We all know that the majority of companies want you to submit an online application or to upload your resume (or both); they are scanned through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to see how your skills, experiences, education and the like are a match to the job you are applying for. From the feedback I’ve gathered from clients I’ve worked with, this is a lesson in futility and it can seem as if your uploaded information has gone to ‘the black-hole,’ never to be seen again.
The ATS has become common-place in the hiring process as organizations attempt to deal with the volumes of applications they receive for one job; I had a recent client state that there were 1253 who applied for the position they did (it allowed the numbers to be seen) – it’s no wonder this person never heard back. I think there is no formula or cookie-cutter method to ‘beat’ these ATS’s as each organization inputs their own data differently; it can depend on what each is looking for in the job and for who is best-suited to fill that role. However, there are some guidelines that most career experts agree on in order to get you noticed and move on to the next steps; here are some guidelines to follow:
- Key Words – this is what the ATS is looking for; these are embedded in the job descriptions so it is vital that you really read them to pick them out and match them to your skills and experiences. This will not only ensure that you are qualified for the position but that you are matching skills to required skills.
- Formatting – the structure and style of your resume can determine if it gets read by the ATS or not (or a live person, for that matter). The cleaner it is the better, meaning that you don’t want too many lines or bullet points as they may not be scannable; the font and size also are important – use an alternative font, such as Tahoma, Verdona or Ariel as these can stand-out vs Times Roman. Also, putting the key words in bold will enhance the chances to get noticed (but not too many bold words).
- Don’t put in tables, graphs or pictures as they won’t scan and will automatically get your resume rejected; save them for the hard copy you will mail or bring in.
The more strategic and structured you are in your job search the better your chances of getting an interview and the less frustrated you will feel. By reading the job descriptions you will not only match your skills to that job but you will be able to format your resume in order to highlight what you have to offer, as well as help you to prepare for when you do get called for an interview since you will know about the job and will have answered how you are the best person for the job.
Now that we are entering the last two months of the year, there will be a lot of activity going on with the holidays fast approaching. While you may be planning your holiday fare and making your lists for gift buying and decorating, it might be time for you to think about adding a new job on those “To Do” lists. Starting off the new year in a new position, with a new company, or working for yourself might be what you need to start out 2014 with a bang.
Organizations have already been planning their strategies for the new year and know which positions are needed to help them advance their goals and to position themselves for growth and financial success. With that said, this is the time for you to take advantage of their strategies and to begin your job search now. Managers will be feeling less pressured during this time so they can focus more on their tasks, including bringing on new talent, so this is the perfect time to get noticed.
Here are some basics to help you jump-start your move to a new job:
1. Complete an assessment of yourself – including your skills, talents, accomplishments, etc., as well as of your preferred work environment and the industry/salary. You might want to SWOT yourself to get a better handle on what you have to offer an employer and what opportunities are out there waiting for you. Review all your job tasks, as well as your accomplishments/outcomes (with quantifiable numbers) and write them down.
2. Update your resume and social media profiles – be sure to add in all those accomplishments you listed above so you stand out; remember WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) so you can speak to the needs of the employer. Create your brand so you are easy to identify and then use that brand in all your written and social media sites. Update your LinkedIn profile with the brand tag line (be careful to not advertise that you are job-seeking), as well as your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Clean-up any detrimental pictures or comments (especially tags) as employers are checking these out.
3. If you aren’t sure where to look for a new position, you might check out: indeed.com, linkups.com, simplyhired.com, resumebear.com or startwire.com, to name a few. When you find jobs you are interested in, match up your skills to the ones the employer is looking for to ensure you qualify, as well as to list those skills in your resume so they get picked up by the Applicant Tracking System used by most employers.
4. Write a good cover letter that highlights certain skills or experiences you want the employer to notice, or to add skills/experiences you might want to bridge to your resume. You want to get an interview and this can help to increase your chances of getting noticed. Update your references or confirm with your current ones that they will still vouch for you.
5. Create a strategy for how you will go about finding a job, when/time investment, and a feedback system or log to track the effectiveness of those strategies. You don’t want to keep doing the same activity with no return on it. Include in your strategies internet searches, company websites, networking meetings, current contacts, chat rooms, LinkedIn groups, and your alumni association.
Following these steps won’t guarantee you a new job but they can catapult you into a new position by the start of the year. If you need any help, call today for a free 20-minute strategy session to get started! http://www.cyscoaching.com
Since we’re now in the beginning of the New Year, I thought I’d repost tips from when I was interviewed last January for an article in the Orlando Sun Newspaper. I hope these may help you to get serious about your career search or for reving up your career:
1. Set the intention – decide on what it is you want in your career – do you want to find a new job, keep your current job, change industries, move into a leadership role, be a better employee, or is this the year you will start your own business; being clear on what it is you want – and why – will help you structure your time and efforts more effective
2. Commit – to the process; what tools and resources do you need that will aid you in effectively managing your career
3. Assess – write down your skills, talents, abilities, interests, values, experiences or, in other words, what do you have to offer an employer ; also assess your preferred work environment – where do you your best work and feel happiest; what type of company culture aligns with your values and will support you
4. Research – who is hiring for the job you want and then explore the position you want – the pay, the benefits, the responsibilties and skills to see if you have them; look at the organization itself to assess it stability and offerings; what is the state of the industry you are in or want to move into
5. Set goals – what is that you want – type of job or position, company, etc.; be specific and exact
6. Action steps – define what activities you need to do on a daily or weekly basis that will take you to your goal
7. Develop a job search strategy – what types of job search activities will be most effective to use: Job boards; Published positions; Unpublished positions; Networking; Associations; Alumni Associations; Friends/family ; Direct contacts; Job Fairs; Recruiters/headhunters; Chat Sites; Company Websites; Social networking – LinkedIn, Facebook, Connections, etc.
