The resume grinder?

Subject: The resume grinder?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Peter Neilson <neilson -at- alltel -dot- net>
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 09:02:14 -0500

Peter Neilson reports: <<Over the years I've used a resume format in MS Word or in vanilla text that I thought looked pretty good. About eight years ago I began to feel that HR departments at possible employers weren't exactly reading it, but instead were stupidly scanning it for buzzwords. So I raised that question with a recruiter... He said that yes, they used that method to select which ones to read.>>

I've heard tons of anecdotal evidence that this is true, and it's nice (in the Orwellian anti-sense of the word) to hear confirmation from a reputable source. In my dealings with HR/Personnel departments over the years, I've learned not to be surprised by _any_ <euphemism>wacky</euphemism> policies and practices. <overgeneralisation>For every conscientious, hardworking, humane person I've met in HR, there's been at least one manager who made Dilbert's boss look good.</overgeneralisation>

In their defense, the problem isn't entirely on their side. A typical hiring practice goes like this: Engineering Manager A, who doesn't really know anything about technical writing but who does know a few buzzwords, passes these buzzwords to HR Manager B, who further dilutes the qualifications by editing them to fit company style. Something poorly phrased and defined to begin with becomes even worse. Alternate scenario: Manager C, who does understand the job, creates a carefully thought-out list of requirements, passes them to HR Manager B, and B then runs them through the sausage grinder to produce crap.

Also in their defence, it pays to remember that in a buyer's (employer's) market, a job ad may attract 500 resumes, most of which are irrelevant to the position or produced by people who will clearly be inferior candidates. Few HR groups have the resources to read these, particulary in large companies that may have several jobs open simultaneously, so they need some way to survive the influx of paper. Automation is one such solution.

<<So for years, I guess, NOBODY has been reading resumes that I've submitted... I think the only way to get in the door now is to know somebody inside.>>

It's not necessarily true that "nobody" reads them. I got my first job (with IBM) many years ago after my resume passed through the grinder--and annoyingly, was separated from the cover letter that explained the relevance of each key item on the resume--but was unaccountably not filtered out, even though I was a B.Sc. in biology. A bored manager looking for help spotted it in the pile of scanned documents and called to ask whether I was just plain nuts or whether a biologist might really have something to offer IBM. I explained myself, had an interview an hour later, and a job by the end of the day. So you can escape the grinder with a little luck.

But it's better to avoid reliance on luck. This anecdote supports your suspicion that you need to know somebody to get in. The most effective way to get past the grinder is to make a human contact--whether by meeting an insider at an STC meeting or by researching a company until you find a real human to contact. If you can make your sales pitch to that person, you can bypass the resume grinder; managers who are hiring for a position still generally have the right to insist that HR include a given resume in the pile of final candidates.

An even better way to get your foot in the door is to do a bit of freelancing for a company before they even begin the hiring process. Some organization (particularly governments) require a formal ad in the newspaper plus competition before they hire, but others are happy to work with someone under a short contract until they're comfortable that the person is working out, then offer them a job at the end of the contract. My former employer worked this way--probably still does.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --
Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Now Shipping -- WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word! Easily create online
Help. And online anything else. Redesigned interface with a new
project-based workflow. Try it today!

Doc-To-Help 2005 now has RoboHelp Converter and HTML Source: Author content and configure Help in MS Word or any HTML editor. No proprietary editor! *August release.

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- infoinfocus -dot- com -dot-
To unsubscribe send a blank email to techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

Send administrative questions to lisa -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


The resume grinder: From: Peter Neilson

Previous by Author: The more you know, the less you know you know?
Next by Author: Callouts in Graphics?
Previous by Thread: Re: The resume grinder
Next by Thread: Re: The resume grinder?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads