Job Search Problem: Why Submitting a Resume Isn’t Enough, and What You Can Do About It

WorkCoachCafeMany job seekers have described to me that submitting a resume in today’s job market is mostly a banging-their-head-against-a-wall, extremely frustrating waste of time.

You want that resume to get you into an interview, but it doesn’t.  I think this could be why: 


 80% of employers

Google job seekers

before inviting them

into an interview! *


If employers don’t find something good and solid, that agrees with the resume – a LinkedIn Profile is perfect for this – you  aren’t invited in for an interview.

Interviewing job candidates is very expensive for an employer to do (2nd only to the cost of hiring the wrong candidate)!  Consequently, employers use Google searches to try to avoid those expensive mistakes.  

The resume-submission-to-interview-invitation process typically runs through these 4 steps:

Step 1.  Resumes are received and screened into two groups (“possibles” and “no”). 

Step 2.  Someone opens up a browser, and begins Googling the “possibles” which are then screened into three groups (“more likely” and “less likely” and “no”) based on what is discovered – or NOT discovered.

Step 3.  The “more likelys” are compared. Phone interviews (a.k.a. “phone screens”) may be conducted.

Step 4.  Invitations to interview are extended, and the real dance begins.

When nothing, or nothing good, is found about you, you end up in the “less likely” or “no” piles in step 2.

What Should Job Seekers Do in Response?

The good news is that job seekers can influence what is found in this process.

In addition, your participation will not only help you survive the Googling, it will also increase your “market value” and the size of your networks.

1.  Google yourself!

Look at the first 3 or 4 pages to see what is visible to an employer about you. 

DO NOT be happy if they find nothing about you on Google!  That means either of two things to most employers – you don’t know how the world works today (so you are out-of-date) or you are hiding something.  Neither of those two impressions will help you in your job search.

Then, practice Defensive Googling for the rest of your job search (and career).

2.  Google anyone well-known and well-respected in your field.

What does Google show on the first page of search results?  Assuming it doesn’t show things like  TIME magazine cover stories, a feature in The New York Times, a 60 MINUTES segment, and other similar high profile media mentions, carefully look at what you find.  I bet you could also get visibility in most, if not all, of those venues!

If you Google me, you’ll find:

  • My LinkedIn Profile
  • My Google+ Profile (naturally!)
  • My bio (a 2000-page website I’ve owned and edited since 1998)
  • My VisualCV
  • My Amazon Profile
  • My Business Week Business Exchange Profile
  • My Twitter Bio
  • etc.

Except for the bio, all of those profiles are available for everyone at no cost.  And all of those Profiles describe me in my own words, because I wrote them!  And because I made them public for the world, including my family and friends, to see, the assumption is that they’re probably true, at least for the most part.

3.  Read my Reputation Management (or Recovery) Post

You can manage this issue.  It takes time to set up and develop, but once you have, it will take only an hour or two a week to maintain (assuming minimal participation).  When you are in job search mode, you will be spending more time on this issue because it is so important to your job search.

4.  Get busy working on your public image.

It’s not just for movie and TV stars and musicians any more.  We’re all famous, at least a little, and the sooner you get started managing your public persona, the better off you will be.  If you prefer, think of it as “personal branding.”  The greater your positive online visibility, the better your online reputation, and the greater the likelihood that you will have a response to your resume the next time you submit it to an appropriate opportunity.

Not Optional Any Longer

This post is in reaction to a discussion I had with a job seeker who is desperate for a job, but very reluctant to put herself “out there” online.  Making matters worse, she is looking for a job in marketing.  Anyone in marketing or sales today MUST demonstrate that they understand how the online marketplace works, so she is really hampering her job search.  I hope she reads this and overcomes her fear of online visibility.  

Good luck with your job search!

* This 2010 Microsoft-funded study is the source of the 80% statistic. I think that the percentage has surpassed 80% of employers in the nearly 3 full years since that study was released, based on countless conversations I’ve had with recruiters and employers.  If it hasn’t hit 100% yet, it will very soon!

For More Information About Online Reputation Management:

Critical NEW Job Search Skill: Reputation Management (or Recovery)

You Are Being Watched! And Judged!

