Someone reached out to me today, frustrated that he had applied to multiple job postings with limited results. When this occurs, the knee-jerk reaction is to blame the resume for the lack of responses, but the résumé is only effective if you have a strong search strategy to accompany the document.
After further examination, I uncovered that there are three major flaws in this person's posting strategy.
1. Applying for positions in a geography where you do not reside.
Employers are skeptical of applicants from geographies other than the one where the opportunity is. Many aren't interested in paying relocation expenses -- and with so many applicants to choose from, it's easy to eliminate someone who doesn't reside in the same geography. If you are planning to relocate, make this clear on both your resume and cover letter so the employer knows you plan to settle down in that area. This strategy won't guarantee that you will be considered, but it can improve your chances.
2. Having less experience than the job specification requires.
Hiring managers screening applicants who have responded to a job posting are generally not that flexible on this dimension. If they say that you need a minimum of three-five years of experience for the job and you have two, they probably won't pay much attention to your resume because they are bound to have dozens or even hundreds of applicants with the years of experience they are asking for.
3. Lacking the technical expertise specified on the job posting.
Again, employers who are screening applicants based on a job posting are looking for specific competencies; if they are not listed on your resume, it is easy for them to pass you over.
The bottom line is that employers who post on job boards are looking for exact matches. They are often using scanning software to screen applicants for geography, years of experience, and technical competencies. If you can't match the majority of the requirements listed on the job spec, don't bother applying; it's not a good use of your time or the employer's.
In general, the statistics on the number of people in search who land their jobs through job boards are quite low: somewhere between 2-10 percent. Spend only a small amount of time on the job boards and dedicate more of your time and energy to meeting people who can help you get in front of the right decision-makers for your search. You want people to get to know you -- the whole person; not just the resume. Once you establish a relationship with an influencer or decision maker, you can often move past the rigidity of a job spec and be considered for positions where there is not an exact match.