Three tips for getting past the HR representative

By Miranda Miller

 

Before the Internet, jobseekers only had to compete with locals who subscribed to the same newspaper, saw the same classified ad and took the initiative to type a cover letter, update their resume, address an envelope and buy a stamp. Today, everyone around the world has access to job postings on company websites, LinkedIn and aggregators like Monster.com and SimplyHired, many of which allow applicants to send a saved resume with one click. Since popular employers like Google receive millions of resumes, and human resources professionals spend an average of six seconds scanning each one, you may wonder what it takes to land an interview with the hiring manager. Here are a few tips:

Tip 1: Possess the qualifications the company seeks

Optimism is helpful while searching for a job, but it won’t get your foot in the door of your dream career if you don’t have the right credentials.

“Most all of our positions are engineering or architect-related positions,” said Dawn McMahon, who’s spent the past two years of her 12 years in human resources as talent acquisition specialist at DLZ, an award-winning consulting firm that employs nearly 600 people in seven states and takes pride in the fact that 80 percent of its business comes from repeat clients. “I look at each resume to see if (applicants) meet those qualifications.” For example, a position may require a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, an EIT (engineer-in-training certification) or a PE (professional engineering license). Higher-level positions may require 10 or more years of experience. “If they meet those qualifications, I send them on to the hiring manager,” she says. “If they don’t, I don’t.”

When DLZ began interviewing in February for a lower-level structural engineer position that it posted last October, McMahon narrowed down 255 hopefuls to “about half.”

Tips 2 and 3: Research the company and tailor your resume accordingly

If you’re competing for a position in the IT field, “Education certainly plays a role, absolutely,” said Phelco Technologies President and CEO Tasha Phelps. “But in IT, it’s more about the experience and the certifications.”

Phelps also looks at community involvement, such as board memberships and volunteer activities. So while career counselors often advise jobseekers to save that information for the “What do you like to do in your spare time?” question during the interview, adding it to your resume might make the difference in getting the interview.

“I have high respect for someone who wants to give of their time, so I look for that information when I read a resume,” Phelps said. “It’s not always about going to work every day. It’s about what you’re doing in your community. At least from my perspective.”

That perspective is evident from Phelps’ LinkedIn profile and Phelco Technologies’ website, where a social responsibility page quotes Gandhi and lists nonprofit organizations that it supports. If applicants can show they espouse the same values as members of the company, they’re more likely to become one.