Social Proof: LinkedIn to Your Resume (

Is Your Job Search Too Old Fashioned?

Why You Didn’t Get the Job: 10 Reasons You Can Control

Why Job Hunting Is So Hard, and How You Can Make It Easier

Defensive Googling (


© Copyright, 2012, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.


About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .


  1. LinkedIn is a great online platform/resume for job seekers. It’s free (unlike a personal website), very credible and well known, and shows up high in Google. It’s a great way to manage your professional brand. Great post, Susan!

    • Thanks, Drew!

      Yes, Google loves LinkedIn (it’s # 1 for me and for most people). All of the sites listed in my Google search results, except my other website, at least have an entry-level presence that is free for everyone.

  2. I Googled myself last month, and fortunately there was nothing scandelous found (even from my younger days). In fact, I found out that a piece of work I created was displayed on a major website! I’m also on Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t use my real name. I still try to keep things clean even though I’m using pseudonyms.

    • Congratulations on the major website visibility!

      Unfortunately, keeping things “clean” is only half the problem – VERY important, but only half of the problem.

      The other half, which I believe is having a big impact because people are unaware of it, is making sure that Google shows employers and recruiters positive things about you, demonstrating that you know how to operate in today’s world and are who you say you are.

      Your online image needs to back up what your resume says – the same dates and job titles and education. LinkedIn is currently the most reliable venue for most job seekers to use.

      Good luck with your job search!

      • Thanks, Susan:)

        I’ve been a LinkedIn member for awhile and my profile is visible to public. With each tweak of my resume, I immediately update my LinkedIn profile. Also, I have a website for employers to view my work. So my work also backs up my resume:)

      • Excellent!


    • Hi Anonymous,

      If you do work that is positive, showcases your skills, strengths and is relevant to what you want to do in your job — I’d encourage you to use your name. In a 2011 Microsoft survey of employers, the number of respondents who said that a strong online presence would increase their likelihood of hiring a candidate outweighed the number of employers who said they would screen out a candidate based on what they found online.

      If you keep the online presence positive and professional (no typos, grammatical or spelling mistakes) — your online presence could help you get hired instead of hurt!

      Good luck and all the best,

  3. Thanks, i’ve heard before about employers googling potential employees. Untill today, i didn’t realise that lack of exposure could stop us getting employment. I’ve sent my cv to hundreds of employers and haven’t had any responses. It’s very disheartening. Now i know there are things I can do about it. So thank you.

    • You’re welcome, Sophie,

      Sorry to deliver the disheartening information, but it’s good to know what you can do and to move ahead. Don’t be discouraged, just dig in and fix the situation. The good news is that you CAN fix it yourself!

      Good luck with your job search!


  4. Is a LinkedIn page sufficient as far as online presence? I’ve removed myself from almost every other social network because I’m tired of having “friends” I don’t speak to, and don’t want knowing my business.

    • Hi Michelle,

      A LinkedIn page is the minimum for most jobs, and it’s VERY good that you have that (hopefully with a photo of you on it).

      You won’t get “friend requests” from Business Week’s Business Exchange, Amazon, or many other sites – just really the social sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Do what you are comfortable with, but know that you are a bit vulnerable with only one kind of “social proof” that you are who you say you are. You do have the one that matters the most right now, though.

      Good luck with your job search!

  5. I don’t think people actually believe employeers Google them – so thanks for this article! They will do anything that saves them time and money, so make sure anything on Google about you is good news!

    • Hi Beverly,

      Thanks for your comment. As many people can have numerous Google results, one of the most important rules of thumb when working with Google is that at least half of the top 5-7 of Google search results on your name relate directly to your professional interests or work experience.

      Thanks again for stopping by our site and taking time to weigh in.


  6. tangoecho5 says:

    Ekk, I dislike linkedin and any other form or social networking. I know I should do it but just hate the whole process of them. I have had linkedin and FB profiles in the past. I’d rather have no profile than one that has maybe five connections or friends that hasn’t been updated or responded to in months. And I got my most recent job at a Fortune 500 company without having any online social profile. And the process to get this job was more stringent in regards to background checks, employment and school verification, skills testing, etc, than what I had to do to join the military. So I guess they must feel their background checks, etc, is proof enough I am who I say I am.

