The internet has created many advantages for today’s job seeker. You can receive custom alerts from a variety of job posting platforms to be among the first in the know of new opportunities in your field; you can conduct research on sites like Glassdoor to learn more about a prospective employer; you can post your resume to niche websites; you can even conduct research on salary and benefit norms. Yet those great benefits brought about by technology also have a downside – everyone else can do the same. Just about everyone has access to the same tools and employers are now inundated with applicants (qualified and unqualified) for almost every job posting.
Before the widespread use of the internet to post and apply for jobs, candidates had to look for positions the old fashioned way – searching the classifieds, making phone calls, and spending hours going office to office of prospective employers. While these old fashioned methods may still exist in some places for some positions, there is a growing trend among job seekers and organizations to use technology to tailor their search to try to a find good fit. Employers are able to post a new position to multiple platforms with a single click and job seekers enjoy being able to submit their application for a hot new job right from their smartphone. It sounds like a win-win, but unfortunately that’s not always the case.
Many individuals lay the blame for this disconnect solely on the employer. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of opportunities for employers to improve the job seeker experience with their technology platforms. Employers should recognize and work to counteract the impersonal experience felt by jobseekers who are interested in their job opportunities. At the same time, employers must comply with increasingly complex regulations on how applicants are reviewed and handled for each job opportunity. This means that recruiting systems are no longer “nice-to-have” systems to streamline processes, but, rather, have become “must-have” systems to aid with legal compliance.
So how can a job seeker overcome the challenges presented by technology:
- Read the job descriptions thoroughly (don’t just look at the job title and apply). If you’ve got certain experience the employer is looking for, be sure your resume reflects that experience. Employers are able to program their platforms to automatically sort through recently added resumes and newly signed up members. They use keywords and other criteria to quickly identify candidates that might meet the requirements of the position they are recruiting for. This is just one reason why tailoring your resume is so crucial. If an employer’s system is searching for a specific keyword or phrase, say, a certain programming language or certification, if your submission does not contain that word or phrase, it will never even be seen by the recruiter. That could happen even if you have the exact skill of certification that the employer is looking for. But due to their filtering system, your resume is never seen, and you are never contacted. On the other hand, if your resume does contain what the employer is looking for, some systems are capable of immediately generating a message to you and alerting you to the position and inviting you apply or look into the position. Remember, an omission of certain experience an employer believes is crucial, may result in your resume getting set aside. When there are possibly hundreds, or, in the online world, thousands, of prospects, these details make a huge difference.
- Leverage your network and look for hidden connections. Despite being directed to apply online, people can and do use their connections to facilitate introductions to decision makers within an organization, and you should, too. Reaching out to professional contacts can feel awkward – especially if you’re not used to doing so as part of your job search. Like most things though, these interactions will become easier the more they occur. You’ll find that most professional contacts are eager to help a former colleague or business associate land a new opportunity.
- Call the decision maker or job poster directly, but don’t monopolize the call by trying to force an interview. Unless you are explicitly told that doing so will jeopardize your job search (it rarely does, by the way), a quick phone call can be an effective way of giving your 15-second elevator speech. Don’t just say, “I’m following up on my resume.” Use those seconds to communicate a few critical pieces of your career story, such as “I’ve got experience with this [something referenced as a highly valued must have in the employer’s posting]” or “I have worked on these types projects [relevant to the employer’s industry/services], and was excited to see this position become available.”
Though technology has made it possible to search hundreds or thousands of positions from dozens of companies all over the globe, all without leaving home, the job search is not necessarily easier than the days of going office to office just to ask if they had any available positions. The process has just changed. In an increasingly competitive environment, it is critical to make sure you spend the time to read the job posting, gain as much understanding about the position as you can, and tailor your application to highlight your qualifications for the position. Those modern recruiting systems are incredibly advanced tools capable of wonderful things, they are still operated by human recruiters at the end of the day. These recruiters are inundated with resumes, and can spend hours sifting through them. Because of that, they are likely to spend only a matter of seconds on your application and resume before they make an initial decision. Whether you like or dislike it, like or dislike recruiters, and like or dislike the new systems, you want something that they have – the job. So, take every action you can to make your job search successful. It is worth the effort to land the job of your dreams.