Fraley Jr., distance learning manager for Kelly Scientific Resources
(the second part of this paper deals with Optimizing
Your Job Interview)
OK, I know you
are proud of your achievements, and you have every right to be. However,
the HR Manager really doesn't care.
about it. You see a job listed in a popular science or research journal
and you think, "Hey! I really like the sound of that job. I think I'll
send my resume to them." You dust it off, add the last job or two to the
list, append the bibliography with the last few papers or seminars you
have given, and write a killer cover letter explaining why you are interested
in the position. You then mail it within a couple of weeks of reading the
announcement, and anxiously wait for the phone to ring. Sound familiar?
Are you still waiting for the phone to ring? Did you even get a computer-generated
up folks: Here is how the hiring process really works a lot of the time:
Manager finally becomes so fed up with being one or more headcount short
that senior management gives in and approves an extra lab position. Human
Resources (HR; a group that typically has a limited understanding of the
scientific field) allows the Lab Manager, (who typically has a limited
grasp of HR functions) to write the position description for the ad. HR
then adds the obligatory HR copy to the bottom of the ad.
gets placed in the local newspaper and in the Lab Manager's favorite journal.
Resumes are sent either a) directly to the Lab Manager or b) to a general
PO Box routed to a HR reviewer. This depends on how uncomfortable HR is
in dealing with the lab or how automated the resume-management process
A—HR lets the lab do most of the hiring.
In this scenario,
all resumes are sent to the Lab Manager—all 600 of them. The Lab Manager,
pleased with the great response and used to reading rather boring material,
gets started reading the resumes and cover letters. About 20 or 30 resumes
later, the Lab Manager realizes that the lab is still short on personnel
and work still needs to get done. The Lab Manager then starts skimming.
Sixty or so resumes later, the Lab Manager comes to a new realization—there
is not enough time to read through all of the replies.
Manager then instructs the administrative assistant to review the resumes
based on a few simple criteria (two to four primary keywords or functions)
to filter them into a manageable number. The filtering process is simple:
Two piles are made. One has the words the boss requested and the other
doesn’t. (The rejected resumes are filed within the HR department for six
months.) Six hundred resumes now become about 15. These are then carefully
read and 10 are disqualified. The remaining five are shared with internal
colleagues to get their opinions. Three are flown in for interviews. While
working on filling the position, the Lab Manager hires a temporary scientist
to get the work done. Total elapsed time: Two to four months.
B—HR controls everything.
In this scenario,
all resumes are routed to the central resume repository where the Optical
Character Recognition system converts the resume into a form suitable for
the master resume management system. HR then e-mails the Lab Manager a
note to tell him or her that resumes have been received and are available
for searching within the system. The Lab Manager does keyword searches
for the candidates that might fit the bill. After a couple of hours of
searching and guessing, a few resumes are printed and shared with colleagues
for their opinions.
people are identified and submitted to HR for consideration as candidates
for fly-in interviews. After prompt disqualification by HR, three more
candidates are identified. HR also disqualifies these. Finally, the Lab
Manager gets completely frustrated and obtains a referral from a senior
manager or a third-party executive search firm. HR accepts the new recommendation
and authorizes a second interview with the Lab Manager. While working on
filling the position, the Lab Manager hires a temporary scientist to get
the work done. Total elapsed time: Two to six months.
A local resume is submitted. If local candidates are available, their resumes
float to the top of the list. HR will put more pressure on the Lab Manager
to consider these candidate. Relocation expenses are incredibly high and,
as a manager, limiting relocation expenses shows fiscal responsibility,
The Lab Manager hires the temporary scientist who has been doing the job
anyway. Over half of the scientists placed by Kelly Scientific Resources
are hired by companies that first employed them as temporary help.
either of the processes is true, what are the odds that a hiring manager
will carefully review your resume? Unless you are fast in your response
or you are local, probably not very good. To make matters even more depressing,
word-of-mouth referrals rather than ad responses fill over 70% of jobs
you do to maximize your odds of being flown in to interview? Move next
door to the company, or at least get your mail forwarded from someone who
lives nearby. Seriously though, one common factor in both of the above
scenarios is keywords. You must make sure that your resume, not your cover
letter, contains the most likely search criteria used by the hiring manager.
these criteria, you must rewrite your resume for every single job you wish
to pursue. Does that sound like a lot of extra work? It is. You should
position yourself as the obvious candidate and display your experiences
in a historical perspective so that it reads like your every career decision
has been made in order to get this very job.
best thing you can do, however, is to get to know someone who works at
the company. Find out what is required for the job and express interest
in working at the company. You then become a candidate for internal referral,
making you part of the other 70% of the candidate pool.
seven basic resume tips:
12-point Arial font (this is easy to read). Limit your resume to two pages.
that the first seven seconds of reading are the most critical.
a section called Professional Qualifications at the top of your resume.
Use a bulleted format to list the top three to five reasons that you are
perfect for the job, using as many of their words as possible to do it.
your resume to suit the automated HR systems that many companies use.
all of your key cover letter information in the resume itself.
keywords that are actually used in the job advertisement.
sure that this is a job you really want before you go through any of this
is a piece of marketing material. It's sole purpose is to get you an interview
where you can speak with the decision-maker. Keep that in mind the next
time you apply for a job.
send comments or questions to columnist Norman Fraley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Managing editor Laura Vandendorpe can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.