July 19, 2018
July 19, 2018
Have you been applying for jobs, and getting frustrated by the lack of response? It’s become a common problem, so you can take at least some comfort in knowing that you’re far from all alone with this dilemma. The only way to get around it is by understanding why it’s happening, and then developing strategies to overcome it.
Do you ever wonder why employers no longer want you to mail in a job application or resumes, or make application in person? It’s not that employers have become antisocial. It’s all about technology.
In the same way that companies are increasingly going “online,” both in providing products and services, and in providing back office support, the same thing is happening with the employment process.
Employers are looking to both streamline the hiring process and to eliminate the number of employees (and their salaries) required to manage the hiring process. They can do this by requiring prospective employees to make an application online. Once they do, their applications are subject to computer algorithms. And that’s the reason why a non-response is the most typical outcome of a job application.
The employment algorithms use screening techniques. You’ve probably heard about this in the past – the algorithms search for certain keywords and key phrases in the application. They may decide that there are 30 such terms that apply to a specific job. For your application to get past the screening process, they may require that you match at least, say, 20 of those terms.
If your application contains only 15 or 10 of those keywords or phrases, your application will be rejected without further consideration or even notification.
So that’s the problem – what’s the solution?
The use of employer algorithms to screen out applicants is practically insurmountable for the majority of job hunters. Only the most qualified candidates will make it past those computerized screening processes. If you want to have any hope of getting inside the door, then you’ll have to go in through the side door, rather than the front door.
That will require a great deal of creativity. The usual methods of getting an employer’s attention, like sending in resumes or filling out applications won’t work. Even the much-heralded shotgun approach – mass mailing your resume to hundreds of employers – is unlikely to work. The screening systems are just that good.
This computer algorithms function as a giant gatekeeper, and there’s no way to beat them. But you can go around them, and that needs to be your strategy. That means reaching out directly to specific people within the organization. Even though the hiring process has become completely systematic, locating a single referral within an organization could be your ticket in.
How do you go about locating that referral?
Networking is really about getting out and about, and around people. But where employment is concerned, you’re looking for specific groups of people. You certainly should network with groups of people who are employed either in your industry or in your specific occupation.
But in this day and time, you’ll have to go farther than that. You should also attempt to get into networking situations with people in related industries and occupations.
One of the problems with networking in a group of people in similar job capacities is that each is competing for the same jobs. From a networking standpoint, the better strategy is to network with people who are in only related capacities.
For example, if you want to get a job in the marketing department of a company, networking with salespeople who are employed with the company could open the door into marketing.
This could be done by identifying which organizations you want to work for and then finding people who are already employed there. Exactly what they do in that organization may be less important than the fact that they’re already working there. If you become friendly with one or more people in the organization, they may provide you with just enough of a reference to open up a few doors.
Despite the use of computer algorithms, many jobs are still filled by referrals. A person who already works in a company, even if they are not even close to the position or department you want to work in, can be a valuable referral. Any referral on the inside of an organization has the potential to move your candidacy closer to the top of the pile of applications.
It’s often possible to take part in certain activities that will get you noticed by potential employers in your field. There are different ways to do this. One is to write articles of interest for trade magazines and websites. Those articles will be read by people in the industry, including potential employers. It may offer you an opportunity to open up a line of communication with someone in a position to hire you.
There’s also a flipside to that arrangement. You can contact the people who write articles on these websites and magazines. Most will have some bio at the end of the article, that will indicate where they work and in what capacity. They also usually provide an email address, and that could be your in.
If you do make such a contact, it’s important not to state your need for employment immediately. Rather, to engage them in a detailed discussion, either about the article written by that writer or about parallel issues. Demonstrate your knowledge, and keep the conversation going as long as you can.
At some point, the discussion may turn to you personally. The writer of the article may want to know a little bit about you, including what you do for a living. That could lead to an opening for you to inquire about employment.
Even if there are no openings in the writer’s organization, you can continue the communication on an ongoing basis, and periodically inquire about employment, or even ask if the writer knows of other opportunities in competing companies.
It’s a bit of a complicated process, but it’s increasingly the only way to reach the people in the organizations that you’re trying to find a job in.