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  • Mark Millward

"I'm Sorry Dave, I'm Afraid I Can't Do That"

Copyright: Warner Brothers

There is a moment in the film "2001, A Space Odyssey" where HAL, the computer that monitors the status of the entire spacecraft, rebels and will not let the astronauts perform essential functions as it fears doing so will end its "life". It tells one of them that it cannot do what it has been asked to do and utters that now famous line.

"What has that to do with a job search", I hear you say? Well, read on and you will see that software plays a huge role in the hiring process, YOUR hiring process.

So, you have decided to dust down the old resume and look at the career market. You’ve search on Monster, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, and Indeed, and there are an awful lot of positions out there that you know you fit perfectly. You also know that you are going be an asset to the hiring company; it is a slam dunk that you will be hired!

You submit your resume, and then you wait, and wait, and you wait some more. You get no response except for the acknowledgement your documents have been received, and that someone will be in touch if you are a match.

After a while, you decide to write a polite follow-up email, only to be told that they are “…still reviewing candidates” and that they “…will contact you if you match their needs”. And that is it. The trail goes cold, and you never hear again.

Why does that happen? Why does it seem to be happening more and more? Are you not suitable for any of these positions? Are companies so inundated with resumes that it will take too long for them to respond to them all? Well, that last statement may have some truth to it, but the real reason is likely to be that your resume was never read by a human in the first place.

Most companies now employ software to weed out resumes that do not meet their requirements, cutting down the number that each hiring manager reads. This software, called “Applicant Tracking Software” or ATS, can automatically dump up to 85% of resumes submitted for every position. It uses a complex algorithm to match your resume with the keywords the hiring manager uses to find the perfect candidate. The less keywords in your resume, the less chance you have of making it to their desk.

So, I hear you ask, how do I get passed this step? That is where the professional resume writers at M-Squared Career Services can help. We have years of experience in getting people passed that initial ATS hurdle and onto the interview stage.

Add a professionally written cover letter and a strong LinkedIn profile by our staff, and you greatly increase the chances that ATS will trap you, and you will start to receive positive human responses to your application.

Our cost-effective solutions increase the likelihood of getting that call back and an interview. After all, if you are as good as your resume says you are, we want that slam dunk to happen on the hiring manager’s desk, not in a computer program, right?

Look for another blog entry coming your way next week. In the meantime, if you have a subject that you would like me to comment on, please email

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