Increasing the odds of getting your resume in front of the hiring manager

I’m not sure why I haven’t recommended this earlier. I guess that we get used to what we need to do in our daily jobs and forget what kind of info might be important to someone who doesn’t get to see it from the inside. I have a little tip that might help you get your resume in front of a hiring manager more quickly.

First, let me tell you a little about how your resume may or may not get in front of a hiring authority (it’s kind of like how a bill becomes a law…”oh yeah!”). When a recruiter is out looking for candidates, they tend to be looking for something specifically; either a set of skills or a general candidate profile. The customer of this work is the hiring manager (you could argue that the customer is also the prospect or candidate but I’ll save that for another post). The recruiter is looking for people that will meet the hiring managers needs. Typically, the recruiter will generate a certain number of candidates and then the filtering process starts. Assuming that the baseline skills are there, is there anything that knocks this candidate out of the running for this position? The recruiter wants to answer this question before they send the resume to the hiring manager. That way, the hiring manager is making determination based on skill sets and doesn’t look at the recruiter like they are crazy when the recruiter tells them that the hiring managers favorite candidate will not move for the position.

Typically, the recruiter will answer some of these questions by either e-mailing or calling the candidate and asking. Generally, they will ask if the person is open to relocation (if they aren’t in the same geography as the opening), do they have work authorization and are they interested in the company and the position. For good recruiters, it is only after these questions are satisfied that they will send the resume along to the hiring manager (the best recruiters know their businesses so well they also phone interview the candidate and then let the hiring manager know who is coming in for interviews, but it takes a while to build that relationship with the hiring teams).

Oftentimes, the recruiter has time constraints; either they have a lot on their plate or they are generating resumes for a meeting with the hiring manager say…tomorrow. So other than having the right skills on your resume, what can increase your odds of getting your resume in front of the hiring manager? Answering the questions about relo and work authorization right on your resume. I know it sounds weird and counter to the ridiculous one page resume that some people will have you believe is a requirement. But if you think about a recruiter who is working with a large # of positions and candidates with a deadline, the ability to answer those questions immediately significantly increases your odds of having your resume passed through to the hiring team pronto.

If you have posted your resume on a job board or included a cover letter, you might think “the information is already there, I put it in my profile/cover letter”. Well, I’ve got to tell you, few recruiters read cover letters (I’m sorry) and frequently, your resume becomes unattached from the  e-mail you sent it in or the cover letter you attached it to. There’s a reason why it’s called an “attachment”…it gets detached.

Anyway, this is just a thought for those of you that want to try to grease the skids a bit with regard to getting your info in front of the hiring manager. Something as simple as “Current US work authorization and open to relocation” or “US Citizen Open to relocation” under your contact information could be a good thing. Even just “Open to relocation” would be great. Aside from sharing that specific information, it will show the hiring team that you are just a tad bit smarter than the other people applying!

Comments (28)

  1. Chris Wain says:

    Hey Heather–this is good stuff.  Many job seekers like me have wondered about how to get out of the "black hole," and doing things that make the recruiter’s job easier makes a whole lot of sense.  Any more of these BKMs will be extremely helpful to lots of people.


  2. lukaszg says:

    So… who actually does read cover letters? When you read articles on the web written by hiring managers they typically say they’re too busy to read them and assume the recruites have gone through them. Now you’re saying few recruiters do. For my part I don’t really like writing them. Maybe cover letters provide so little value and have become so formulaic that we simply shouldn’t bother anymore?

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yep, lukasz, you got that right. Use them only if you need to explain a career gap or something else that you can’t put on your resume, but it’s my opinion that you really don’t need to bother. A short, informal e-mail is perfectly fine.

  4. KW says:

    Good stuff. pls feed us more tips. 🙂



  5. Heather,

    Great points.

