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Not Getting Hired Online? Blame the Robots


If you’ve been applying online for jobs you know you’re perfect for and not getting anywhere, sadly, you’re not alone. With the move by many HR departments big and small toward Applicant Tracking Systems (a.k.a. ATS applications), your application might be getting lost in the computer shuffle. Here’s how to get around our robot overlords.


(Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary/Flickr)

1. The computer doesn’t care about your keywords.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

While many tipsters will tell you to paste in keywords from the job notice, ATS software these days isn’t looking for just applications that say “synergized” and “budget surplus.” What they are after is your “resume narrative.” Take the time to really look at what your resume is saying about your career, gulp, journey over the years. Are you just pasting in the bullet points of an automaton, or do you have more to say about the place where you spent the bulk of your time every week?

2. You can’t network with the computer.

Sites like LinkedIn or even your local networking bar night are going to do more for your job search than the Careers page of a company’s website. Make those in-person connections and you’ll do better than the froth of applications that HR groups skim off the top of their inbox. Write personal notes, heck, even pick up the dang phone and call those connections when you really want the gig.

3. You can’t be a special snowflake to a computer’s cold, dead heart

Let’s face it, computers are good at finding us cheap Ramen noodles, but even Facebook can’t get an algorithm right these days. How are you going to make that all-important first impression to a machine? You’re not. If the cards aren’t in your favor and you have to apply online to a job where you know nobody, at least take the time to brush off that cover letter template and make it something special. Talk about what you can bring to the company (don’t just insert their name into a tired sentence). Do your research. Know why they’re hiring someone for the role. And have one great story about how you saved the day for a previous job. Everybody loves a winner, and coffee is for closers.

Tell Us What You Think

How do you clear the computer recruiter hurdle? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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