JoDee CurtisBlog post author, JoDee Curtis, is the VP of Human Resources for The College Network.  She is both an SPHR and a PHR and currently serves as the Treasurer for IndySHRM.  JoDee is a graduate of the University of Evansville.


I spoke to a group of 25 unemployed people a couple of weeks ago.  This group meets weekly to discuss opportunities, share ideas and connections, and, quite frankly, just to connect with others in their same boat.  For someone like me who has been “on the other side of the fence” for a long time, it was a somewhat humbling experience. Many of them were out of work for the first time in their careers.   I was billed as being “big bad HR” and giving them a chance to understand the hiring situation from our side of the fence. It was eye opening for both of us.

Generally, I was sharing that we receive hundreds of resumes for most every position; they were lamenting that they send hundreds of resumes and never get responses.   I brought sample resumes showing that I receive literally hundreds of resumes that 1) express a desire for a position that I don’t have; and clearly not the one I was advertising for 2) list that they live in a city far away and declare “not willing to relocate” 3) are filled with grammar and spelling errors 4) offer no explanation for their interest in the position or why they are making a total career change 5) request a salary well in excess of the salary posted.  I begged them to be careful, to focus on the instructions, the details, and to explain discrepancies in their background compared to the job description.  I spend an initial 10-15 seconds on each resume and if any of these 5 issues are noted; I hit DELETE.

They brought frustration and stories to me about dealing with HR mostly for:

1) lack of response not only from the initial resume but even throughout the process

2) posting an ad that does not really define the position and

3) no feedback or follow up on what happened.

I know this is basic stuff on both ends, but I continue to see it and hear others experiencing it.  From whatever side of the fence you are on, have an appreciation and try to   understand the process from both sides of the fence.  If you are big bad HR then do your part to be responsive.  There’s no way I can personally respond to everyone who applies for a position; but I do my best.  I have an automatic response set up for my online positions on Monster and Careerbuilder that at least explains that I received their resume and that we will respond if we are interested; I have a standard email response that I can copy and paste for those who apply directly; if we meet them face to face or have any follow up with them at all, we definitely respond via email about our status and interest.  It’s common courtesy, so take the time to do it.  However, I did remind them of the volume and the small size of most HR departments and to be patient.

If you are applying for a position, don’t waste HR’s time without doing your homework.  If I have 200 applicants, I’m looking for those that meet my requirements.  Do I ask for more than I need most of the time, sure; so tell me which ones you don’t meet, why, and/or what you can do or have done to make up for that difference (lack of specific software experience, lack of specific degree or major, whatever).  Regardless of the level of the position, it’s competitive out there, so give me a reason to spend more than 10 seconds on your resume!

I walked away from this group with a reminder to myself that these hundreds of resumes represent real faces and names of people who are ready and able to work.  They walked away with a new realization about the volume of work that HR departments are accomplishing.  It was good for both of us to peek over that fence.