    I would only add that having a resume that does not contain major inaccuracies would ease a recruiter’s pain as well. A certified resume verifying the work history, education and professional credentials would certainly streamline the process as well. People are welcome to visit for more information.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    Ehh, I’m going to disagree with you on that Jared. The resume should be accurate and without typos, but I don’t think people need to have their resume "certified". If companies have a background check program, they have to do that whether the resume is certified or not and most recruiters, myself included, don’t know what "certified" means and would be unlikely to trust a company to certify a resume that we are not familiar with. People should just put things on their resume that they know are going to be checked and companies should check them. Simple as that.

  7. Wine-Oh says:

    Im anti cover letter. Id rather have the opportunity to talk with someone about my background. Also I have to argue that I think writing open for relocation may signal a little bit of desperateness for a job. I think it has to be conveyed a bit differently with different language. Also someone might not be open at first discussion but after talking it over with the hiring manager see that its a truly great opportunity. Other times maybe they cannot relocate as they just bought a house or something, but the hiring manager and company could say "we have a field office, or offer telecommuting opportunities." So to use relocation as a filter, I think needs to be revisited…

  8. julie g. says:

    So… does that mean it was a good thing I mentioned my relocation plans right under my address in the resume I forwarded you?

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    Wine-Oh, we can disagree on that. "Open for relocation" doesn’t commit someone to relo for any specific job. It’s just a conversation starter regarding relocation. It means the person isn’t ruling it out, is open to the idea, will consider it. If the hiring manager is open to telecommuting (in which case, it should show in the job description), it won’t do any harm to have the relo verbiage. I don’t think it seems desperate at all (what’s desperate about being willing to relocate for a position you really want?). It just lets recruiters who have opportunities outside ofyour area know that they should call you.

    And I can tell you that recruiters (well, I guess I am only officially speaking for myself here) hate it when a candidate tries to convince them that the company should allow them to work from home when the position is not a telecomuting position (and it says so in the job posting). Unless the person’s skill set is so specific that there aren’t others for the company to consider, it’s not really going to work. Generally, companies make the decision on a position-by-position basis (can this position be accomplished somewhere besides Redmond?) versus a person-by-person basis.

    Wine-Oh, I am not trying to make a case for relocation. That is a personal decision each individual has to make. I’m just trying to share what it’s like from a recruiter’s perspective and help people increase the likelihood of getting a call. You may have to take my word for it 🙂

    Julie g – yep!

  10. Wine-Oh says:

    Point taken and its very valid. Not every day one gets to hear insights from the other side of things 🙂

  11. William says:

    Great reply, Heather…

    It’s a turn off when a candidate tries to convince me that they can do a job remotely when it clearly must be performed locally.  The need to hire for a site-specific role has typically been discussed prior to a search (hiring manager, interview team and recruiter).  

    For roles that are remote, the candidate should be ready to detail where/how they’ve done this sort of work remotely before and delivered big.

  12. Nina Singh says:

    Thanks for the tips, Heather.  

    I am a foreign (Canadian) citizen but have indicated in my resume submissions to Microsoft that I am willing and eager to relocate to Redmond.  I know Visa issues have become increasingly complicated and am assuming a lack of US citizenship is a strike against me.  Is it worthwhile mentioning in my resume that I’ve worked with American market research companies to secure work authorization in the past (TN visas)?  Perhaps just to demonstrate that as a Canadian there are non-H1B options for me?      

  13. HeatherLeigh says:

    William- well said.

    Nina Singh – yes, definitely mention that!

  14. Tal says:


    Thanks for sharing this Heather.

    Would you suggest in that case adding to the resume details like: looking for a position that offers flex time? or is that something that the candidate should discuss with the recruiter/hiring manager

  15. Mark McGoldrick says:

    If you already live in the Seattle area, and you are looking for jobs in Redmond should you still put the relocation information in the resume?  Thanks for the info.