    • Dear TangoEcho5,

      How visible you choose to be on social media is an individual decision – and if you don’t choose to be active it may not hurt you. If you are applying for roles in sales or business development or PR, it can be important to be visible – and active – in social networks. If you are applying for a job that requires strict confidentiality and security, active social networking and sharing what you do on a daily level can hurt you. Based on what you’ve shared of your military background, discretion and confidentiality may be prized among your potential employers and/or in the jobs you apply for.

      Good luck and all the best,

  7. Hannibal says:

    So I just googled myself, and all I see are links to my twitter, my facebook, my google + and some of the creative writing i’ve posted online.
    what does that say to employers!?

    • chandlee says:


      If your comments and content online don’t contain anything that would make your mother blush or cry, it probably won’t hurt you. If they show your knowledge of your field and are well-written, it can certainly help. If you haven’t done so already, create a strong LinkedIn profile — due to their high search ranking, it will likely be the first thing employers see!

      All the Best,

  8. I’ve applied for 11,437 jobs as of today within the past 14 months of searching. This online stuff doesn’t work but what else can you do? Temp agencies are useless too, they either don’t have anything right now or only have very low pay short term contract jobs without benefits that nobody wants. Having a ton of temp jobs will only make thing worse for you in the long run. Yesterday, I saw an engineer I used to work with at HP before the last layoff now working at Home Depot as a part time cashier. That’s embarrassing. Where are the “real” jobs at? People like to blame it all on your resume but I’ve had mine done 4 different times and things haven’t improved yet. Job fairs are a waste of time also, it’s always an overcrowded room of applicants standing in line for hours on end to talk to some company rep for less than a minute just to hear them say go apply online. What do I do?

    • Lou,

      Effective job search has changed substantially in the last few years, and you need to catch up with what works today.

      As you’ve discovered, massive online resume submissions does not work. I doubt that in 14 months you’ve actually found 11,437 jobs you really wanted with employers who actually interested you. So, stop submitting resumes! NOW!

      I recommend that you do the following:

      1.) Figure out 1 to 3 jobs you want and are qualified for.

      2.) Build a 100% complete LinkedIn Profile for yourself that describes how well-qualified you are for your target job(s). Think resume on steroids plus recommendations from former bosses and co-workers.


      Based on the limited amount of research on your name that I was able to do, you are invisible online. That gives employers nothing to compare your resume with (so no validation of what your resume claims you have done), no results for their online background checking (before they call you in for an interview), and all of that makes you look out-of-date in today’s job market. If you are invisible today, you aren’t demonstrating that you understand today’s business marketplace and how people communicate now.

      Online reputation is AN EXTREMELY BIG DEAL now – perhaps bigger than a great resume (see the 80%-of-employers-Google-job seekers statement at the top of this post)!

      3.) Read the “Is Your Job Search Too Old-Fashioned” and “Why Job Hunting Is SO Hard Today” posts, and follow the advice in those posts and this one.

      4.) Determine 10 to 50 employers who interest you, and focus your job search efforts on them. Follow them on LinkedIn, research them to understand who/what they are looking for, see if you can network into them (LinkedIn is very useful for making these connections and so are local business/professional association meetings).

      5.) Start selectively submitting resumes for the “right jobs” (the ones you picked in # 1, above) to the “right employers” (the ones you picked in # 4). Stay active, and visible on LinkedIn.

      If you are an HP “alum” – check out the HP corporate alumni groups on LinkedIn (there are several!) to reconnect with other alums who can help you with your networking and job search. If you have worked for other large organizations, see if they have alumni groups, too, both on LinkedIn and off.

      6.) Step away from your computer, and go to relevant face-to-face professional events and other networking opportunities you find. You might try volunteering for a local charity you support, particularly if you can find volunteer work in your field (like helping with IT if that’s your field). Update your LinkedIn Profile with these activities, including temporary employment.

