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Why Is Applying To Jobs Online So Darn Complicated?

iStockphoto.com |  SIphotography

iStockphoto.com | SIphotography

Why is applying to jobs online so darn…. complicated?

Don’t believe me? Try it. Visit an employer’s career portal and select a posted position. Then click the “Apply Now” button.

Buckle in, because this is where it gets rough. Prepare to be bombarded with an endless procession of requests, mandatory fields, and seemingly arbitrary data to complete:

—>Create a Username and Password (required)
—>Upload your resume (required)
—>Enter your contact information (required)
—>Enter your address (required)
—>How did you hear about this position? (required)
—>What are your salary requirements? (required)
—>What is your willingness to travel? (required)
—>What is your willingness to relocate? (required)

… and on. And on. And on.

Then you’re asked to enter all the employment and education data from your resume that the system seemed to parse out of your resume when you uploaded it. Manually. Field by field.

In the end, you’re looking at investing around 30 minutes for each online application you fill out. It’s a process that’s painful and demoralizing, especially considering that thousands of other job seekers are applying online to the same job and the chances of your resume being seen by a human being are pretty darn low.

Why would employers do it this way?

Why would they put in place a process that is so deliberately opaque and difficult to navigate?

As someone who spent almost two decades as a recruiter, I can assure you that companies usually try to build hiring process with the best of intentions.

They want to be an employer of choice, and they want people to feel good about applying to their company.

But they also want their recruiters to be as efficient as possible. And with the average corporate recruiter responsible for filling an active load of 20 or 30 open positions, maximizing their time is essential.

So companies invest in Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). They use these system to store job descriptions, approve and process new jobs, and collect job applications.

The latest ATSs are pretty powerful technology. From an employer’s standpoint, one of the most valuable features of an ATS is the ability to incorporate extensive screening criteria so the system can review each application and rank each one against the criteria in the job description.

Look at it this way – how valuable is it for an employer to have the system sort through the thousands of applications, and provide the recruiter with a short list of 20 to 30 applicants who check all the boxes?

It’s great for the company in the sense that their recruiters are saving dozens of hours that would have been sifting through resumes. But if the ATS doesn’t have a strong data engine to parse, pull, and synthesize data from the resumes, employers will usually default to pushing that work on the applicants in the form of additional fields to complete. And ATSs make it very easy to add screening questions to an online job application – hence, the litany of qualifying questions and endless mandatory fields to fill in. This also doesn’t help the candidate experience.

Unfortunately, when it comes to companies that rely on ATS platforms for their hiring, there’s not much you can do to avoid the online application gauntlet. In fact, many employers tell applicants they won’t even talk to them unless they’ve first filled out an application online.

But there are actions you can take to make your online application more effective:

  1. Make sure your resume is ATS-friendly. In order to make it easier for the ATS to parse the data in your resume and hopefully avoid excessive re-typing, use a single-column format. Don’t include large tables or graphics as these can make a resume hard to scan. Even if you follow these guidelines, there could still be issues parsing data – if so, try saving your resume as a .txt file and uploading that version.

  2. Improve your chances with the search filters. You’ve heard about keywords - the technical and soft skills listed in the job description. Before uploading your resume, read the job description. Really read it. Identify the skills the company is looking for in this particular role and sprinkle these into the text of your resume.

  3. Don’t rely on your online application alone – shake a tree. There’s a lot you can do to get noticed. After applying online (sorry, you’ve got to play the game), try to identify the decision maker for the position on LinkedIn. Then send them a brief note – via LinkedIn or through email – to inform them that you’ve applied online, you have the qualifications for the role, and would love to connect with them. Your well-timed message can potentially put your candidacy front of center, regardless of how the ATS scores your resume.

  4. Work your network. It’s a big world out there, and there’s the possibility you know someone (or someone who knows someone) at the employer who can put your resume securely into the hands of the hiring manager. At many companies, good referrals carry more weight than a random online application.

