Many years ago, the Human Resource (HR) department had a more active role in the hiring process and would sometime actually do the hiring for lower level positions.
In recent years, however, the role of HR has evolved into more of a facilitator. They are responsible for recruiting applicants but the actual hiring decisions are now made by the manager to whom the applicant will report. In other words, the Hiring Manager.
HR will advertise the openings, process the paperwork, receive the applications and resumes, and pass them on to the Hiring Manager to review and decide which ones warrant an interview.
Why You Must Customize Your Resume to the Job
In some organizations, HR will screen the applications and resumes against the job requirements and only pass on qualified applicants to the Hiring Manager. They may do this screening process manually or by using resume filtering software. Resume filtering software screens resumes and/or applications against predetermined key words and ranks them, frequently according to key word density. This is more common in very large organizations, where hundreds of resumes may be received for each opening, requiring a SuccessFactors human resource information system.
NOTE: this is why you must tailor your resume for each specific job to which you apply! You must use in your resume the specific words used in the job posting to describe the required skills and experience. These are very likely the ones that will be used as key words in the resume screening process. The more you use the descriptive words from the job posting, the better your chance of making it through either a manual or an automated screening process.
In some cases, although increasingly this is infrequent, HR may do an initial “screening” interview of candidates to decide which ones to pass on to the Hiring Manager.
However applicants finally make it to the Hiring Manager, it’s the Hiring Manager that conducts the final interview and decides which person will be offered the job. After that, it’s usually HR that actually makes the job offer and negotiates salary within the boundaries set by the Hiring Manager.
What Does All This Mean?
What all this means is that it’s the Hiring Manager you must impress, not HR (unless HR does the initial screening interview). Today, HR is a facilitator, not a decision maker in the hiring process.
Be aware, though, that in companies too small to have a full time HR Manager, it’s usually the Hiring Manager that does everything. This means that the person to whom you first communicate about a job may be an HR person, but they may also be the Hiring Manager.
Consequently, the bottom line here is that you should treat all people you encounter as if they were the Hiring Manager. You just never know who can influence the Hiring Manager and kill your chances for an interview as a result of a perceived slight.