Applying for jobs online take more than hitting submit!
Updated: Jun 25, 2018
Why isn’t anyone responding to my Online Applications? WTF?!
Let’s be honest, I’ve never gotten a job by submitting my resume to an online application. When I apply online I cross my fingers and toes. After a while, I just get a toe cramp. My first internship I received was from listening to a presentation in my math class. After the presentation, in real-time and in person, I approached Todd (The recruiter) to discuss how to get a role with his company. My most recent position was because I networked, emailed, and stalked people on LinkedIn. If we’re honest with each other, I applied for 3 years and got nothing but crickets until I started actively networking.
I’m not a rare case either. Most of my colleagues received their jobs through personal projects, personal connections, recruiters doing random Boolean searches, or a random Uber ride home at 1am with an executive from a random local company. A random beer in a random bar goes a lot further than most online applications.
Before I dive deeper into this conversation, I want to admit my own personal frustration. There were moments during my job search when I bashed my head against the wall, screamed into a pillow, cried, and had anxiety attacks. I hated the fact that I had been auto rejected from online applications I knew I would be perfect for if I was given the chance to interview. To be completely transparent, I started resenting companies for using a mere piece of paper that they may or may not have read to decide if I was the right fit.
After a while, I think people really have to accept multiple factors in the application process that are out of our control. Step one, I couldn’t force someone to hire me, and I honestly could not predict who I would be competing against. Also, most well-known companies receive hundreds or thousands of applications and most of those applications look similar.
Realizing this, especially as a recruiter myself, it might bum you out for a bit, but it also is a powerful thing to understand when evaluating what you’re currently doing so you can come up with solutions to actually get your application into someone’s hands.
I have tested out everything on the list, and since then, I’ve found myself more marketable, more confident in my skill set, and more successful in getting interviews. So, I’m going to attempt giving you my “How to get my application in someone’s hands 101.”
Does your application check all the boxes?
Please, don’t be naïve and assume your resume is perfect after you spent 10 minutes on your first draft. I spend hours looking at garbage resumes that make no sense or provide an overload of information without providing the crucial content that makes me feel like you’re a strong candidate. For some people, I believe that they spent hours crafting the “Perfect paragraphs” and spellchecking it so many times their eyes hurt.
What I mean about “checking all the boxes” is if you’re really customizing your cover letter and resume to the company you’re trying to land. Personalization goes a long way! Especially when you’re reaching out to executives and decision makers.
Your Resume in how you create first impressions!
Your resume or CV might be well-organized, bullet points are quality and quantified, and your length at the ideal one-page or two-page mark, but did you tailor it to the specific company and position? To be honest, I always tell people to use Jobscan to review their LinkedIn profile and Resume. Ninety percent of large companies use Applicant Tracking Systems to search for qualified candidates from large applicant pools. These systems help employers by analyzing resumes and CVs, surfacing candidates that best patch the position and filtering out those who do not. Jobscan has researched the top systems used by thousands of companies, and built their algorithm based on the common patterns among them.
Are you applying to the right jobs?
One thing you might not know, if you’re applying to a large company like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, you one-hundred percent have to meet the “minimum requirements.” For legal reasons, if you don’t meet the “10+ years of experience” mark you won’t be seen. Some companies, especially if they’re a federal contractor, have to follow specific OFCCP Standards. To best honest, it can be a pain, but that’s the reality of online applications.
Aside from legal, you shouldn’t be applying for jobs you’re not actually qualified to perform basics. It doesn’t matter how fascinating you find a company. You should not apply for a job running its website if you do not have any true technical skills. While it is definitely ok to throw a few applications to far reach jobs into the mix, it definitely should NOT be a focus. You would laugh how many applications I see for Data Scientist roles that are completely irrelevant. I had someone from McDonalds, no education, apply and say he could do they job if we paid for 12 years of school for him. While it gave me a laugh, it makes pipelines congested and ignored.
Are you reaching out to the hiring managers or employees to network?
This might be obvious to some people, but to others it might be new. You should always be following up with hiring managers for each position you apply to! Yes, you should actually know where you apply. Quality time spent trying to communicate with a company is going to be worth the investment. Spraying and praying isn’t going to work. Matter of fact, go the extra mile and find a few people in the position you want! Ask them to go to coffee and meet them. What does this do for you? It allows you to get insider information on the team, and allows you to build a relationship with someone that could help refer you and push your resume in front of a real-life, breathing, human-being.
You don’t care about social media, right?
Well, unfortunately, most of the world right now does! You are being judged whether you like it or not. To be honest, there are only a few critical sites that most people even look at right now: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Are you seen as a thought leader? Do you have connections with mutual people? There are a lot of factors that go into today's world.
I have sat next to recruiters that pass on amazing talent because they don’t have a social presence and assume they lack social skills (We all know that isn’t true, well, minus the 1% like that idiot). However, the moral of the story, people judge whether we like it or not.
Now, if you’re on social too much and have a rock-star lifestyle, you might consider limiting information the public eye can see by making it restricted or private.
Lastly, if you want hiring managers to feel confident in their decision to reach out, or better yet hire you, why not make a portfolio of your work? There are thousands of professionals with personal websites and portfolios that can provide more insight than a simple resume. These can be links to social channels, videos on YouTube of your TedTalk or other presentations, blogs with domain knowledge, or anything else that can convince someone you’re worth talking to.
Shane, this sounds like a lot of work! No thanks!
Getting a job in today’s market is highly competitive. If you’re lucky, you’re in software development where the unemployment rate is at an all time low. However, sometimes it’s not about getting just any job, it’s about getting the right job. It’s about getting the job you are excited to show up to in the morning. That’s the goal here. Getting a pay check is simple.
I used to run a painting company throughout college and one of the most important things I learned throughout that time was that prep work is everything. If you set yourself up with the fundamentals it will make everything else smooth. In addition, you’ll have a better product. Spend time learning about prospective employers. Brand yourself with the right content. Reach out and build valuable connections with people. Make yourself marketable to save you time and money! If you spray and pray and fall into a ditch, understand it’s probably because you’re not doing the prep work necessary to be found. In addition, you're going spend more time and effort in the long run.
Step 1. Be Found. Stand Out!
Step 2. Get an interview.
Step 3. Show the world what you’re made of and win!