There are three words these days when spoken together make me cringe: Applicant Tracking Systems. My skin literally crawls at the thought of them. Here’s why... As a career coach, I’ve know for a while applicant tracking systems companies are using to store and search through candidates have been producing poor results. This WSJ article further proves it. (My favorite part is where the HR person applied for a job in his own company and didn’t get past the ATS!) The technology not only hurts the employer’s chance of getting the right talent for the job, it also makes those applying feel like total failures. I’d call this a lose-lose situation, wouldn’t you?
Only 2 Ways to Fight BackAs a job seeker, you only have two ways you can outsmart the ATS.
- You can skip applying online and network your way in so the hiring manager gets your resume and cover letter through referral.
- You can try to create a resume specifically for each job you apply to online by stuffing it with keywords that will match what the ATS is looking for. (This process is very labor intensive and still doesn't guarantee success.)
The Real Solution: Your Interview Bucket ListInstead of worrying about the ATS, I say focus on your Interview Bucket List. By strategically networking with companies you admire, you will build relationships and trust that can lead to you being introduced to hiring managers. It’s far more effective and rewarding because you:
- Are motivated to connect with people at a company you respect.
- Will see faster/better results from your networking because you feel aligned to the people you are meeting through your shared admiration for the employer.