      NOT a quick fix, but do-able if you spend the time you were spending on job applications on LinkedIn and more productive activities instead.

      Good luck with your job search!

  9. Now I have an extremely common name, so even if I did put myself out there, I would literally be drowned in thousands of other profiles and pages by other Amy Smiths. What if anything can I even do about this?

    • Hi Amy,

      Having a very common name makes it more important for you to do an online profile, so that you can be found. Without an online profile with your photo and professional details, employers won’t be able to verify the info on your resume.

      Use a distinctive version of your name, add your middle name or your middle initial, and then use that version of your name in your online profiles, your resumes, and your professional correspondence.

      My name is Susan Joyce, and there are thousands of other women named Susan Joyce. So, I am Susan P. Joyce, and I have several public profiles using that name (listed in this post, above). So, it can be done!

      Good luck with your job hunt!

  10. I understand the importance of a having positive, informative information on the web these days. I do have a linked in profile. However, I have my first initial and last name only and do not indicate the names of the companies – but the type of company, i.e., medical, legal, etc. I am a very private person and do not want my personal information on the web for all to see. Also…there is no picture. Why is it important to have a picture of oneself? Yes…ok…people want to seIte whom they are considering…but that can also lead to discrimination also. They will see me when I meet them for the interview and have a personal chance to discuss my qualifications and answer questions. One company wanted to meet via Skype to see if I would be the “type” of person they want to hire. WHAT???!! They weren’t in another part of the world…right within my metro area.

    Also…I am a senior-level HR professional and am finding that some companies (obviously with inexperienced recruiters and hiring staff) are asking interviewees to complete information that asks for their age and social security numbers. What is that for? If a person is only coming in for an interview – why is filling out a criminal background check or any other information necessary? If I am offered a position…then that information is ok…and I don’t mind providing it. Why do you need to know my age? It could lead to a claim of discrimination in hiring. Not a good idea. And…asking someone for their social security number at the interview? Why do you need it? You are not going to do a check at that point. Poor HR accumen.

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Liz,

      I understand the need for protecting your privacy, and, actually, I applaud it – something I have been encouraging job seekers to do since 1995.

      But, I think you are taking it too far right now and harming your job search. You need to seriously reconsider your current approach.

      Perhaps you can be more visible while you are job hunting and then reduce your visibility when you have a job?

      Why is LinkedIn so important?

      * Without a solid LinkedIn Profile, including a good headshot photo and the names of your former employers, you look like you have something to hide.
      * Without a solid LinkedIn Profile you look out-of-date, like you don’t “get” how to operate in the current business environment, which is a big handicap for someone over 40.
      * Given how much of recruiting is done online and the growing importance of LinkedIn, not leveraging LinkedIn effectively for your own job search probably makes you a less attractive candidate for many employers.
      * Many employers (most, in some studies) use Google as a cheap background check before inviting someone in for an interview.
      * Many employers (most, in some studies) compare the resume/application with the LinkedIn Profile to see if there are any exaggerations or inconsistencies.

      An additional problem most people don’t consider – not having your LinkedIn Profile associated with your name makes you vulnerable to mistaken online identity. It happens more often than you might think! Someone else with the same name could have done something bad, but there is no way for an employer to easily and quickly determine it’s not you without a good solid LinkedIn Profile with your whole professional name associated with it.

      Yes, the photo is VERY important!

      * Someone who worked with you or knows you may not be able to pick out your LinkedIn Profile without recognizing your face in the photo associated with your Profile.
      * The photo will also differentiate you from the “bad guy” with the same name you have who has a police “mug shot” visible in an online search.
      * People are 700% (7 times!) more likely to click on a LinkedIn Profile that has a photo associated with it than one which does not.

      LinkedIn is NOT Facebook! It does not tell people where you live (you can do that through LinkedIn if you want to, but it is not forced by LinkedIn). Certainly, people may discriminate against you because of your photo, but I’ve always felt that it would be better to know up front if there will be discrimination – because that isn’t a place where I would want to work (if in fact they would even hire me). And, right now, you are creating a different kind of discrimination because of your low profile. But, that’s “discrimination” you can fix yourself.

