Recently I stumbled across a Reddit post asking Hiring managers what the secrets are of online job applications. Having interviewed and hired several people in the past I thought I knew it all, I was wrong!

I sent the original Reddit post to a friend, later I got an e-mail from her implying that it was a little difficult follow. I think for people that are not use to reading forums trying to understand what is important and what is not can be a little daunting. Therefore, I decided to highlight some of the major components. I hope this will help.

The Boolean search

Your resume damn well better come up under the Boolean search the human resource department is running on the submitted resumes.What does this mean: This means that if you are applying online most companies will just run a search for keywords within your resume. They will not look at the format, text, or qualifications that are listed in your resume. This means you better have a very specific keyword in your resume that matches what some engineer / manager is looking for.

How to do this:
Look closely at the job application very closely. If the application says they are looking for someone with Microsoft word experience, don’t put “Microsoft products”, “MS Word”; put “Microsoft word” in your resume.

The Quiz

Many companies and government employers are now requiring everyone to take an online quiz. For a long time this quiz was only given by retail stores, now it is everywhere. The same rules apply to these quizzes even if a PhD with 10 years experiences is taking them or a college student. 50 questions asking your opinion on several things but mostly the questions are ethical. In these quizzes you can often mark between “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree”. The untold secret is that the employer does not want YOUR answers; they want to see if you know the right answers, and they scored you accordingly. Often the only correct answers are “Strongly Disagree” or “Strongly Agree” nothing in-between the two counts.

80%-100% – Your resume gets passed to the engineer or manager.
60%-79% – If there are not enough people applying you might get your resume passed on to the engineer or manager.

Anything less most companies will put your resume in the “save for later” pile, meaning that you will never get called. It is insane how much weight is put on these superficial quizzes. I know in places like school districts that employ the “quiz” even if you are the best teacher in the world you will not get a call back if you don’t answer the questions correct, not truthfully.

Someone on Reddit gave this story:
I got turned down for a promotion at my last job, because I told them the truth during an interview process. The question was “if you would treat your best friend differently than a total stranger at work for any reason” I was the only person who answered “yes” to a question, and when I asked them if they believe those people who said “no”, they said of course not, but the right answer is “no”. I had the best qualifications, longest time with the company, but was instantly disqualified because I told the truth. We all know everyone would (treat their best friend differently), but admitting you would instantly disqualified you, and liars get promoted. Wonderful system.

Find someone you know at the company:

1) If you know anyone at the company you’re applying to, have them submit your resume for you. The first choice resumes are always submitted by people in the company.

2) Try to find someone on a site like LinkedIn, e-mail them your resume. Often if you get hired the company will give that person a bonus, so they have incentive to get you in the door.

Don’t know anyone at the company:
1) Submit your resume often. The more you submit it the higher the likelihood someone will see it. When I was hiring people I often would pick the top 10 from my e-mail and look through those, even though I had received 100’s. No keyword search, just the top 10 that last submitted.

2) If you don’t know anyone, make sure your resume is top notch. While the recruiters or HR may read your resume closely, the hiring team is typically super busy and doesn’t have a lot of time to read through filler text. Keep your resume sharp, to the point, and use bullet points or short sentences for your job descriptions.

What should be on the “resume?”

You don’t need it.

Job duties and descriptions:
1 to 2 sentence description of the job itself and your general role / responsibilities

Bullet how you accomplished your duties: use tangible activities “Project lead for xxxx initiative doing BLANK, project resulted in xxx% increase in IMPORTANT STAT”

Don’t put the year you graduated: Employers in the US can’t legally ask your age and even though they are not suppose to managers often decimate based on your age. Try to make your age as ambiguous as possible throughout your resume.

List your school and your major(s). Make sure to separate bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorates in order of most recent on top. Education should be towards the bottom of the page.

List anything philanthropic, business societies or leader positions (but only if you actually do something). If able list 2 lines of extracurricular it will be something you can talk up in an interview. If you are just putting it there to look nice, don’t do it.

Cover letter:
This is optional unless requested! If you are applying directly via email or through a reference you should treat the email content as a cover letter.

These can be extremely important! You should have a 1 page list of all your references ready. They should be separated by professional and personal. Typically three to four professional and one to two personal.

The references should be listed as follows: Name – title – Company Contact information – Sentence about your relationship and work you have done together.

Is always negotiable. Even if the application requests an amount, make sure “Negotiable” is somewhere.

Be professional:
Most people do not want to hire the person whose email address is, it may say nothing about you but it might too.

If possible have a personalized domain with e-mail and website that says something about you.

Online application:

If you apply online try to call the HR department or someone at the company it greatly increase your chances of someone seeing your resume.

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