resume (i.e. grammatical errors) before passing it along to the hiring manager. Therefore, editable versions of your resume would be best to submit.
  • Do not use templates: different word processor software and career sites have resume templates created for your convenience. This is a great way to learn how to lay out your resume in a clean, easy-to-read format but using the template can actually cause issues during the screening process. The pre-formatting of these templates are not easily readable by the software, so it’s best to only use the template for ideas on how to lay it out (but don’t actually use them).
  • Keep it clean: As mentioned before, do not use the templates but ensure that your “free-hand” format is clean. Make sure you break up your sections, such as education and work experience, in a clean and easy-to-read way. Be sure to label them accordingly.
  • Use keywords: One of the biggest screening criteria for these tools is the keyword optimization. ATS and TAS will compare your resume against the job description to see how relevant your experience is. Take the time to review the job description and tweak some of your verbiage to match what the description has. This can help create a higher percentage for candidate/job match.

Seeing that more companies and job boards are using ATS and TAS, it may be in your best interest to reformat your resume to work best in your favor. These little tips can really make all the difference. Additionally, it can help your job search by ensuring you aren’t wrongfully screened out for a job that you are qualified for due to a format that is unreadable by the systems.

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