How To Avoid The Resume Black Hole

It’s hardly news that everyone in the job market needs help in order to land a job or land better candidates. One thing that’s often blamed for the dysfunctional job market is the ATS or Applicant Tracking System. It’s a popular viewpoint amongst recruiters and job seekers that this leads to what’s called “The Resume Black Hole” i.e. you submit your resume into a system where it’s never to be heard from again except maybe for a few auto-generated messages that eventually leads to a rejection. This leads to frustration for many job seekers especially those that spend a long time crafting customized resumes and cover letters. All that work for nothing and instead this causes job seekers to mass produce generic applications in the hope that there is strength in numbers. The problem is that even if the resume then makes it through to the other side of the black hole it’s being discarded for being too generic. You just can win right? Well, it doesn’t have to be this complicated but companies need to realize that they play a part in this too.

What if companies published how their ATS works?

Now there are many tips and tricks for how to avoid the resume black hole but all of this extra work could to some extent be avoided if companies were just open and transparent about how their ATS works. Let’s say a company publishes all the criteria their ATS uses to select resumes going to HR. Then applicants would know exactly what they need to focus on instead of guessing the magic code. The counter-argument could be that then the purpose of the ATS would be voided i.e. now all applicants would get through to HR. I beg the difference as no candidate can or should lie on their resume hence really the only thing they can do is to take the content and repackage it to a format that fits the ATS criteria. If that means including a few different keywords than if the candidate didn’t know the selection criteria what’s the harm in that as long as the candidate can back up those keywords? Now all candidates (who make the efforts) will get through the black hole and it is win-win for everyone. Job seekers become less frustrated as they now get their application through to the company for jobs where they are indeed qualified and companies should be able to see more proper candidates.

Just give people a map and they will find their way

So it’s actually not about avoid the black hole but rather having someone give you a map that shows you how you can steer through or maybe since we are dealing with black holes steer clear of it. It’s time for companies to become more transparent about their hiring procedures to fix the dysfunctional job market but naturally applicants still need to make an effort in reading the job description and being honest to themselves if they are actually a good fit for the job. However, I think if they know they can get through the ATS with quality applications they will put more time and efforts into the ones that really matters. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider all the tricks to bypass the ATS altogether but only that the straight forward road to have your application seen by human eyes now becomes more open.

Do you think this would make a difference to job seekers? Have you found ways of bypassing the ATS? If we can indeed fix the job market it will reduce so much waste for everyone involved but someone has to take the first step and I believe it’s the companies that should publish their hiring procedures in full.