Gatekeepers Replaced by Databases Print E-mail

With the change in the economy, many professionals are suddenly finding themselves in the job market unexpectedly. Sometimes, senior-level job seekers are searching for a job for the first time in many years. The phones of those who have been “headhunted” their entire careers are quiet and these job seekers must learn the ropes of an aggressive modern job search quickly.

There are many new aspects to job search but the same basic core process is still at the heart of the matter. Companies are seeking candidates. Job seekers are seeking employers. Recruiters help the two come together in some situations. In other situations, it is a matter of in-house HR departments finding candidates that match their needs. How this entire matchmaking process occurs has been radically affected by technology over the past decade.

Many woebegone job seekers fret over the loss of the “personal touch” in the job search and take the lack of “the human touch” as a personal affront. While job search has become rather automated, it is not because of the people who do the hiring or recruiting – it is simply because the numbers of people in market for a new job have skyrocketed. It is logistically impossible for recruiters and hiring managers to manage by hand the influx of resumes they receive daily and respond to each one individually. Job seekers truly need to understand that and not take offense at the lack of personal response.

The gatekeeper in the job search has changed. Before job search became a huge, Internet-based endeavor, people would snail mail resumes or even drop them off at the HR department of companies. Resumes would be faxed in response to a newspaper advertisement or HR departments would provide a phone number for interested candidates to call. Every company had a gatekeeper of some kind – the person whose job it was to receive resumes and talk to job seekers who called. The challenge for the job seeker was to get past the gatekeeper and get in front of the hiring manager.

Today, the gatekeeper is not a person. It is a computer database. Recruiters and hiring managers use computer databases to manage the astronomical number of resumes that are submitted to them daily. Most people understand that the big job boards such as and others are database-driven but sometimes people unfamiliar with the intricacies of modern job search assume they avoid the database if they email the resume as an attachment. “I didn’t upload it – I emailed it to the recruiter” is a common comment.

What these job seekers do not realize is that everyone uses a database to manage resumes, including recruiters. Most of the time, when a resume is sent to a recruiter, the resume is loaded into the database before the recruiter even sees it. Recruiters prize their databases as valuable depositories of potential candidates. Just as a receptionist or an administrative assistant might have collected resumes in the past, the database serves that purpose now. Filing cabinets use to store paper resumes for mandated periods of time but now databases store them electronically and automatically purge old resumes after the legally mandated “on file” period expires.

The change in gatekeeper has two impacts on job search. First, it makes it incumbent upon job seekers to have a database-friendly, e-resume version of their resumes. The resume fails if the database cannot read it or if there are not enough relevant keywords for the database to notice it. Most job seekers have a Word format resume but they don’t realize that an e-resume can make their efforts in getting past the database much more successful.

Second, the use of databases has made job search much more of a numbers game. Job search success is still to some degree a matter of “who you know” but it is also a matter of “how many contacts” you have. That means getting the resume to as many potential companies, recruiters, and hiring managers as possible. Sending the resume to a couple of recruiters will not realize good responses.

Finding a new job can be tiresome and often frustrating but it’s the same basic core process that it has always been – job seekers are trying to beat other job seekers for open positions. Recruiters are seeking good candidates to place at companies. Companies are looking for employees who bring value and productivity to their operations. People communicating with people. The difference is at least one of the “people” in the process is a machine. 

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