  16. HeatherLeigh says:

    Tal – that’s a tough one because "flex time" could mean different things to different people. To one company, it might mean working "four tens" while at another it could mean a 30 hour a week schedule or working different hours. I’d say that if it’s a requirement for you (meaning you would not consider an opportunity without it regardless of who is offering) then state your requirements on your resume (Available for work M-th, or 30 hours a week, etc.). If it’s just about which 40 hours, you might want to look into the company culture and figure out if it’s already inherent. if they are looking for someone for 40 hours, they migth be upset if you don’t let them know that up front. But I could see there being flexibility around wanting to work specific hours derpending on the job. Not sure if I did a good job of answering that question 🙂

    Mark – nope, you can skip it, but if you post your resume on a job board, people outside of your area could have access to it. So I’d just be mindful of who could be reviewing your resume. If you are just sending it to us and you live in Seattle no need to out the relo verbiage.

    Good questions from both of you.

  17. Robert Somé says:

    Great ! Your advice is very helpfull to me.

    Many thanks,

  18. Chad Chester says:

    I am going to revise my resume for Microsoft immediately with the information you have provided! I am visiting Portland in September and hope to relocate as soon as possible as my family loves Oregon. My 8 year tenure at Dell Financial Services has been great but I look forward to new opportunities in Microsoft assisting Premier customers. Hope to see you soon!

  19. HeatherLeigh says:

    Robert – I’m glad!

    Chad- good luck!

  20. Mark McGoldrick says:

    When you apply for a job on the careers site, what exactly happens to your resume.  Does it go to a recruiter or does it just go into a database that’s searchable by keywords.  I haven’t got a whole lot of response so I am curious whether I should be concentrating on writing for keywords or just describing my experiences.  Thanks for the information!


  21. HeatherLeigh says:

    Mark- fantastic question. I’d do both but you are wise to think about the key words. It goes into our database and recruiters are actively searching it. If you search some job descriptions onour career site you will get a good idea of some keywords to use. In fact. I’m going to blog about that….great idea.

  22. Heather-

    In response to your comment regarding certified resumes. Would you rather look at a certified resume or uncertified resume? You may perform background checks once you guys have interviewed the candidate and negotiated their salary- only to find out that there was fraud on their resumes. Unfortunately, you then have start the process all over.

    We have had a number of individuals submit certified resume to employers. More and more employers are asking for certified resumes as they don’t have to worry about whether that candidate is telling the truth regarding their education or employment.

    Certified resumes are a true pre-screening tool. Checking the background after you allow them inside your company hardly can be considered pre-screening. An extreme case is the person that places an employer on their resume…only issue is that they were really sitting in jail during that time….just think you that person was in your office..and your bosses office……….

  23. John Leonard says:

    Interesting topic, Heather and thanks for all the terrific info…   In a perfect world, you’re 100% correct when you stated in replied to Jared on June 22 “The resume should be accurate and without typos, but I don’t think people need to have their resume "certified".”  Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world… in fact it’s quite the opposite and increasingly, candidates are willing to stretch the truth on their resumes just to get an edge.  

    The certification process weeds out those instances in advance, providing the hiring company with a “clean” pool of resumes from which to select candidates to interview.  A simple concept that I find intriguing… and one that goes against most current companies’ processes in place to be sure, but one that I feel over time will be changing as termination, re-hire and re-training costs climb due to increased cases of resume misrepresentation discovered after the fact (whew!!).

    Just my $.02.

  24. HeatherLeigh says:

    Jared – I could see all kinds of legal issues with that. We have to treat all of our prospects/candidates in the same way. We can’t require that everyone have a certified resume. I honestly don’t care if someone’s resume is certified. I don’t know of any companied requiring it.

    Hey-let me guess….Jared and John work for a resume certification company.

  25. Heather,

    With all due respect, you should conduct some due diligence before responding to a post. Seems like John and I are trying to help your readers potentially gain an edge and/or educate them on trends happening in your industry – a concept that you are obviously very unfamiliar with which is understandably as it’s a relatively new concept.

    To you point regarding that you don’t know of any companies out there.  I would be happy to point you to a number of them…..

