A year ago, I thought I knew everything about hiring software engineers. After all, I’d spent over 10 years in the tech recruiting industry — what in the world could have slipped by me? I thought there wasn’t anything left to learn.
I was wrong.
When I started creating CV Compiler, an ML-powered tool for resume improvement, I faced dozens of challenges every day. I was drowning in the flood of new information. Now, as I feel the ground beneath my feet again, I want to share my observations with you. Perhaps you’ll find these useful as well.
Observation #1: Job searchers want to do all by themselves
Like in every industry, job searchers in tech always rely on themselves more than third-party resources. Before paying one dollar for resume advice, they will definitely try to craft their resume or LinkedIn profile by themselves. They won’t ignore both pretty resume templates and the outdated how-tos. They will keep pondering the ‘doc-or-pdf’ question until they’re sick. Only after exhausting all these resources they will consider paying for a more convenient option.
The main takeaway: The candidate is the main competitor of any career services provider.
Observation #2: Resume writing is hard
Resume writing sounds quite easy. In fact, IT ISN’T. Dozens of sloppy resumes, which you can easily find on the web, prove it like nothing else. People think: I have 10 free resume builders of all kinds and 20 how-tos, so why can’t I put together a resume by myself? In fact, the majority of free resume builders disappear within a few months after they’ve emerged.
I reckon developers are disappointed with free resume builders because they often don’t correspond to the rapidly-changing demands of startups and big enterprises, and almost never provide tips on creating appealing content for recruiters and hiring managers. Unfortunately, inappropriate or irrelevant resume content often leads to rejections.
The main takeaway: One shouldn’t underestimate the difficulty of the tech job searching and resume writing process.
Observation #3: The candidates’ reaction to failures is often wrong
Not hearing from recruiters after submitting your resume feels terrible. At the dawn of my career, I experienced it myself. I see lots of job seekers making the same mistake: they’re asking themselves the wrong questions.
When one isn’t invited for an interview, they blame their resumes. They ask themselves
‘What is wrong with my resume? How can I make my resume look nicer?’
In fact, the right questions are:
‘Why aren’t recruiters getting back to me? What are the main reasons for their refusals?’
There are situations when the resume truly is to blame. Recruiters will reject you if your resume is too abstract or outdated, or if it lacks the key languages and frameworks and Github links, or when it’s full of typos. (But if the content of your CV is OK, think again: maybe your resume is not the key reason for ignorance?)
The main takeaway: The content of a resume always matters more than its appearance.
Observation #4: Customers’ emotions rule the world of career services
One developer had a bad day at the office, arguing with the team lead and colleagues, and despairing of ever getting a promotion; their pay was late and coffee was spilled on their keyboard. In the evening, when they got home, they started googling job vacancies, along with various work-related things. Career coaching, resume templates, tips on getting a better job — everything that they saw made an impact. But the next day all the frustration was gone, and the developer returned to work as if nothing had happened.
I assume, (and CV Compiler data proves it), that at least 50% of ‘career services’ are bought by job seekers on an impulse. When potential customers leave the site without making a purchase, they rarely come back.
The main takeaway: When buying career services, people often rely on their emotions.
Observation #5: Candidates believe in scary tales about ATS
A little note for those who don’t know what ATS is:
Simply put, ATS, (Applicant Tracking Systems), are huge databases of candidates, used by recruiters, hiring managers, directors, etc. They help HRs post vacancies, gather feedback, track the recruiting process and expenses, and so on.
Although this software is extremely helpful, it is somehow still misunderstood and imagined as ‘scary robot’ even by tech professionals. That’s why I decided to craft an article to share my knowledge about ATS.
At CV Compiler, we use the same parsing engine as any other major ATS. Generally, less than 3% of 15,000 resumes submitted to the CV Compiler fail to pass the parsing stage.
But nobody listens to a small group of recruiters and engineers, who know this industry from the inside. Unfortunately, the buzzword is too strong. I do know a few resume-writing agencies that jumped into this extremely competitive business and repeated the ‘ATS-compatibility’ mantra every time they needed to prove their expertise. It’s (not) funny, but they barely knew anything about ATS. They just used the buzzword to enter the field and scare candidates their way.
So, if you want to launch a career business tomorrow, just put the ‘ATS-compatibility’ label on the front page of your website. (Sarcasm.)
The main takeaway: My advice to all readers: don’t believe the scary tales about ATS-compatibility.
These were my principal observations during the process of creating the CV Compiler. Whether you agree or not, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Perhaps I’ll learn something more while reading them… 🙂