The most sought after job listings can get up to 1,000 resume submissions, especially in a down economy. How is a hiring manager or the future boss of said position supposed to sort through all of these applications? Some how the large stack of resumes have to be whittled down to 10-30 applicants to interview. Traditionally, this has been done by personal connections and the quality of an applicants CV. One’s web presence is quickly becoming an additional important factor, especially for tech related jobs.
It’s Who you Know
Having recommendation(s) from people that the hirer knows can go a long way. Even better if you have built a relationship directly with the person doing the hiring. That way, your resume will float to the top or you might even be able to know about the job opportunity before it is even public information so you won’t have to worry about being just another resume in the stack. As far as how to build a great network: check out the answers for this question on Quora and this video on networking. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, it is estimated that 50% or more of jobs are found through networking making it a much more important ability than just submitting your resume on job sites.
The Golden Pedigree
The standard method is to quickly filter through the applicants is by quickly sorting through the CVs and seeing who has the most shining resumes: who went to the best colleges while maintaining a high GPA and has worked at name brand employers. The thinking is, if they were good enough for HYPSM and [insert prestigious employer here], they must be good enough for me. This is the quickest proxy for identifying talented and hardworking individuals when you are faced with a flood of resumes. Yes, many great candidates are missed who don’t fit into the mold while some schmucks will still somehow be able to sneak in. Still this is the quickest and most efficient way to sort through a large stack of resumes and hence it is commonly utilized.
The perceived importance of having a golden pedigree has caused intense competition for getting into the nation’s top universities and for job slots with employers who are perceived as being prestigious. Sometimes students are willing to even take jobs that they hate in order to have amazing “exit opportunities”. I know students that have a great passion for finance or strategy consulting and that is great but by no means should other students feel pressured into pursuing those options. Plus for students that don’t fit the conventional mold, there has to be ways to build alternative credentials.
Your Web Presence is The New CV
Most likely a future potential employer will google your name/look for your web presence and whatever comes up will be used in evaluating you as a candidate. Some forward thinking companies such as Union Square Ventures have gone as far as only asking for an applicants web presence when applying for a position. The ability to write thoughtfully and passionately about a topic is a great way to demonstrate interest in an area. Also, your web presence is a great place to display qualities and accomplishments that don’t fit neatly on a resume and these are areas where you can really stick out. The importance of your web presence will only increase in value over time as it becomes a more integral portion of the hiring process.
In conclusion, I hope that one’s online presence and other alternative, non-exclusionary credentials help democratize the job application process. What skills you have learned and can display should be more important than one’s alma mater or there lack of. Despite that, I think which school you go to is becoming more important for most students because competition for good jobs is intensifying. That being said, for those with an entrepreneurial mindset, great things can be achieved and jobs can be found with or without such degrees. It will just be that much harder for those without the high-value formal credentials to fall back on.