8. Set up a specific daily activity log – how you will spend time in job-search mode on a daily basis; this will help you to keep focused and productive
9. Self-care – activities or interests that will help to keep up the emotional level; take time to destress, like taking a walk or listening to music
10. Support system – find support to help you when you might frustrated or discouraged, such as family, friends, a career coach or a job seekers support group
I don’t know if it was the recent moon phenomena we experienced or my bad luck, but I had yet another computer crash. This time, my operating system stopped working. No virus found so no explanation for it stopping. You can imagine my panic but this time it was not for my data- I smartened up and had my data backed up – but for the need to be connected. I am teaching an online course, so I definitely need to be accessible for my students. But I felt so lost while my computer was getting fixed, which was a day.
I see how people in job-search mode can become tied to their computers. It is common practice, and often the only port of entry, to apply for a job position by the computer. So most people become “hostages” to a computer as they spend time searching for a position that they feel they qualify for and then spend more time completing the online application. Then the wait begins to see if someone may read the information and if they call for an interview. It can be a very tedious and frustrating process, which is why a good majority of job seekers have stopped or lessened their time (now down to 40 minutes a day!).
So what is the answer? There is no one “right” way but doing nothing will solve nothing and leave you feeling more frustrated. But spending all your time on the computer will also leave you feeling just as frustrated. Getting out among people will help you – go to a networking meeting or a professional association meeting, volunteer or set-up some informational interviews. These will help you to meet people who either are in a position to give you a job or to connect you with someone who can. It will also get you back out in the working world which can give you credibility and confidence. You might have to ask yourself if you need to revise your job-search strategy (you do have one??) to include being out among the crowds. Getting away from your computer can be the ‘shot-in-the-arm’ you need to regain your professional footing and to connect with others who can lead you to finding a job.
Traditionally, the holidays are a time of great preparation as you are busy decorating your house with lights and ornaments, buying presents for those on your list, or baking goodies for the holiday meal. It is a time of parties and get-togethers with family and friends. It would seem that with all of this activity it is not the time to look for a job. But you could not be more wrong. The last couple of weeks can be the perfect time to find a job, as most companies are readying for the new year and are streamlining their focus and systems. It is also a time when their is movement aas people take other positions or make a move in some way. Organizations know of and could be planning for job openings that will occur due to expansions or new contracts that will create the need for workers.
This is not the time to be idle. Follow these tips, get yourself together and get out there:
1. Be targeted – focus on the specific job or organization you want and keep looking for ways to get in; look at company job boards and sign up for automatic notifications when jobs are posted
2. Be visible – get yourself out among people and let them know you are looking for a position or an introduction to someone who can get you in the do0r of an employer. This is not the time to be shy, especially if you are at holiday gatherings
3. Be indispensible – sign up for temp agencies or contract work; most employees want to be off for the holidays so this could be a way to get income as well as the lead-in to full-or part-time employment
4. Be a giver – this would be a great time to volunteer your services which can offer help to an organization and get your skills and capabilities noticed; you will also be developing good relationships that will put you in the forefront when openings do occur
Keeping your focus on finding a job during this time will help you to keep your momentum and emotional level up and keep you ahead of the those who believe there are no jobs to be had or that organizations do not hire during this time of year. This can be the time that employers are preparing and scheduling interviews for positions that will become available in January. It can also keep you in job-search mode which will give you the edge among others.
In an earlier post, I talked about doing the work in planning your career. If you are unemployed and looking for a job, you need to be able to answer the question if you are doing the work that it takes. It is tough out there but not impossible to find a job. But it takes consistent effort to conduct a focused, strategized job search campaign. It starts with knowing who you are – your skills sets – and how they will relate to a potential job and organization. Time and again, and it is more recently, that I hear clients wanting results but not willing to do the work it takes. It seems they want to circumvent the process and get instant results. Often, their expectations are behind the times – they do not understand how the new work-world is operating, which means they are not aware of how to go about finding a job to “fit” into this new world.
I am a vanilla type of person, which means I believe in the basics of most activities. You need to understand and operate on some tried and true practices and then you can add the flavors, so to speak later. I operate on the four steps to career management: assessment, of both self and organizations/industry; setting goals; developing action steps; and then creating a feedback system on how your job search activites are working. This is where the work comes in, particularly with the assessement part. If you don’t know your skill sets and benefits, or they type of job you want, don’t bother searching for a job or you will become frustrated and become unmotivated to continue. The other half of the equation is researching who hires for your particular skills and experiences and then learning more about those organizations to understand their culture, products/services or economic stability; looking at the state of the industry you want to work in; researching salary ranges; and any other type of information that would help you decide and focus on the direction you want to go.
Until you do this work, you will spin your wheels and delay becoming employed. Noone can help you do this part – it is all up to you. Doing the work on the front end will help you to better understand yourself, the direction you want to go, and help you to feel more focused and confident to continue on the daily journey and land the job you want.