If you’re on the hunt for a new position in the corporate world, you’ve likely been lured by what appears to be a simple and straightforward application process. You see a job you’re interested in on a corporate website or job search site, you click the “apply here” button, start to upload your resume and figure you can get back to that dreary job you’re dying to leave within a matter of seconds.
Except it doesn’t really work that way. As anyone who has tried to apply for a position online these days knows, the reality is often a time-consuming and mind-numbing process that forces you to re-enter information you’ve already got on your resume. Depending on the company, you may be asked to list the names and contact numbers for three references, cite your college GPA, and enter in the dates you attended graduate school classes.
A single application can take up to 30 minutes and even then, you may encounter a system error and have to start all over again. If you’ve been fortunate to ride out the downturn in the economy and you’re just now thinking about looking for a new job, you should know that some corporate HR directors continue to have more applications than they can possibly screen.
I recently asked my sister, a corporate HR director and former recruiter, what a woman can do to get her resume noticed in a system that seems to have taken the “human” out of Human Resources.
1. Customize your resume to the job. Read the job description several times and be sure your resume contains the same keywords or related content.
2. Be specific. Every applicant tracking system operates differently in how resume influx is managed. Sometimes there are pre-screening questions that are asked as part of the candidate’s submission. Do not skip these. The “expected response” is often weighted, or scored, creating a short list of candidates for the recruiter to pursue first. While you can’t predict the “expected response,” chances are no response will fail.
3. Track the status of your application online. Some systems allow candidates to view the status of their applications. If you received an automated email response upon completion of your application, your resume was received. If you didn’t, there may have been an error in the process. Log back in and try again.
4. Signal your willingness to negotiate. If the application asks for a number value for “desired salary,” entering a false number like 0000 will allow you to complete the application while alerting recruiters that you wish to discuss the actual number. However, always use actual numbers when asked for salary history. Many companies today conduct background checks to verify salary information.
5. Follow protocol. Even if you’ve sent your resume to a friend or contact within the company, it’s always a good idea to follow the process and apply through official channels. Stay positive and patient. Recruiters still have many more candidates to vet for each opening and the process takes time.
Have you had success applying for positions online? Do you have any questions about the online application process? In my next post, I’ll share some expert advice on how to use LinkedIn to enhance your job search.