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10 Reasons why relying only on Resume Applications is a poor Job Hunting Strategy

Not understanding this is what holds you back in your job search

7 min readJan 25, 2023

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TLDR

  1. A better resume writer wins the application game. Not necessarily the best candidate. Are you confident in your resume writing skills?
  2. Things that make you a top performer can’t be found on the resume. Your character. Your discipline. Your communication.
  3. The probability of getting seen is reversely proportional to the number of people applying for the same job.
  4. If you applied first, you are at the bottom of the pile. Are you confident you will get seen?
  5. The best-in-class recruiters can close the role with 1 submission. What are the implications for you?
  6. Recruiters prioritize sourcing over resume screening. Are you discoverable? Would they like what they will find?
  7. Recruiter’s attention will go where it is being pulled. Are you pulling it?
  8. If you only apply with your resume alone, the hidden job market is inaccessible to you. The hidden job market is when the HM knows they need to hire but the role is not yet posted.
  9. If you only apply with your resume alone, you miss out on the opportunities to skip the phone interview step of the process.
  10. Applying with your resume alone is a passive stance. You miss out on the opportunity to communicate the things that recruiters are looking for: being hungry, being proactive, taking initiative.
  11. Bonus :)

I get a lot of questions from candidates about what are the myths in the industry that have to be dismantled.

One of the most common misconceptions is utilizing online resume applications as the only Job Hunting strategy.

Here is a list of 10 reasons why this is not an effective approach.

Reason 1. Your Success is a function of your resume writing skills.

Imagine there is you and there is a candidate with a similar skill set but better resume writing skills. Not necessarily the most driven, not the most personable, not the hungriest, or the grittiest. Just a better resume writer. Who is going to win? The answer is obvious.

When you are leaning only on resume applications you are at mercy of your resume writing skills.

Are you confident in your ability to write persuasively?

If you are sending resumes and you are not getting calls back, you know the answer to that question.

Reason 2. The things that make someone a top performer can’t be found on the resume.

How do we hire? What is the Talent Formula? 🧪

I will share a recruiter’s perspective. Here are the things that we are looking for:

  • Hungry, Humble, Smart i.e. High Energy, High Integrity, High Intelligence
  • GSD mentality (being able to get 💩 done with minimum context, and resourcefulness)
  • Ownership mentality (acting like an owner, owning your function)
  • Growth mindset (craftsman’s mindset, kaizen mindset, systems thinking, adaptability)
  • Communication skills (clear and organized communication = clear and organized mind)
  • Being a Culture Amplifier (we do not look for culture fit, we don’t need conformity, we need someone who can strengthen the company DNA i.e. become a bar-raiser and elevate the game of others)

All these things can’t be found on the resume.

The moment you start talking your resume becomes irrelevant.

3. The probability of getting seen is reversely proportional to the number of applicants.

Imagine you applied for a job and your resume is somewhere in the mix of other 300 applicants, do you think a recruiter will screen all 300 resumes in one sitting?

This is not how we work.

  • We gonna take a batch of 50. Scan them.
  • Pick 15 best. Call them.
  • Pick 5. Send them to the Hiring Manager (HM)
  • HM will pick 3. Send them to the team for a technical interview.
  • We make 1 offer.

250 people never got seen.

This brings me to the next point.

4. If you applied first, you are at the bottom of the pile.

ATS systems (at least the one I am using — Lever) will organize the applications by date. Meaning the most recent ones will show up on top.

Imagine you have applied first but the recruiter has not looked at the pipeline for 1–2 weeks. They come back. Open the ATS and see 87 applicants. In that list, you are at the bottom.

Yes, they may start looking at the resumes from the bottom but this is not the most natural thing for a recruiter to do. The most intuitive thing to do is to start looking from the top. And you already know how recruiters look at applicants. In batches.

Does it mean that you shouldn’t apply first?

Not at all. The speed matters. You want to be the first to the party. But it matters not if you arrive at the party and no one is there. You need to be seen.

