The Modern Job Hunt: Resume Banks and Job Boards, Keywords and Black Holes

When conducting a modern job, search the terms “Job Board” and “Resume Bank” are ubiquitous. Yet what exactly are they and how do they work? Knowing the answer and how to make them work for you could mean the difference between landing that interview and remaining stuck in the purgatory of an unending job search.

Resume Banks vs. Job Boards:

A resume bank is a database that houses individual resumes in one place to allow for easy searching by potential employers. Individuals submit their resumes to the database and if a job comes along that matches the information in a particular resume, then that person will be contacted.   As a job seeker, it is typically in your best interest to be as comprehensive as possible with your resume here. The more information you include the greater the chance you will be identified by someone looking through the database.

A job board on the other hand is simply a place for employers to post openings. Think of them like virtual billboards that give you information and point you in the right direction. They include a description of the opening, plus a link to a company’s website so you can apply. The benefit of using a job board is that you have the ability to see exactly what type of criteria the hiring manager is looking for. Utilizing specific keywords used in the individual job posting to tailor your resume and accompanying documents is vital.

What happens when you submit a copy of your resume to a job posting? Why does it seem to always end up in a black hole? How can you beat the system and make yourself stand out?

Keep in mind that every hiring manager filters all applications in order to identify the best candidates before they even see an individual resume. This filtering is done using software that is able to scan individual resumes for specific keywords. For example, say an employer is looking for someone with experience working with non-profits that specialize in global development. In order to identify qualified candidates the hiring manager will have the program search all submitted resumes to find one that lists the words “non-profit” and “global development.” The problem is these programs think like a computer not like a human. They only look for the exact words they are told to find. There is no room for variations like “charitable” or “international development” to be identified. The program can’t tell the difference.

You may have exactly the qualifications and background they are looking for, but without those specific keywords you get lost in the black hole of rejected applications. So what’s the answer? Try to look at the posting the way the hiring official does. Make a list of the terms for the qualifications and requirements they used in the posting and then include them in your resume. The more terms you can include, the more likely you will be identified by the programs, and the more likely you will come to the attention of the hiring official.

Always keep in mind that in today’s world of human resources the computer is the gatekeeper. If you can get past that filtering then you’ve got a chance to have your application looked at by a real person.  Knowing how the system works gives you an edge. So good luck and don’t give up. Your new job is waiting for you.