The Resume Black Hole: What It Is and Tips to Avoid It

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The process of searching and applying for jobs can be an excellent learning opportunity for many candidates. Creating an effective resume or cover letter as part of your application is often a significant factor in determining the success of your search. Understanding how to avoid the black hole for resumes may help you create a document that's effective and meets the application criteria. In this article, we help you explain what the resume black hole is and give you some tips to help you avoid it.

What is the resume black hole?

The resume black hole refers to the phenomenon in which a candidate submits a resume or application for an advertised position and never hears back from the hiring manager or recruiter. This can happen for many reasons, and knowing why can help you ensure your application gets noticed. It's important that you construct your resume to successfully pass any applicant tracking systems in place, so you may consider updating and improving your resume accordingly. It's also good practice to check you have the necessary qualifications and experience stipulated in the job advertisement.

A hiring manager may contact you and notify you if your application is unsuccessful during the recruitment process, but this isn't always possible in cases where there's a large number of applications submitted for one position. Not receiving notification regarding your application is often frustrating, and you can take steps to avoid it happening and employ strategies to help you in your job search.

Related: What to Do if You Aren't Hearing Back From Employers

Tips on how to avoid the resume black hole

There are strategies that may help ensure employers notice your application, including the following:

Learn how an applicant tracking system (ATS) works

When applying for positions online, it's common for your resume to go through an ATS before the hiring manager receives it. An ATS scans and filters resumes automatically. The aim is to reduce the number of applications for a hiring manager to review, saving the organisation time and money. They scan for specific keywords and information and typically reject an application that doesn't address specific requirements. They can include specific questions throughout the application process with acceptable responses, and ensuring your response is in an acceptable format may help ensure the system accepts your application and avoids automatic rejection.

Studying the job advertisement and addressing specific keywords, experience and necessary qualifications may help you ensure your application meets the criteria of an ATS. Adapting each application to reflect the individual job advertisement is important. You may consider using a simple resume template that doesn't contain any charts, symbols or images to ensure the format is compatible with any system a hiring manager might employ. There are online services that offer ATS resume checks. These checks can scan your resume, provide you with feedback on how ATS friendly it is and offer suggestions on the sections you may consider revising.

Related: ATS Resume Format Guide (With Template and Example)

Proofread your resume

Proofreading your resume can help you present a well-written, professional document. When proofreading, focus on identifying and correcting any grammatical or spelling errors. Check that all your information is accurate, especially your contact details. It's often beneficial to use a spell check tool in addition to proofreading all the documentation thoroughly yourself before submitting it to help ensure you detect any errors. This can help you identify words that you spell correctly but use incorrectly that a spell check tool might not identify. For example, accidentally typing employer instead of employee is an error you may identify yourself.

Requesting feedback regarding your resume is a good way to identify any mistakes. You may consider asking a friend, family member or colleague to review your resume for this reason. Presenting an error-free resume can demonstrate to the hiring manager your attention to detail and dedication, which are desirable skills for a candidate to possess.

Update your resume

Keeping your resume up to date ensures it contains all the relevant qualifications, skills and achievements. It's important to update your resume regularly, especially whenever you acquire an additional qualification or skill. If you receive a special award or achievement, you can add this to your resume. Taking the time to revise your resume regularly can help you maintain a well-written, polished document. It provides you the opportunity to submit a high-quality resume immediately if an unexpected opportunity arises.

Related: How to Update Your Resume (With Template and Example)

Keep it concise

A concise resume allows a hiring manager to find the relevant information they need quickly and easily, so it's important to make sure all documentation is well organised and readable. To keep your resume concise, ensure all the information on it is applicable to the position you're applying for. For example, if you have an extensive work history, you may consider only including your most recent and relevant positions.

If a recruiting manager has a significant number of resumes to review, presenting a concise, easy to read resume may help yours make an impression and ensure you receive a response and avoid the black hole.

Research the company

Many companies publish information regarding their recruiting process online. This might be on their social media pages or on their own website. You can read their blogs and study their press releases. Another useful way to research the company is through your personal and professional networks. If you know a former employee of the company, you may consider asking them about the recruiting process.

Researching the company and developing an understanding of how their recruitment process works may give you an advantage when applying. It can help you establish the next step of the process if your application is successful and to clarify your objectives.

Related: Why Quality Over Quantity Matters in Your Job Applications

Apply for appropriate positions

During your job search, it's important that you apply for positions appropriate to your abilities to help you avoid the black hole. To achieve this, you can check the candidate requirements and confirm you fulfil them. They may require specific qualifications, licences or skills or expect a specific level of experience. Also, ensure your application emphasises that you possess each individual requirement.

Job search websites often include the option to set up an alert for certain positions. You can customise this tool to send you alerts for positions relevant to your skills and abilities. This helps to ensure you receive prompt notification of any applicable employment opportunities.

Related: 3 Habits That Could Increase Your Chances of Getting the Job

Review the advertisement

Allocating sufficient time to review the advertisement thoroughly can help ensure you strictly follow all instructions and that you provide all the necessary information using the correct procedure. A job advertisement may include instructions on how to submit your resume, stipulate if you need a cover letter, state which format to use, specify how long to make it and tell you who to address it to. Ensuring you follow these steps meticulously can help your application pass an ATS and improve the likelihood of your resume making an impression when the hiring manager reviews it.

Include your accomplishments

Your individual accomplishments can help set your resume apart from other candidates and increase the likelihood of receiving a response. Accomplishments may include noteworthy awards, a special recognition or an event you're proud of. For example, you may consider mentioning your contribution to an impressive development or emphasising a personal achievement in a previous role or during your education. You can create a separate section in your resume specifically for your accomplishments.

Choose a simple design

Choosing simple formatting options can help you create a professional looking resume, enhance the content within it and avoid the black hole. Consider using a standard font and size to achieve a simple and neat appearance. Making headings slightly larger or bold can help structure the document, and organising each section to highlight your most valuable qualities can help set your resume apart from others.

Separating your lists with commas or vertical slashes instead of bullet points can save space on your resume and create an appealing, concise aesthetic. Keeping a simple and professional design can draw attention to your resume and help you avoid the black hole for resumes.

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