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The Resume Race

PBI currently has positions available for our Baltimore, Washington DC and Northern Virginia offices. We need Project Managers, Estimators, Account Executives, Technicians and Administrative personnel. Openings are so commonplace in today’s market that I can’t even remember the last time PBI didn’t have positions to fill.

 Ask any business person these days what the biggest obstacle is to the organization’s growth and I promise the answer will be “hiring new people.” 

Over the years I’ve read thousands of resumes, and I see the same mistakes over and over again from people hoping to be hired by PBI and other organizations. We receive mountains of generic resumes listing education from great schools, years of work history and all the traditional details. The biggest mistake 99% of the applicants make is solely relying on the resume process.

Obviously, applicants are following the online advice and college classes on how to write a resume, but still their resume gets stuck in a monstrous pile with little to no results. Why? My resume was perfect, I have degrees, and I’m great! Why are companies not beating my door down with job offer after job offer?

A resume is just a simple qualification process most organizations use to identify the best candidates by weeding out the unqualified. Unfortunately, many potential candidates get missed in this process for numerous reasons. You could be the perfect candidate (most are not) but that in itself doesn’t mean you will get any attention.  

Many companies have human resources staff to manage the hiring process, but many others don’t. Some organizations use recruiters but from my experience, that’s only effective and worth the expense at the executive level. Large Fortune 500 companies solely use very expensive applicant tracking systems to screen every resume for the right skills, experience or competitor names. With applicant tracking systems, many resumes don’t even get seen by a human until the software says the resume is viable.

The process for companies is getting even more challenging with our substandard education system, degraded work ethics and the commonplace job transiency.

Hiring new people is difficult, time consuming, expensive and can be subjective. For most organizations this process is painful and often conducted by individuals whose primary duties are something other than recruiting or hiring. If you want to get in front of someone already juggling twenty balls in the air, take their pain away and make it easy for them to consider you.

Finding the position you want (and are qualified for) takes time and effort, and yes, the dreaded four letter word, WORK. Research the industry and organization via the internet and social media. The information is at your fingertips to identify your best opportunities, and there are plenty of them. 

Get on LinkedIn, Facebook, and company websites and find people who can refer you through the “Six Degrees of Separation” theory. Referrals always put candidates at the top of the list and are the most successful way to hire from an organizational side. Personally, PBI’s most successful and long term hires have typically been from referrals or other efforts outside the resume process.

I received a resume about a month ago and after review, felt the individual was not a good fit for PBI. That resume was electronically filed and given no further consideration. Two weeks later our VP came into my office and handed me a business card from a gentleman who chased him down the road to hand him his card. The man wanted to see me about the job opportunity and he was literally making a race out of it. It was the same gentleman whose resume I filed away weeks earlier.

I called him later that day, and he’s actually a great fit for the position with some basic training and will likely get the job. I don’t recommend chasing people down the road but the extra effort (any effort) is necessary in today’s world if you want to get any traction in this race.  

If you can’t obtain a referral but you’ve identified an opportunity, find out who’s conducting the interviews. Make a phone call, send an email and be persistent that you are their answer.  People doing the hiring love to see initiative in any way, shape or form and it makes their job much easier.  
If by chance you are not hired after the interview, follow up a few weeks or a month later, as many new hires don’t work out. You could put yourself in a great position again simply by staying in touch in the future. Yes, this whole process takes far more work than simply emailing your resume, but so does any successful career. 

Mike Popowski is President of PBI Restorations. Reach him at