As part of my research on how resumes are processed online, I joined The Ladders as if I were a job seeker. I chose a free membership, although there were paid membership packages available with deluxe features I didn’t need for my research.
My experience joining The Ladders entailed filling out an online form to create my Ladders Bio, which included my resume. Following is an account of my experience.
After entering my name and email address into the required fields, I was asked to choose to either:
1. Upload my resume by using the system’s browser to search my hard drive and click on a Word or text version of my resume.
2. Create a bio by filling in a lengthy online form that involves choosing information from pull-down menus and typing (or copying and pasting) information into windows.
I created my bio both ways, for the sake of comparison.
Option #1: Upload My Resume
When I used option #1, I easily uploaded the MS Word version of my resume, but I was not given the opportunity to see the results of my upload until later in the process.
The next step took me to an online form to create my bio. Among the many questions was one that asked for “Years of Work Experience,” which had an asterisk next to it, meaning it’s a required field. if I had chosen not to answer that question, I wouldn’t have been allowed to continue with the membership. Although this made me worry about age discrimination, I entered “24 years” and continued.
Later I was asked for salary information (another piece of info I'm hesitant to give an employer too early in the game) but the question did not require an answer, so I left that field blank.
Finally I came to the page where I saw my completed bio, which is what The Ladder’s recruiters see. On the screen was my information, taken from the fields I had entered manually and from the resume I had uploaded.
In the largest window on the screen, appeared the body of my resume. It had been dumped into the field as one paragraph in Plain Text, which I could then reformat, using the space bar and the menu functions for bullets, indents, bold, and italics. The system had selected only the Experience section from my uploaded resume – it did not include the Heading, Job Objective, Summary of Qualifications, or Education sections. By the way my experience had been entered, I could tell the program was set up for a traditional chronological resume. Because I use a combination (chronological and functional) resume, I had to rearrange the text within the limits of the system. In other words, I could customize the format to my liking, but it took a little extra work.
After reworking my resume within the system, here’s what the body of my resume looked like:
1989-pres. Author and Resume Professional
Publications and TV
• Authored four books, each about 300 pages. (Alpha Books) The Complete Idiots Guide to the Perfect Resume (now in 4th edition), The Complete Idiots Guide to the Perfect Cover Letter, The Complete Idiots Guide to Cool Jobs for Teens, Get a Better Job the Lazy Way.
• Created Resumes That Work, a CD-ROM featuring interactive resume, cover letter, interview, and salary negotiation coaching. (Macmillan Digital)
• Self-published Ready-Made Resumes and Cover Letters, which is sold to job seekers as downloadable software and licensed to organizations.
• Former editor of Resume Pro Newsletter, published by Yana Parker for career development professionals.
• Featured in segments of "Career Advantage," a 26-part telecourse distributed by PBS and syndicated to colleges nationwide.
• Interviewed for national and regional TV, radio, and print media.
• Worked individually with more than 1,000 clients in three-hour sessions to create personalized resumes - not boiler-plate forms.
• Wrote resumes for diverse careers and levels of employment: executive and middle management, academic, technical, and trade.
• Manage Susan Ireland's Resume Team (also called The Damn Good Resume Team), a national resume writing service.
• Presented hundreds of resume writing workshops and lectures at career centers, universities, professional conferences, and corporations.
• Former resume instructor and counselor at Alumnae Resources Career Center, which received more than 100,000 client-visits a year.
• Led train-the-trainer resume workshops for federally funded One-Stop Centers and as part of professional seminars by Yana Parker.
The small print at the bottom of the window holding the text from my resume said this window had a 6,000-character limit. My resume had a little more than 4,000 characters, so it fit comfortably within the limit. However, I can see where some job seekers’ resumes (especially two-pagers for executive management folks with lots of experience) might easily need more than 6,000 characters.
Option #2: Create a Bio
Once I had used Option #1 (upload my resume), the system would not let me change my mind and use Option #2: Create a bio using The Ladders online form without uploading a resume. So I created another account under an alias so I could experiment with option #2.
This experience was similar to option #1 except there were more questions to answer and the program functioned like a resume builder, asking about each place of employment and its corresponding dates (which insisted that I include months as well as years!). For some of these fields, it made sense to copy and paste sections from my MS Word document and then adjust the formatting so it looked presentable.
For both options #1 and #2, I was offered the following:
- The opportunity to preview and edit my bio, even after it was submitted.
- The option to make my name and company name "Confidential" to recruiters.
- Encouragement to pack my resume with keywords so recruiters would find my resume for relevant job openings, using the system’s keyword search capability.
- An online record of my job search activity on The Ladders that I can view whenever I want. This record gives me up-to-date info on how many recruiters have viewed my bio and who those recruiters are.
- Emails from recruiters who are interested in me as a candidate for jobs they are seeking to fill.
To summarize, joining The Ladders was not a difficult task but it required attention to detail, especially with regards to reformatting the resume once it was uploaded to the system. The good news is that it uploaded without the system scrambling characters such as bullet points, ampersands, and quotation marks in the text. The not-so-good news is that I had to spend quite some time reformatting and proofing the resume once it was in the system. This last step of reformatting opened me up to the possibility of creating errors (perhaps typos that would otherwise have been caught by my spellchecker in MS Word), which would then make a bad impression on an employer.
Since joining The Ladders about a month ago, The Ladders has been quite attentive to me. I get several emails a week – some emails contain career advice and new job listings; others are advertisements to upgrade my membership to one with a monthly fee or for one of their revenue generating services. Because I’m not really seeking a job, I haven’t responded to any of the job notices and, therefore, cannot speak to the process beyond the initial membership application.