You fill out a job application you find online. You wait. You wait some more. Then you realize that after you hit the submit button, all that information you spent hours (or days) perfecting might as well have been submitted to a paper shredder.
Online job listings are necessary to get the word out and sometimes are a matter of legality, but let’s face it. They suck. The chances of landing a job you applied blindly to online are very, very low.
That doesn’t mean you should give up hope. The trick is learning how to beat them. Here are our best tips:
1. Translator anyone?
Job postings usually list very specific skills that they want you to match. And maybe you’ve seen that posting before? Probably. Companies do steal job postings to save time. So, don’t discount yourself if you are not a word-for-word match (nobody is).
At the same time, don’t expect yourself to be Superman. If you own those desired skills, or if you know you can learn them fast, go ahead and apply. But don’t expect to transform yourself into a Photoshop wiz in your first week if that’s what the job entails. You’ll get weeded out quickly if you’re missing key competencies. Focus on jobs that match your skill level first. There is a chance that those vague descriptions can be applied to what you can bring to the table, champ. It’s hard to tell though, and it’s often best to ask a seasoned person of the workforce to translate what they’re asking for. Oh, and desired number of year of experience? 1-3 years in work speak can mean beginner. 3-5, intermediate. 5+, you better be able to rock it.
2. Just kidding.
It’s so often that a job posting is actually already filled, or about to be. Companies often have to post job openings for various boring reasons, but it’s pretty common they already have someone in mind. It might be someone who currently works at the company, and it will just be an internal hire. Or it might be someone who sent a personal email introducing themselves to the hiring manager. When you have hundreds of people applying for the same job, a hiring manager will go for the names he or she knows. Try to be that person.
Super Employment Opportunity? Sort of. Considering SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in your application will make you stand out when recruiters scout resumes and cover letters. There are these fancy systems called Applicant Tracking Systems that allow recruiters to do this easily and efficiently. So, you need to optimize your application with keywords so you won’t get ruled out in their system. (Pro-tip: Keywords are often hidden within a job description). Everything these days is computerized, so you should always edit your materials for the digital world or it’s unlikely you’re application will be considered, or seen.
4. Don’t expect feedback.
As much as you want to hear back from a job application, even if you didn’t get it, you probably won’t. It’s not because you’re not a potential match, it’s because they get hundreds of applicants and only have the time to respond to the finalists. If you do receive the rare and elusive job application reply, you can always ask for feedback from the recruiter or HR team member. Even though you’re not receiving replies, don’t get discouraged. Everyone experiences this. The most important thing is to keep applying and don’t hold back while you’re waiting to hear back.
5. LinkedIn for life.
We’ve established that responding to job postings is a tedious and usually unrewarding process, but that’s whyLinkedIn is your obsession. Right? Right. LinkedIn is a beautiful thing. You can essentially have your profile be your resume. Plus, it shows all those awesome connections you made. You’ve probably done some Facebook stalking. Yes, yes you have. So put your skills to use on LinkedIn and search for the recruiters at your company of choice to establish contact. It is the best way to get your foot in the door.
These obstacles definitely don’t apply to every company, and, often, smaller companies are much more likely to respond to their postings. But to avoid the abyss that is the internet, make an effort to reach out to a real person. Why? Because people hire people.
Josh Jarrett is Chief Product Officer and Co-founder of Koru, the leader in predictive hiring based on what really drives performance. Josh has spent his whole career using data to drive business outcomes at organizations as diverse as McKinsey & Company, the National Park Service, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.