Software technology used to screen resumes

March 19, 2009 6:50:27 AM PDT
More than four million Americans have lost their jobs during the economic crisis. As a result, hiring managers are being flooded with spruced up resumes from people looking for work. Those hiring managers are turning to software to keep from getting swamped. What does that mean to you? A new way of thinking about your job search.

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"We are doing some hiring, it's selective, for replacements," said Roger Barney, VP Finelite.

But, they still get lots of resumes for those few positions at Finelite in Union City -- a maker of commercial lighting systems. In an age of doing more work with fewer people, some businesses think that it doesn't pay to have people wade through all that paper. In the computer age, a computer can help do it.

"There's definitely patterns within resumes that allows you to pick out successful and non-successful," said Lars Dalgaard is the CEO Success Factors.

Success Factors is a San Mateo firm that makes software to track employee performance. Their suite of software also helps hiring executives sift through the hundreds or even thousands of resumes they get.

"You can have ten people tell you "you went to Harvard, so you're in good shape." It doesn't really matter if you went to Harvard. That's when everything starts after Harvard. Are you going to work hard every day?" said Dalgaard.

Companies that use resume filtering software generally plug in keywords for an initial screening; for example, financial analysis if you're looking for an accounting job, or litigation if you're searching for a legal position. More sophisticated programs also use performance and personality data on its most successful workers. The software then looks for similar traits in the resumes of new applicants. Finelite has been using success factor software for more than a year now.

"It helps us also with our talent management looking at the skills that we have available and the skills we're going to need for the future," said Barney.

So how do you get around the screening? Learn the key words for your job. One way is to find several classified ads for your position, place them side by side and look for words that appear most. Those are words you'll probably want in your resume. Also make sure your resume is as up to date as possible. The point is to get the resume past the machine and into the hands of a human.

Once you get past the screening programs, the old rules still apply -- use direct words, sell your skills, punch up your problem solving abilities. And realize that hiring managers often decide within the first five seconds to 10 seconds if your resume is worth a second look.

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