Not getting interviews?

I recently came across an article on Forbes.com titled “Six Months, 200 Applications, No Interviews: What Now?“. The gist of the article is a job seeker has applied to several companies over a few months and has never heard back. The author responds with her reasoning on why she believes this is:

The online application systems adopted by most medium-sized and large employers during the nineties and the first decade of this century are the problem. They don’t work.
They screen tons of people out but almost no one into the process …The use of Applicant Tracking Systems is undoubtedly the worst-ever use of technology to solve a strictly human problem.

Insert huge /facepalm here. Although I agree with her that yes, applicant tracking systems are broken and are a huge problem, I hardly agree with her that applicant tracking systems are THE problem.

The biggest flaw with her advice is that it is not advice at all! She is basically agreeing with him and then getting up on a soap box shaking her fist at the corporate man. She goes on ranting about a problem that he has no control over! If anything, it just exacerbates the pain he already feels without giving him any real advice or action plan on what else he could do differently.

Yes, applicant tracking systems are a problem. But… here is what you CAN do to address this wrench in the hiring game.

  1. Re-evaluate the job description
    1. How long ago was it posted?
      1. If its been more than a month, they might have filled it or are already interview folks and not looking for more candidates.
    2. What were the requirements and preferred skills?
      1. If its a competitive position or company, chances are they won’t look at your application unless you meet the preferred skills in addition to the requirements.
  2. Check Your Resume
    1. Are the skills listed in the requirements section explicitly stated in your resume?
      1. This seems obvious, but its all too often overlooked.
      2. Sometimes we understand the position so well we think that a recruiter also will understand it the way you do.
      3. IE: Your resume says “Wrote code for a web application” but the job description says “Must be a front end developer with experience in javascript”.
      4. Be as precise and exact as you can when it comes to technical skills.
    2. Does your objective/profile statement match the job description?
      1. If you are applying for a management job, your objective shouldn’t say you want a role as an individual contributor.
      2. I once had a candidate send me his resume with an objective “To obtain a software development position at Yahoo!”. That’s fine except the job was at Google. Big no no!
      3. Tailor your objective to each job and company.
  3. Get Help
    1. If all else fails, it’s okay to ask for help.
    2. Resume writing is its own craft just like your career is. If you are an engineer, you likely went to school to get a degree and then had several years of experience to master your craft.
    3. A professional resume writer or career counselor can help you pinpoint exactly what needs fixing and help you get back on track.
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