Recently a joke circulated around social media:
The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results

It would seem the second best place to hide a dead body would be to send it to a company’s on-line career portal. Perhaps a dead body is a bit dramatic but it certainly seems it is the best way to ensure your CV will never be read as Careerxroads mystery job seeker experiment showed.

Careerxroads created a fictitious CV for Frank N. Stein. He has successful career as Senior Recruiter (not to be confused with the “career” of Frankenstein) with well recognised private sector employer, Johnson & Johnson, building on several years’ experience as a Principal Consultant with the executive recruitment firm Russell Reynolds. At the bottom of his CV it states that this is a fictitious CV and part of mystery job seeker programme.

Frank N. Stein (or should we say his “volunteers”) applies for 100 suitable positions on the career portals of the Fortune’s 100 best companies to work for in 2015. From Google at number one to Deloitte and Accenture at 97 and 98, these companies are searching for the best and brightest in the war for talent. Or are they? It seems either they leave screening of CV’s to a machine or people who can’t read.

A shocking 64% of Frank’s CVs went into the CV black hole. After 90 days Frank has no idea whether he is still being considered for the position or is unsuccessful. Only two companies read to the bottom of his CV (a typical American style 1-pager) and saw the note about being a mystery job seeker. Eight contacted him and six were trying to set up an interview, showing either the recruiter had not read the last sentence or a robot selected the CV.

An international CV black hole
But surely this could only happen in the USA – big companies with big electronic systems? So I asked a former colleague of mine who has been actively searching for a position in Switzerland over the last six months. Like Frank N Stein she is very well qualified with great work experience. Unlike Frank she is a real person.

She’s applied for 91 different vacancies in her field through on-line career portals, executive recruiters and her network. On the positive side you can say Swiss based companies are better at responding than their USA counterparts. But the CV black hole still sucked up 30% of her applications – those which have not been replied to after 60 days. But Swiss companies cannot be too proud of what is still a big percentage of non-responses from some international companies aiming for a reputation as an employer of choice. And let’s not forget this is a real person left without any explanation of where her application has gone.

Advice for job seekers
So for the frustrated job seeker where does this leave you now you know that there is a 30-60% chance that your CV will end up in a black hole? The best advice is to get yourself in front of a real person instead of an automated applicant tracking system. Use your network, ask for referrals (many companies have rewards for employee referring friends for a vacancy), get a meeting with the executive headhunters in your field, attend events, conferences and meet people. In short get your name and face out there.

Having worked on the other side of the recruitment process I know that most recruiters, HR people or line managers are stressed and busy. Thorough screening of CV’s is replaced by a quick skim read. There are systems that claim to screen CV’s but most do little more than organise them, a sort of electronic filing system with some limited keyword searches. A recommendation or a referral, or a person you’ve met before is much more likely to be remembered by a busy recruiter, HR Manager or line manager.

What is your experience – how many CV’s have you had go into the black hole? Looking for career advice to help you find a new position or new direction see Pipsy’s career coaching services.

Is your company’s career portal a dead database? Is your recruitment process helping or hindering you to find the top talent? Time to let Pipsy review and align your HR processes.