Companies Must Find Solution to Resume Overload

Susan Hall

For all the online job sites, professional social-networking sites and buzz about social recruiting, companies still have a heck of a time finding the right job candidates-largely because they're drowning in resumes. Meanwhile, for many job seekers, applying online is the equivalent of sending your resume into a black hole.


In his post, "In Defense of Recruiters" at Kavaliro Staffing Services, Pete Cochrane wrote:

While sites today make it easier to find talent, they unfortunately have reduced candidates' profiles and accomplishments to buzzwords and keywords. Hiring managers and recruiters may not find the best match, but at least they can find a poor match instantly.

Or as John Hazard wrote at ZDNet:

Finding qualified candidates is now like finding a specific needle in a stack of slightly different needles.

He cites a survey by TalentDrive in which 45 percent of recruiters at Fortune 1000 companies said their biggest challenge is "efficiently filtering through resumes." TalentDrive makes a resume-filtering system, though, which means it has a huge stake in this.


According to this article in The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, companies are reducing the number of online job boards on which they list positions and instead sticking with professional sites such as LinkedIn to get better candidates. It says the big players among the online boards acknowledge they have to do more to keep customers happy. It says Monster plans to roll out technology that ranks candidates based on how closely they fit the requirements in the job opening. LinkedIn just this month also rolled out a tool that lets you search for people with a specific skill.


Hazard points to two trends contributing to the problem:


  • In the down economy, there are thousands of new job-seekers and online job boards that make it easier than ever to find and almost instantly apply for open positions. I know when I was unemployed, I'd apply for anything for which I was remotely qualified. (Often it was really remotely.)
  • Resume-filtering technology really doesn't work that well. This post lists some of the limitations, but a big one seems to be that it's hard for recruiters to find good candidates within the company's internal database. Often, it points out, it's easier to find someone on sites such as LinkedIn, CareerBuilder or Dice that have better search capabilities.


At the same time, Hazard says many tech employers have become much more specific about the skills they're seeking. My colleague Ann All wrote about that, suggesting employers are just too picky. Hazard writes:

Recruiters call it the purple squirrel syndrome. In the past it was enough to find a purple squirrel to fill an opening for a purple squirrel, but, because the recession made so many purple squirrels available, hiring managers now ask for a purple squirrel with size-9 shoes with white shoelaces and seven years' experience with size-9 shoes and 4 years' experience using white shoelaces in emerging markets.

Obviously, companies have to do a better job of sifting through their mounds of applications, for as the Journal article notes, those applicants might also be your customers and their dissatisfaction could hit you in the pocketbook.

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