      I strongly recommend that you reconsider your approach to LinkedIn and your online visibility. It WILL help your job search.

      Good luck with your job search!

      • Hi Susan:

        Thanks so much for your response. Perhaps I am being too “secretive” – maybe I watch too many tv shows!! I am going to take your advice and add a professional photo. (I don’t have one now…but will have one taken). In terms of the company names, I guess you are right. I don’t hae anything to hide….my work experience is solid.

        Ok…Susan…let’s see how that works!!

        Thanks again!!!


      • Susan P. Joyce says:

        You’re very welcome, Liz! Hope things work out for you very soon!

  11. I disagree. As a social media manager and former ghost writer (15 years), I enjoy being “social” for my clients. I have no desire to create a social following for myself. I do it for others 10 hours a day. Why would I want to spend my personal time stuck to a computer screen? I want to enjoy myself by having a real life. I have no desire to “link” with anyone and never have. Besides, when did my personal work history or job titles or length of time worked become public information? I am not running for office, nor am I a public figure. I have no desire to re-connect with weirdos and stalkers from previous positions. I do not want my ex-husband and his wife examining my work history either. None of anyone’s business unless I am actually applying for a job. In that case it is THEIR business alone and I will give that information to them…. not display it to everyone on the Internet! People who like their privacy don’t always have “something to hide,” either. My son (a young twenty-something) is a web designer and he is completely off the grid with no social accounts whatsoever. He has no desire to “connect” with anyone nor hand over his personal job history to random people he does not know. You can say anything on LinkedIn and that does NOT make it TRUE! If employers think people do not lie about their jobs and history on LinkedIn … they are the ones who need to rethink how important the crap they see online really is or they will be missing out. And make really poor hiring choices.

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Sam,

      I hope it works out for you and your son. The whole job search process is changing and perhaps by the time you or your son are in the job market again, being invisible might be a good thing. I hope so.

      Right now being invisible is NOT a good thing for most (not all!) people looking for employment. I do understand that’s a problem for people who are trying to maintain a low profile because of a personal issue, like an abusive former spouse to avoid.


  12. So what if your first name, last name, is a very common search term? My first name is the name of a popular monarch and my last name is the last name of a country in which that monarch reigned. So any kid doing a history report would google … my name. My name also happens to be a city in that particular country as well. The only thing pertaining to me in the first 3 pages of a Google search is my LinkedIn profile.

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Maitri,

      The problem is that an employer trying to confirm the facts on your resume would have trouble doing it and would wonder if you are who you say you are and have done what you say you have done.

      Since the monarch (if alive) would not be job hunting, the question would be why are you invisible – are you hiding something or don’t know how to use the Internet. Depending on the job, using the Internet might not be a requirement. But, employers are not usually interested in hiring someone with a secret they are trying to hide from the world.

      Since you have a LinkedIn Profile, which probably appeared on the first page of search results, you should be OK.

      Good luck with your job search!

  13. Cafe Patron says:

    Thank you for a lively and interesting discussion.

    I value LinkedIn mostly for the opportunity to participate in group discussions. My LinkedIn profile includes only a summary about myself and images with brief descriptions of my past work and academic accomplishments. My profile does not include my erratic work history because I agree with Howard Figler’s advice to job seekers to hide their resumes.* Anything that anyone lists on a resume or posts online can be subject to misinterpretation or the reader’s prejudices.

    I use my real name on LinkedIn but use aliases for all of my other online activities, including my book reviews. Because my book reviews cover a variety of subjects unrelated to my career goals, a potential employer who sees them could judge me as someone who is unfocused–no matter how well-written my reviews are.

    I sympathize with Liz and Sam regarding the validity of internet searches on applicants and the premature collection of applicant data. (What’s next, our DNA?) Having no qualms about applicants’ privacy, some employers seem more interested in digging up dirt than in finding people who can solve their problems and deliver results. Under such conditions, it seems easier to start a business than to endure the indignity of job hunting.

    Figler, Howard. The Complete Job Search Handbook NY: Holt Paperbacks, 1999,

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