    Legal issues????-I don’t want to bore your readers by responding to this point, the below substantiates the inaccuracy of this comment.

    I would be more than happy to direct you to the many individuals that have obtained jobs using a certified resume….some have been cited in newspaper articles…articles that were independently written.

    We have never advocated that you "require" anyone to do anything…although again, there are smaller companies out there that are requiring candidates to submit certified resumes. Teachers are required to pay for their own background checks…and no different than paying an application fee to rent an apartment- the fee is for a background check. Sounds like true pre-screening is not an uncommon practice………..

    Just my $.03

  26. HeatherLeigh says:

    Sure, Jared, go ahead and point us to those companies. In the interest of educating my readers, feel free to do that here.

    Legal issues are boring but that doens’t mean they don’t exist. But next time I get any kind of communication from my legal department, I’ll let them know that I am not going to comply bedcause legal issues are boring. How do you think that will go over?

    Sorry if you don’t like that I disagree with your position. It’s not a matter of me doing due diligence, it’s a matter of me not agreeing with your statements and you using my blog to advertise for your own business. If I let you do that and did not say that I disagreed, it would be tacit endorsement. You won’t get that here. Other companies can do what they want; that doens’t mean that we should be doing it. Sorry, I am not going to be taken to task for not researching your product more. The opinions I stated were on the concept of certified resumes and the fact that you are planting a comment here to advertise somehting you are selling.

    One of the reasons that people come here is to get career advice. I give it. If I don’t agree with something someone has said, I say it.  I feel that is my responsibility. I suppose that you HAVE to believe that you are selling something of value. If other people find value in it, that’s great. But I stand by what I said. Right now, it’s a non-issue here and I still don’t know anyone that is using certified resumes. And I know a lot of people.

  27. Anon, Seattle says:

    Hmmm.  I’ve been through the MS recruiting process once before, got offered the job though I decided to decline (the package offered really wasn’t that great).

    I’m now living in Seattle (it was a long-term plan to move, my wife is from here).  I’ve applied thru’ MS’s career site, and have even had a employee referral, and . . . nothing.  One email, 7 weeks ago.  So, the premise of "getting your resume in front of a hiring manager" is a joke.

    Now, it’s quite possible that my resume/CV isn’t a fit — that’s fine.  What I find extremely distateful, is a complete lack of communication from MS.  I honestly feel as though I got thrown into a cosmic black-hole.

    Luckily, Google’s Fremont office is 20 minute walk away — and is becoming a far more appealing option.

    What’s the betting that if I get accepted to a Masters programme @ UW, that MS would be getting in contact?


  28. HeatherLeigh says:

    I’m not much for betting. If I were in your situation, I’d apply to both companies and see how that goes. Lack of communication from career sites isn’t just an annoyance reserved for people applying on our career sites. Very few companies do that well, us included. It has something to do with the many thousands of resumes we receive weekly. We could do better, that’s for sure. You should have received an e-mail when you submitted your resume.

    Having said that, recruiters here actively search our database for resumes that match the qualifications of their open positions. There would be nothing keeping them from contacting you if any one of them felt they had a position that matched your background. So your point about your resume not being a fit is a good one. Recruiters here actually want to hire people…no big conspiracy keeping us from calling people that match our open positions. No calls means we have not found a match for your background. I suspect that if we sent a weekly e-mail telling people that, it may help with the transparency, but it wouldn’t have any impact on them receiveing a call from a recruiter.

    If you have specific feedback for the folks here that manage our career site, I’m sure they would love to have it. You can either leave it here or use the "contact us" link on the page.

    I also know some of the recruiters over at Google, so if you would like, I would be happy to forward your resume to them so it doesn’t fall into their "black hole".

    I’d offer to help circulate your resume here but you sound angry. It’s all in the phrasing so I’m going to assume that you don’t want my assistance. But if you asked politely, I’m always happy to assist with getting a resume into the right hands. I don’t see anyone from Google making that offer, do you?