Have you ever applied online for a position that you felt matched your skills and competencies and yet did not get invited for an interview, leave alone land the position? If yes, then all things being equal your CV was stopped by the online gatekeeper.
You aren’t alone. Reading some of the questions and comments on sites such as Yahoo Answers, Quora and Indeed, this is a prevalent problem for the earnest job seeker.
One discussion did catch my eye. It shows the frustration of the job seeker and the feeling that online job applications do not work.
“Just lost in a sea of wasted data. I understand that there is a lot of competition, but after 5 years I have never gotten an interview? At least? Something is very wrong with the system. I have always been hired when I walk into a blue collar job and get to talk with a manager on the spot. I am tired of working jobs I’m make too little to get ahead and I’m over qualified for.”
The job seeker mentioned that most of the job postings on the job search sites directed him to the company’s on-line application website. He mentioned going directly to the companies HR departments in order to by-pass the online gatekeeper but was told that they did not accept applications in person. In one case he was referred by a friend who worked closely with the hiring manager and still told to go through the on-line application process.
He concluded that the problem lay with the on-line application process that these companies used where programmers were told to only draw out CVs that triggered “keyword” or else the CVs would never get seen.
The post drew over 50 responses – some trying to help with ideas and telling the reality of online job hunting, some venting their own spleen and some reducing to blaming others.
Don’t blame it on the online gatekeeper –face reality or get bitten
If you are applying online for jobs without success, then it is time to face up to some truths.
Truth #1 – Technology is playing an increasing role in the hiring process.
This trend has been around for as long back as I can remember. I remember when one of the companies that I worked for downsized and quite a few of us needed jobs in a recessionary economy. So I called the Country Head of a major Executive Search Firm with whom I had done business hoping he could get me back into employment. After all, he knew me and we had worked across the table together. He was very sympathetic but he advised me to first set up my online account with their firm, complete my details and THEN revert back as they had certain systems that could not be overridden, not even by him.
I did the needful but by chance I got a direct offer from an employer before I got to test the system and see if it worked.
The point is that nowadays, most mid-sized to large companies are using the online application process because with the help of technology they are able to sift through 1000s of CVs to identify the ones whose content meets the job opening’s criteria.
Truth #2 – Bypassing the online application process may be more detrimental than beneficial to your candidature
One of the other reasons for setting up an online gatekeeper is to prevent hundreds of applicants inundating the inbox of the recruiter or HR department every time they post a position.
The exception to the rule is where the job announcement asks for an email to be sent with the CV and other documentation. In such a case you can do a follow up to ensure your CV has been received and even call before sending it to find out who needs to be addressed in the covering letter. Other than that, there should be no circumvention of the process.
Sad truth, but there have been instances of large companies being accused of and sued for discrimination while hiring. Even if you know the person who is doing the hiring, it is better to go through the process and via the HR department. The prospective employer would not want to appear partial or of committing any impropriety. Bypass their systems at your own peril.
What you can do instead to make the online bouncer let you in
Instead of focusing on how to beat the system, why not work with the system?
Your electronic résumé is important. So let us focus on it.
Accept it as a fact that when a position is announced, there will be thousands of applicants for it. Don’t believe me? Just check out a job announcement on LinkedIn or any job portal. If you find images and the words hot, know that there are lots of applicants competing for the opening.
Assuming that you are qualified for the position, your objective should be to rise above the noise and stand out.
- You already know that a computer is going to go through your CV looking for trigger words. So take a good look at the job posting and at your CV. Are there any matching skills with a different wording that can be changed to match the job spec?
- Computer databases utilize plain text and do not recognize any formatting other than indent and return. So unless you are also asked to upload a word or pdf document, keep your CV simple and make it easier for the computer to read and input into the right fields. Many portals allow you to review the input information before finalizing or ask you to upload the CV in word doc and then show you how it looks on the system. Make use of these opportunities to ensure that the information is placed in the correct fields.
- Avoid Functional CV formats because these are not online gatekeeper friendly and may not be properly read thus bouncing you out even before a pair of human eyes gets to see the CV.
Above all, do not blindly submit your CV or fill out job applications. Put some thought into it to improve your chances of getting the interview call. Even if that happy event does not occur quickly, there are other avenues of job hunting which is a topic for another day.
How about your experience with online job applications? Good, bad or ugly? Do share your experiences and insights with me. I’d love to read about them!
PS. Need more guidance on filling out online job applications? Acquire this special report and learn more. Click below on the image of the report.
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