Although the job market is way better than it was just a few years ago, it’s still no picnic trying to find a job that is a match for both your skills and the culture you want in a career. After all, it’s about more than just filling a ROLE for you, you want to find a place where you can grow, plant your flag and build the base for your future endeavors.
That’s a lot of pressure on every resume you send out, every cover letter you write and every interview you go on. We’re compiling some of the best advice for candidates out there on the internet in the hopes it will help you during your job search and beyond. After all, many times we find ourselves on both sides of the interview desk as our careers progress.
Navigating the ATS.
There are a lot of articles aimed at recruiters and HR professionals around how to maximize investment in the Applicant Tracking System but someone seems to have forgotten to tell APPLICANTS the ins and outs of navigating an ATS successfully. Consider this rectified!
An Applicant Tracking System is the little sorting robot who matches your resume to the job openings to which you applied. If your resume is formatted incorrectly or it cannot see the parallels between your resume and the job posting, it could send you a rejection letter before your resume is ever seen by human eyes. This is one of the reasons that so many jobseeker focused posts will encourage you to call after submitting a resume, include a cover letter and ensure you receive a receipt of your submission. Because like nearly all robots, ATS are prone to making mistakes a human might not make.
For jobseekers, consider the following to ease the pain of applying via this as-yet-undisrupted method:
Use phrases and terminology from the actual job posting.
While not a foolproof method to ensure you’re getting seen by a pair of human eyes, it gives you a better chance than most. Even the most basic SEO knowledge can help you here, since many systems rely on semantic or phrase search, meaning it may not realize that InDesign proficiency means you understand and can work with the Adobe Suite. Being a marketing manager in your past role may not match up with business development coordinator unless you use phrases and titles the computer can match together easily.
Have your stuff together.
Many ATS are older, which means if you accidentally hit the back button or take too long when building your online application, you might get kicked off and all your progress is lost. While companies SHOULD pay attention to their candidate experience (that’s YOU) and try to make it as painless as possible, on the backend, many of these systems are duct-taped together to try and form a complete system, which means changing one can bring the whole house of cards down. So until that issue is fixed, remember to have all your documents ready and waiting when you sit down to apply for that dream job.
In days past, we told candidates to look up the teams and hiring managers on LinkedIn and check Facebook reviews, but today’s candidates have even more inside information to gain! From Glassdoor and FairyGodBoss to Comparably and Kununu, there are reviews on companies, teams, hiring managers and even interview experience. It’s that last bit that can come in handy when you are interviewing for a company. Get the inside scoop from people who have aced the interview (and those who haven’t). Another great place to research is Quora!
Of course, all these come along with the same advice you’re used to hearing, like ensure you have a receipt from your submission. No matter what your recruiting friend tells you, a cover letter is still appreciated by the majority of recruiters and thank you emails (not handwritten notes) are noted by hiring managers. If you can get past the ATS, and you spend the time to truly look at both the posting and the career site or FAQs page, you have a much better chance of making your way into the job of your dreams!
Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, a full service marketing and advertising agency serving the HR and Recruiting sectors. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the recruitment and talent space.