How many versions of my resume do you need anyway?!
April 10, 2016 2:37 AM   Subscribe

Online job applications that ask for multiple versions of your work history (resume + manual entry form + LinkedIn +++): do employers actually read all the versions of your work history? Could you concentrate on just one?

I'm applying to a ton of jobs that are already very paperwork-intensive, but so many of them rely on software that wants your work history in the most painful UX interfaces ever. There's a resume that needs to be uploaded, there's the manual entry form (that doesn't always function as well as you need), sometimes there's LinkedIn integration, in one case I was given two separate forms that wanted the same information.

Do employers/HR folk actually ever read all 2-4 versions of your resume? What happens if the form is insufficient and you have to adapt (for instance, many of my jobs were on a honorarium basis, but the forms insist on a start & end salary)? Would it be OK to mainly concentrate on the PDF version, which in my case I'm already customizing for each job anyway?

If I knew that all that manual data entry was actually being read I might feel less antagonistic about the process, but instead it sometimes stops me from applying altogether, since it's taking time away that I could write on a Selection Criteria or just apply for another job that's less ornery.
posted by divabat to Work & Money (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
It's not all being read by humans, no. You put the data in a form which feeds the database for keyword matching. You also supply the same data in traditional PDF because when you match, a ton of employers out there also print out candidate CVs in a stack to manage shortlisting. LinkedIn is also used in various ways but mostly gives the company longer-term access to you.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:07 AM on April 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

The system my employer uses is as you describe and as a hiring manager, yes, I do read it all. Everyone in the hiring process at my employer does.

I like to see how a candidate presents themselves in a resume, which is where they tend to list accomplishments and show the most polished version of themselves.

The work history portion of our system includes salary details, name of supervisor and reason for leaving. When filled out completely, it fills in the gaps and conveys a sense of the candidate beyond the accomplishments and polish. Empty fields or carelessness in the information entered makes a candidate look potentially dishonest or lazy, or just that they're not serious about our position and may be applying anywhere and everywhere and aren't willing to take the extra time on our application.

I hear you about the UX of these systems--I cringe at ours--but I wouldn't neglect any aspect of the application. As a hiring manager, I want the best, fullest picture of a candidate and all those data points are an opportunity to tell us who you are.

If you have extra effort to spend? Think about putting it in a stellar cover letter. Most applicants don't seem to include them, or they're totally generic. A cover letter that shows you've done some cursory research on my organization and gives a sense of your personality--as someone I might enjoy sitting next to all week--can really distinguish one candidate from the pack.

Good luck!
posted by kittydelsol at 4:13 AM on April 10, 2016 [9 favorites]

Here's another, more succinct version of my answer-- a hiring manager might think, if a candidate is trying to cut corners at the application stage, what kind of employee will they be?

(Not that you're trying to cut corners exactly, but that's how it might appear to the people on the other side of the system.)
posted by kittydelsol at 4:20 AM on April 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

I would follow all directions as written to show that you are the kind of person who can follow all directions as written.
posted by rubster at 4:41 AM on April 10, 2016 [11 favorites]

Regrettably, at my last HR position we absolutely read it all. I was moreover once or twice tasked with taking each file from the "short" list and creating another document so that our director could more easily compare the candidates on the basis of education and experience.

The main reason we did this is because people were so bad about filling the forms in properly, or chose resume formats that obscured the timeline, or whatever. After looking at about 300 of those files I'm pretty sure the only people who filled the forms out even remotely carefully were the ones applying for finance and HR positions.

The whole thing made me hate all the resume advice services in the world.
posted by SMPA at 4:57 AM on April 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

Nthing that it's all quite important. I'm not in HR but participate in hiring for my job function at my company. While people prepping for interviews are more likely to use the actual resume, the online form was used for screening and keyword matches. For example, to screen out anyone whose GPA is below a certain threshold. We didn't emphasize Linked In as much but that's probably changing and probably varies a lot between companies.
posted by peacheater at 5:20 AM on April 10, 2016

That sounds typical for applying to larger organizations. I've done a little applying over the last year, and I'd guess that the online application stuff takes me at least two to four hours with all the reentry and reformatting required.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:57 AM on April 10, 2016

it sometimes stops me from applying altogether

This may be a feature, not a bug. The convoluted application system at my (prestigious, well-paying) company has a number of weaknesses, but it is fantastic at filtering out serial applicants in favour of those who really want to work for us. Also, as a big organisation in a field full of small players, we have lots more internal procedures than many applicants are used to and the application process deters those who don't care for that way of working. There are lots of talented and capable people who just don't fit in well with particular organisational cultures.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 6:06 AM on April 10, 2016 [10 favorites]

+1 for lousy forms system being a feature, not a bug. These forms provide a disincentive to apply. Given the low hit rate for cold applications, it's a waste of time to fill these.

This forces the job seeker who wants to spend her time productively to do more networking and informational interviewing. In the best case scenario, the job seeker is called for an interview and then retroactively applies for a job to satisfy the HR computer system.

In a networking centric view, the LinkedIn profile and resume are quite important and the HR form is not.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:08 AM on April 10, 2016

You definitely want to fill out every part of the online application no matter how redundant it gets. Evening if the hiring managers don't read every part, there may be automatic filters in place that disqualify your application.
posted by Become A Silhouette at 10:17 AM on April 10, 2016

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