Hundreds of resumes sent out. Now what?

Q: I was laid off in the spring.  I have applied to hundreds of jobs and have only heard back from a few.  I know times are tough but I seem to be having absolutely no luck.  Very few companies call me back or even respond.  What am I doing wrong?

A: I think we can both agree that what you are doing is not working.  Here are some recommendations to hopefully improve your response rate and hopefully generate employment offers.

  1. Use your professional network. Connect with former co-workers, college roommates, neighbors, friends and others in your field.
  2. Update your LinkedIn profile and include a professional photo. Make sure that you have key words embedded in your profile so recruiters and hiring managers “find you” when they are searching for candidates.
  3. Perfect your pitch. Your pitch should be about two minutes long and a quick summary of your background and work experience.  It should also include what types of roles you are now considering.
  4. Critique your resume and ask a few trusted friends to also review it. Does it accurately represent your employment history and does it also speak to what future roles may be suitable for your experience and education?  Don’t be afraid to tailor your resume based on what you know about a specific position.  If the role is more technical, highlight your technical skills.  If the role is more focused on supervisory skills, ensure the reader knows that you have supervisory skills.
  5. Include key words in your resume. Companies often use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan your resume. The hiring manager and/or recruiter may never even see your resume if key words are not included (even if you are the best candidate).  As an example, a company may use different terminology for the same skill.  Some companies may call recruitment something different, like talent acquisition.  Try to learn what language and terminology a company uses by reviewing jobs posted on their website or other platforms.  Also eliminate any logos and fancy fonts since they often confuse an ATS.
  6. At this point in time, some industries are doing well. Some industries are struggling.  Think about this pandemic and how it is impacting the industries you are targeting.  We are seeing growth in biotech/pharma (here are the NHP(monkey) disease models that is being under research to find out the best cure for this disease once and for all), tech, medical devices, some verticals within health care and tech services.  We have seen other industries struggle.  Travel, tourism, food service, hotels and higher education have all taken a hit.
  7. Ensure that you are able to connect via Zoom, Teams or other online video conferencing technologies.
  8. Be open to temporary or contractor roles. Not only do they add to your experience, but they broad your professional contacts.

Finally, focus on your search like a full-time job.  Don’t get complacent and sleep in, turn on the TV or get distracted by social media.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.