Understanding how new technology sorts resumes

February 23, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in Finding internships | 1 Comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

The Wall Street Journal recently had 2 articles in the Marketplace section on how companies manage the huge volume of resumes sent to them.  Google Inc., which hired about 7,000 people in 2011 after receiving some 2 million resumes, says the resumes were individually read by hundreds of recruiters. However, the major trend is utilizing technology systems to sift through applications and resumes for both internships and permanent employment.

Here’s what you and your students could expect in the future at more and more companies:

  • Technology systems:  The new applicant-tracking systems to search resumes for the right skills and experience cost from $5,000 to millions of dollars. One expert from IBM puts the proportion of large companies using them in the high 90% range, saying “it would be very rare to find a Fortune 500 company without one.”  The systems screen out about half of all resumes, according to a management professor in California. Both Starbucks Corp. and Procter and Gamble use the system to handle the deluge. Starbucks Corp. attracted 7.6 million job applications in the past 12 months for 65,000 openings. Procter and Gamble Inc. got nearly a million applications in 2011 for 2,000 positions.
  • How they work:  Today’s systems are programmed to scan for keywords, former employers, years of experience and schools attended to identify candidates of likely interest. Then, they rank the applicants. Those with low scores generally don’t make it to the next round. The screening systems cut the cost of hiring a new employee, which now averages $3,479. But tracking software has its pitfalls. It may miss the most-qualified applicant if that person doesn’t game the system by larding his or her resume with keywords from the job description. Experts say that the best method of getting a job still remains a referral from a company employee.
  • Company practices:  A restaurant operator with 350 locations, Texas Roadhouse plans to adopt a tracking system this year to handle the flow of applications for hourly jobs. The company gets as many as 400 resumes for a job opening within 24 hours after listing it online. The company used to hand-write a postcard to every applicant, but now the company sends an automated email. Allowing applicants to check the status of their resumes online is another major trend. At PNC Financial Services Group, which has used tracking software for 15 years, an applicant for a bank-teller job is filtered out if his resume doesn’t indicate that he has 2 to 3 years of cash-handling experience. PNC email rejected applicants within a day, suggesting they search its website for jobs for which they are better qualified.

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