I am looking for a new job but, it seems to be a complete lottery in terms of getting past the recruitment gatekeepers.

It seems that, if you ask 5 HR consultants what should be on a CV, you'll probably get 12 mutually exclusive answers. It seems for every recruitment "specialist" who claims a CV should be no more than one page long, there is another who wants a printout of your DNA sequence.

I've managed to pare mine down to two pages of A4: A page of keywords, education & recent experience and a page on (some of) the projects I've undertaken. The problem I have is that, it doesn't matter what job I apply for, I get a rejection letter saying here are candidates with a closer fit for the intended job.

As an experiment, I transcribed the job requirements for a particular position into my CV in such a way that, in order to differentiate myself from the job advertised they would have had to take my physical deformities into account. I got the much the same result though.

Unsurprisingly, this leads me to suspect a few things:

1) Most consultants don't even bother to read the CV, they just send a rejection. they may keep it on record in case one of their friends, family members or pets lets them down at the last minute;

2) The advertised job doesn't actually exist. It's just a trawling tool to collect CV's so body shops can claim to have 400,000,000 candidates on their books and inflate their desirability to employers;

3) There is no interest in the quality of personnel. It's just a tele-sales numbers game and all they want to do is dump a pile of CV's on someone's desk.

I've applied for over 100 positions, some of which I'd be perfect for yet I just keep getting rejection letters. That said, I'm absolutely confident that, were I to sit with the technical manager offering the job, I'd be able to land it.

I'm good at what I do, have a fantastic track record, an excellent post graduate degree in Software Engineering, and many, many successful projects under my belt. I just can't get past the "jobsworths" human resources gatekeepers on the front line.

Anyone got any suggestions? (short of turning up at a recruitment company office and beating one of them to death as an example to the others)

  • 1
    Don't try to apply everywhere - 100 is way too much to be specific enough. Select a few interesting ones that are as close as possible to your own skills, and then check from LinkedIn who is most likely the person that can hire you. Check what skills existing employees have, and work on them if you don't know something that most of them have. – Juha Untinen Dec 10 '14 at 14:17
  • My brother applied for roughly that many, with 2 interviews, and one firm offer, which he took. I'm at roughly 20/3, and in all three, I had some 'in' that got me past the first few stages. In some places, unfortunately 100+ applications seem... necessary. – Journeyman Geek Dec 10 '14 at 20:38

It's indeed difficult to get through the first line of defense. The first people to see your resume are indeed often junior recruiters with little technical knowledge about the field or the actual job. Things you can do include

  1. Add an customized cover letter for each job that makes a makes a compelling case why you are right for the job, that the job is right for you and your goals and that clearly shows that you have done actual research about the job and the company. Having no cover letter or a cover letter that would work for 10 other jobs is not good
  2. The cover letter should list all the requirements stated in the job description and list line item by line item how you meet (or not meet) this requirement by citing something matching from your CV. Basically that's what the gatekeepers are asked to do: check of requirements. If you do the job for them, it's easier for them, they will be in a better mood, and you can avoid interpretation errors
  3. Work around the gatekeepers. Figure out how to get directly to the hiring manager or to a senior level recruiter. Network on LinkedIn, professional associations, stack exchange, friends and family, former and current colleagues, etc.

Assuming that everything your self assessment is correct, getting 100+ rejections with no hits even just for a phone screen would be unusual. So it's possible that there is something else is going on that you are not aware of. For example

  1. Missing, bad, or too generic a cover letter
  2. Using too much "jargon" or assumptions. For example in your post you refer to "A4" paper, so you are apparently in Europe, while most on this board would have assumed you are in the US. That's relevant information
  3. There is a turn off in your CV. Bad spelling, disorganized, cluttered, hard to read, etc. Have it checked by someone who is good at this and that you trust
  4. You may come across as arrogant or not easy to work with
  5. There something funky in your internet footprint. Google yourself and see what pops up.
  • 2
    I also think there's a problem with the CV itself. Having a trusted person who isn't afraid to be brutally honest about it look it over is a great idea. – NotMe Dec 10 '14 at 14:47

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