Great Resumes Fast » Resume Writing Tips » 7 Strategies for Overcoming the Resume Black Hole

We hear from job seekers every day who are sending out hundreds of resumes and job applications but never hearing back from recruiters or hiring managers. It’s hard to tell if it’s the resume that’s at fault or the company that’s not hiring, has already hired, or if your professional resume is just sitting in a stack of 500 others never to be found. If you’ve experienced this, you’re probably wondering what can make your resume stand out and get noticed. So how do you write a resume that will get you hired? And how can you conduct a job search that actually gets you a job you want?

I’ve compiled a list of seven ways to overcome what I call “the resume black hole” to help you jump-start your job search and get noticed more often by more recruiters and hiring managers.

Manage Your Job Search—Don’t Let It Manage You

There are great tools and resources out there to track the applications you submit, responses you receive and more. For example is an excellent tool to keep your job search organized and it beats using an old fashioned spreadsheet. When you’re tracking who you’re applying to, what positions and more it gives you the big picture so you’re not just guessing how many applications you’ve sent in, but you know. It also tells you who is responding and what the next steps are.

Apply for Positions That Are Most Suited to Your Experience and Qualifications

In a normal job market I’d say go for it, apply to whatever you want for whatever reason you want. In fact, when I first graduated college I applied for positions that I wasn’t qualified for and I knew it. But I was hoping that an employer might take a chance on me and train me. Well I didn’t get the exact position I applied to, but I got a call from the company saying they had another position that my strengths and qualifications made me a good match for and would I come in and interview. Of course I did go in for the interview, and that’s how my career in the field of human resources and recruiting started. In this economy, it’s tough to advise you to apply for something you’re under-qualified for when there could be hundreds of other candidates with impressive work experience and relevant skills. The chance you’d hear back is so slim that you’re asking to have your resume disappear in a deluge of others and never hear back from an employer. Conversely, applying for positions you are overqualified for will get you about the same disappointing results. And I will tell you the God honest truth about it. Hiring managers are NERVOUS to hire overqualified people for one reason—they don’t want to risk that if they hire you now, when something better comes along you will up and leave. Then they have to start all over training someone new and it costs them money. They’d rather hire someone who has the relevant skills, but just meets the requirements versus grossly exceeds them. It’s a safer bet right now and unfortunately for unemployed job seekers it’s an employer’s market so they can be as picky as they want.

sell yourself_7 Strategies for Overcoming the Resume Black Hole

Reach Out and Make Contact

If you’ve spoken personally to a contact at the company, send your resume to them. If you know someone at the company, send it to them. An association with someone either over the phone or in person means you will be remembered –you won’t be just a faceless piece of paper in a stack.

A job posting will likely instruct you to send your resume and cover letter to a specific person, and if it does you should follow those instructions. However, you should let your contact know that you have sent in your resume and may even want to send them a copy of it as well. Doing so will increase your chances of having your application looked at and hopefully separated out from the stack of other applicants.

use your time wisely_7 Strategies for Overcoming the Resume Black Hole

Use Your Time Wisely

All the time you’re going to be saving from not applying for positions you are under- or overqualified for can be redirected into writing a resume that is optimized for the jobs you really want. Use the job descriptions of the positions you are applying to as a guide for what keywords to include in your resume and cover letter. You can usually tell which ones the company wants the most because these fall under position REQUIREMENTS. These should be in the TOP third of your resume, what I would call above the fold. It’s important the employer sees this in their initial five-second review. This will gain you additional time from the employer to review the rest of the resume. Make sure to include the PREFERRED qualifications as well—this makes you an even more desirable applicant. If you’re showing in your resume you meet all the employer’s required and preferred qualifications, why wouldn’t they call you? As you’re writing a resume you need to make sure that the formatting is calling attention to the qualifications and work experience that make you the ideal candidate. Resume writing is a form of persuasive writing. It’s all about getting and keeping attention on why you are the best person for a job.

it's not about you_7 Strategies for Overcoming the Resume Black Hole

It Is Not About What You Want

Just as the housing market has moved from a seller’s to a buyer’s market, the job market has, too. In a buyer’s market, the employer has choices. They can take as much time as they want and be as picky as they want. So don’t waste your time sending out resumes and cover letters that tell the employer a laundry list of what you want and need in a job. They don’t really care about your career goals. Writing a resume that focuses on your wants won’t get you very far. Instead be specific about what you can offer the employer that aligns with their needs. This goes back to the required and preferred qualifications. So back away from the objective—better yet, erase it from your resume altogether and replace it with a powerful personal branding statement.

Do Not Underestimate Looks

Let me tell you exactly what your resume layout is saying to the employer—it’s either saying “Organized, professional, well put-together, and detail-oriented” or it’s saying “Help, I’m a mess!”

If you were a hiring manager, would you rather hire someone that was professional and well put together or someone who was a mess? Point blank—your format speaks VOLUMES about you and if you want to get their attention in a positive way, it had better make the right first impression, otherwise it doesn’t matter how qualified you are, you’ll never hear back from them.

Plus, the hiring process can be long and arduous. A prospective employer might have hundreds of applicants. Do you think they are going to spend time trying to decipher your resume’s confusing format, or do you think they are just going to toss it aside and move to the next person? Trust me, they will be tossing it aside and moving along in the hiring process without a second thought for you.

When you’re looking for formatting ideas for your resume, it is perfectly fine to peruse templates and sample resumes online. However, what you should not do is just take a template and plug in your information. Every resume you send should be carefully tailored to you and to the job to which you are applying.

Be Your Own Best Salesperson

Statistics prove again and again that accomplishment-based resumes are far more effective than ones that just list your job responsibilities. My take is this: responsibilities are for job descriptions and resumes are for selling yourself through previous wins! I hear job seekers say all the time “I don’t have any accomplishments” or “My job wasn’t numbers-based.” Let me be direct—if you had no accomplishments in your past positions, you would have been fired from all of them. If you haven’t been fired from every job you have ever had, then you must have been doing something right! What was that something right you were doing? Emphasize that on your resume! A potential employer will stand up and take notice when you talk about results and achievements. Trust me—you do have them in your work history; start listing out what you’ve done at past jobs and you will soon realize what your achievements and strongest attributes are that you need to emphasize on your resume and/or in your cover letter.

This list is certainly not all-inclusive, but in my experience they are some of the key ways to ensure your resume stops disappearing into the job application black hole that so many seem to fall into these days. Follow these tips to help increase your chances of getting a call-back, an interview, and a job offer.

Our clients at Great Resumes Fast are finding tremendous success with these job search and resume writing strategies, as well other career tips. We heard from one client this week who was called for an interview the first day she posted her new resume. Another client of our resume writing service is in the final stages of interviewing with a Fortune 500 IT company within two weeks of using her new resume and cover letter. We’re so happy for their success and want you to know it can be your success too!

If you’re considering working with a professional writing firm and you’d like to learn more about how a professional resume writer from Great Resumes Fast can help you advance your career, head to our About page or contact us today.

Are you tired of your resume being rejected by applicant tracking systems? I know how frustrating it is to submit your resume and receive no response. I hate seeing qualified people never breakthrough the screening process. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I created this guide and I encourage you to download the FREE PDF so you can start seeing better resume response rates!

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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


  1. Tyrone Thigpen on May 15, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    This information was very helpful because having been employed with the same employer for the past 25 years, I now find myself on the market. I want to avoid as many black holes as possible.

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