In today’s day and age, Applicant Tracking Systems are a necessary evil in the quest to get hired. As a recruiter, I have to deal with them daily. While I’m sure it’s “unprofessional”, someone really needs to say it…
Applicant Tracking Systems suck.
There, I said it.
But you probably already knew that.
If you’ve been a job seeker anytime recently, you know the drill. Congratulations, you have become a number. A megabyte. If you have a lengthy resume, maybe even a gigabyte.
You take the time to complete obnoxiously long online applications, only to receive the near-immediate “we’re sorry, while your qualifications are impressive, we’ve decided to move forward with other candidates who are better suited to the position.” Yada, yada. Or you never hear from them ever again. Your application has been effectively lost in the digital Black Hole. You know, probably with all of your lost socks from the dryer. I’m convinced Lost Sock Land and the Digital App Black Hole are the same wasteland of dried up dreams.
The problem is there is no conversation being had between two people. Or any people. Humans!
So what do you do? Take the blue pill and escape the ATS matrix. Time to get creative and personal. Trust me, it will pay to be unusual here.
Stalk the Hiring Manager. No, I don’t mean show up at their house. If you decide to do that, forget my name and don’t call me from jail. Seriously, though. Stalk them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Don’t know who it is? LinkedIn is a great tool. A simple boolean search for “Desired Company” AND “HR Manager” can yield great results. Or Human Resources Manager, Director, etc. Get creative.
When you find them, connect with them. (Make sure YOUR LinkedIn Profile is buttoned up!). Send a personal message, start a conversation.
Send a Love Letter. Once you’ve found the Hiring Manager, send them a personally signed “love letter” along with your resume. And I don’t mean send them a standard cover letter. Send a personalized letter drafted just for that position, for that company, to that specific manager. Make references to the achievements or any commonalities you found when you stalked them. Did they go to the same school as your brother? Talk about it. Talk about them as a person. Make the process human again!
I know this all seems time-consuming, and it is. But let me share this. Nobody does this anymore. It’s that letter that lands on my desk from the mailroom with my name on it that I read. I stop everything I’m doing to read every word of that special person who cared enough to find me, start a conversation with me, and write to me. I can only imagine every other Recruiter and Hiring Manager out there would appreciate the same.
Don’t know who the Hiring Manager is? Send it to the HR Department. It’ll trickle down to the right hands.
Befriend the employees. Employers spend so much time and effort on job boards and postings, but the truth of the matter remains that most hires come from employee referrals. Somebody knows somebody that knows somebody. So, it stands to reason that if we want to get hired, we should know somebody.
Again, professional stalking comes into play. Find the employees and strike up conversations. Online and in person. Remember, let’s not show up at people’s homes just to say hello. But are the employees involved in professional groups, extracurricular activities, etc? Find out. Ask for introductions online and in person. Join their LinkedIn groups and participate.
Make a video. It sounds crazy, but make a love video. No, not THAT kind of love video! A video like a love letter (see above), but a video. Upload it to a private Youtube channel or the Cloud and send the link. Might be a little creepy, but I can guarantee you, you’ll be unforgettable.
Bribe the staff. Find the office, makes friends with the receptionists, and bring candy. Or cake. Or fruit bowls. Or whatever. The receptionist/front desk coordinator/secretary is usually the unrecognized backbone of the company, and also the person who knows and talks to everyone. They ignore sales people and prospective applicants, but they don’t forget gifts. A little appreciation and attention goes a long way.
These are just a few of many tips of how to break out of the ATS matrix and get noticed. The times are not “a-changing”…they’ve changed. If you want to be left in the electronic dust, then don’t complain about how people don’t call you back. Maybe your qualifications and keywords aren’t an exact match for a position, but I guarantee that if you start making an effort to start “relationshipping” in “real life”…you’ll start having real conversations with real people, too. Who hire real people.
Then that Applicant Tracking System will be the very last thing you have to worry about. For Onboarding as a New Hire.