In this digital age, everything is becoming virtualized. Almost everything we do in our daily lives can be done online. That being said, applying for jobs online has become increasingly popular. Unfortunately, the applicant screening process for online applicants has also become digitized, which can end up hindering your job search.
Applicant tracking systems
Having a resume isn’t enough! It is becoming more common for companies to screen online applicants using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). An ATS is a system that scans keywords from your resume to determine if you are a good fit for a position before your application is seen by human eyes. If your resume does not contain words from the job description, the ATS will automatically discard it.
How an ATS can hinder your online job search
The ATS will screen your resume for keywords that match the job description. If your resume doesn’t match enough keywords for the job, your application will be automatically discarded. If that happens, you are lucky if you receive an automated message about how the company has moved on to other candidates. Your application didn’t make it into human hands. You were filtered out by a machine.
To get around the ATS, people try taking keywords from the job description and adding them to their resumes. Good idea, right? Wrong. Since this has become a practice done by most job seekers, companies started adding keywords that they don’t even list in the job description in order to filter out more applicants. This is making it more difficult for quality applicants to get through the system. Even if you have an amazing looking resume and are perfect for the job, you could still be filtered out by the machines.
You may wonder why you were rejected. After all, you know that you have all the experience necessary to perform the job. You could send a cover letter directly to the hiring manager to try and get them to reconsider but there is really nothing they can do at that point. Even if they loved your cover letter and really wanted to interview you, HR will tell them that they cannot move forward with your application because you were already rejected by the system.
What to do instead
Right now, you are applying for jobs online, sending your resume, possibly a cover letter, and waiting to see what happens. You will be lucky if you get an interview this way. The odds of you getting filtered out by a machine are much higher than the odds of your resume making it through the filters.
Instead, you should search for the job online, customize your resume keywords for each job, begin networking on sites like LinkedIn and find out who the hiring manager is. Find pain points and reach out to them, pinpointing those pain points, in a cover letter.
If you want to find a good job you have to do more than just fill out online applications. You have to reach out to companies and hiring managers directly. Do your research on the company and send out emails and pain letters. Even though networking might seem exhausting, this requires less work than filling out job applications. It is also more likely to get you an interview.
Stop blindly filling out job apps
Stop sending out the same resume for every job you apply for. Stop sending out generic cover letters. Start networking with companies and hiring managers on LinkedIn. Start sending emails and pain letters. Start customizing your resumes and cover letters for each individual job. Most importantly, start researching the company and position you want to apply for before reaching out or filling out applications. Start reaching out to hiring managers.
Time for a change
Just like everything in life, things change. It’s time to change the way you apply for jobs. It’s time for you to take the initiative in your job search. Be proactive and show companies what you are made of and why you are the perfect fit. Don’t wait for your application to be rejected by an automated system. Bypass the system and get your name in front of the hiring manager!