5. The best-in-class recruiters can close the role with 1 submission.

Imagine you are a solid recruiter who knows his stuff. What would be your process?

Post the job. Get 300 applications. Screen 50 resumes. Pick 5 high-potential candidates. You call them all and they all prove to be amazing but you pick the best of the best. You send that one candidate to the hiring manager and you get a slack message back: “Let’s make an offer”. Boom! Slam dunk. 1 submission. 1 hire.

This happened so many times.

It is so important to know who you are playing against. A recruiter is a filter. A gatekeeper. They know the business. They know their stakeholders. They know what it takes to succeed at their company. So keep this in mind. The stronger the recruiter the fewer chances you will have.

6. Recruiters prioritize sourcing over resume screening.

Looking at applicants is not a high-impact activity for a recruiter. Why? People apply for jobs without even reading the job descriptions. So what is the probability to find a solid candidate among applicants? Practice shows that there is probably 1 candidate for every 15–20 applicants who actually has the potential to make it to the offer stage.

So what is the high-impact activity for a recruiter? Sourcing is. Obviously. We know what we are looking for (perfect candidate profile), and when we find it, we approach it.

What are the implications for you?

Be discoverable. And make sure that all your digital footprint (LinkedIn profile, content, etc) is what you want them to find.

7. Recruiters’ attention will go where it is being called.

As recruiters, we juggle a million things. We can have 20+ open jobs at a given time with multiple stakeholders to manage. Our success depends on our ability to prioritize and manage our attention.

Where do you think will our attention go? Will it go to an applicant who sent the resume and is sitting passively, waiting for a reply, OR to a candidate who applied and engages us in a conversation: “Hey! I just applied online. My resume should be in your ATS by now. I would appreciate it if you could take a look at my profile!

The chance of getting attention is much higher if you call for it.

8. If you only apply with your resume alone, the hidden job market is inaccessible to you.

If you just apply with your resume, you only compete for the jobs that are posted. The hidden job market is closed for you.

What is Hidden Job Market?

It is the situation when the Hiring Manager already knows they need to hire someone, but the role has not been yet posted or advertised. The hidden job market is in the mind of the HM.

How do you tap into that?

You have to connect and build a direct relationship.

9. If you only apply with your resume alone, you miss out on the opportunities to skip the phone interview step of the process.

If you just apply with your resume, you miss out on the opportunity to skip the steps in the process i.e. skip the Gatekeeper (TA).

  • If you are building a relationship with the team — you can get a referral.
  • If you are building a relationship directly with the HM, you have a chance to get an interview.

Of course, they can still send you to the TA team. But if your Persuasive Writing skills are strong, you may be able to intrigue them enough to get a call.

10. Applying with your resume alone is a passive stance.

You miss out on the opportunity to communicate several important things that recruiters are looking for. And what are we looking for?

  • Hunger
  • Drive
  • Taking initiative
  • Being proactive
  • We want to hire people who would see joining us as a True Opportunity
  • We them to really want the job and to be excited when they get it

Now, the question you need to ask yourself:

If you just applying with your resume, are you communicating these things?

We want to hire Ideal Team Players — Hungry, Humble, Smart. In other words, we are looking for High Intelligence, High Energy, High Integrity. Is your approach to job hunting infused with these things?

11. Bonus point

👆 These should be your criteria when you are hiring a career coach for yourself.

If you want to learn more about how to hire a coach for yourself read HERE.

Last words

I know, I know. The system is completely broken. I work in Talent Acquisition and I will be the first one to admit that. I am thinking about some potential solutions to this problem but this will take some time.

Today, I just hope this resume conundrum is a little bit less confusing for you.

Learn the rules of the game to play better.

🏀

👋 Thanks for reading!

I’m on a mission to enable 1M humans to actualize their full potential and live a Purpose-Driven Life.

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Coach | I help Servant Leaders build Unshakeable Confidence and fulfill their Life Purpose ⚙️🔝