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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.