  5. Let LinkedIn do the work for you. This is about playing the long game, generating interest in employers so that they pursue you and you spend less time chasing online job ads. Companies pay a lot of money for LinkedIn subscriptions that enable them to mine the system for passive candidates. Invest time in building a strong LinkedIn profile, loaded with keywords and accomplishments so that you’ll show up in their searches. And constantly grow and nurture your network with high-impact connections so that you elevate your online brand.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

3 Easy Strategies to Boost Your Chances of Getting Noticed When Applying for a Job Online

Getting a job is all about getting noticed. Employers want to find a candidate with the right skills, quickly.

But there's more to it than that. They want to hire somebody they like. And they want to be impressed.

Bear in mind, for every job that's posted online, there can easily be more than 1,000 applicants. If the position is with a highly desirable employer, or it's a really sexy-sounding job, expect the number of applicants to increase exponentially.

If you want your resume to be noticed by recruiters and hiring managers, you need to work a little bit harder than the average applicant. There's no guarantee your resume will be selected - or even reviewed - but there are some easy steps you can take to increase your odds.

First, a note about where your resume goes after you apply online; employers track their open positions and job seekers in something called an Applicant Tracking System. In short, this is a database that manages a company's hiring activities.

These Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS's) use algorithms to match job seekers against job descriptions, then rank the applicants for the recruiter who's reviewing all the applications. Every system uses its own algorithm, so there's no way to know exactly how it will rank you, but suffice it to say that a resume which more closely matches the terminology in a job description will most likely rank higher in the search results. By extension, if you're a recruiter and your time is limited, you'll spend your time reviewing the applicants who have been highly ranked by the ATS against the position, not those with low rankings.

That said, here are some strategies to increase your chances of getting noticed when applying for a job online:

  1. Apply early. If you apply within the first couple days the job has opened, it's much easier to stick out – you're competing against fewer job seekers. Hiring managers NEED somebody to fill their open position, and there's a good chance they're putting pressure on the recruiter to find them somebody quickly so they can mitigate the pain of having to do their employee's job as well as their own.
  2. Tweak your resume. Be strategic in reviewing the job description; try to understand terminology that the employer may be using. Review the job description for specific verbiage in describing the essential skills, competencies, or tasks required. If your background aligns with the requirements, tweak the terminology in your resume to more closely match, and then upload the tweaked version of your resume. This may influence the system to rank your resume higher.
  3. Locate an appropriate contact at the company and send them a note. After you've applied to the position, search through LinkedIn and try to find an appropriate contact at the company to tell them you've applied and about your passion for the role and the company. A LinkedIn premium subscription costs you a few bucks, but gives you great search capability and InMails (direct communications to people you're not connected to), which can be incredibly valuable during the job search. Be strategic about this - try to find the leader of the department you're applying to, or maybe the human resources contact, or somebody else in a key position in the company. Send them an InMail telling them that you have applied to the role (always after - otherwise, they'll direct you to apply online), a line or two as to why you're qualified, and thanking them for their help. I've seen notes like these bubble a candidate to immediate consideration whereas they were previously buried in the results.

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Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

 

Do I Really Need to Fill in ALL Those D@$* Boxes When I Apply Online For a Job?

Applying to jobs online is a chore.

First, you upload your resume. Then, there's about three million boxes to fill in asking minute details from your job history, to your favorite color, to which Marvel superhero you'd like to be. Its no exaggeration that filling out an online application can take 30 minutes to an hour. Or longer.

You would think that just uploading your resume would be enough. Couldn't you just type into the boxes on the online application, "See resume?"

You could. But you might really be hurting your chances at snagging the job, or even at getting a second look.

Here's why:

  1. Yes, your formatted resume is part of the package. But for the recruiters to do their searches, it helps when you fill in all the boxes, as you might add additional detail. In addition, recruiters might search by a specific field. For example, they might search the job history box for "Motorola" to see who worked there. If you just typed in "See resume," you won't come up on the search. There are a million ways to slice and dice your data, and you need to have your information in the right place to be seen. The good news is you can cut and past from your resume for many of these.
  2. It's a test. And the first thing a company will want to see is that you can follow instructions. If you don't enter in the boxes what they're asking for, you don't pass the first test.

Banal? Yep.

Boring? Absolutely.

Necessary? Probably.

Try to remember that job hunting can be a full time job. And some of that time is spent playing the game - which, in this case, means filling in a bunch of little boxes.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.