Are we on our way to becoming a world of job hunters acting like dating partners? If you read some of the recent articles on how companies, and some of the big job boards such as Monster Worldwide and Career Builder, are making their applicant tracking systems more sophisticated in attracting job applicants you would think so. Too bad this quest to make computers think more like people doesn’t work for job hunters! While Human Resources departments will continue to explore new software that would eliminate the thousands of resumes they receive daily to more efficiently match applicants to jobs, and act more like the Match.Com’s of the dating world, it doesn’t narrow down the odds for you, the job hunter, in your quest to get interviews.
In past blogs I have written that job hunters spend too much time online answering ads for open positions, and with a 3% to 6% probability of getting interviews using this approach your odds of winning it big is much better in Vegas. My basic rationale was that the screening process used by most companies, and applicant tracking systems, is a very intense one of eliminating applicants who simply do not match up to a job’s requirements; i.e, the magical key word approach. And even with companies making their applicant tracking systems more “fit” oriented, we know from past experience job hunters significantly increase their odds of getting interviews by networking their way into companies, and by having direct contact with the hiring managers!
So you can imagine my chagrin over these new online programs which promise to think like a recruiter or hiring manager in the selection of applicants to interview, and that somehow this approach will be to the benefit of the job hunter. Also, tied in with developing this new software that drives the matching of applicants to jobs is the increasing use of LinkedIn and Facebook by companies to create an even larger “picture” of potential candidates. For them it is like seeing the “whole person” without actually seeing the person. Of course, HR departments and the big job boards are banking on the attractiveness of such systems to make you believe you increase your chances of getting interviews. Don’t believe it, your odds are still 3% to 6%!
I like to remind job hunters who apply online that they could be the best thing since slice bread when it comes to being qualified to fill a particular job, but if they do not match up point by point to the job description, regardless of all the other great attributes or “fit” they would bring to the job, they will ultimately end up in the proverbial black hole, and likely not even hear back from the company. My concern is that while these new systems may become a better predictor of talent from the employer’s perspective they simply cannot capture the whole person. Only you, the job hunter, through direct contact with a company can convince a hiring manager you are the truly the right fit.
To further illustrate my point, I recently met with a client who wanted help with his interviewing skills. This particular client was getting most of interviews through online ads, but once face to face with the potential hiring manager things started to fall apart for him. His biggest obstacle was in his interpersonal skills. Everything from eye contact to easily sharing his accomplishments relevant to the position were difficult for him. And for a job where interpersonal skills are key in working with other departments, vendors and external clients it was evident he was not the right “fit” in the eyes of the hiring manager. So even if my client was fortunate enough to be sourced by a company using a sophisticated applicant tracking system to narrow down the field of candidates, he would still came up short on the interview, and will continue to do so as long as he relies only on answering ads.
So here’s my closing thoughts on this subject. While companies may now more efficiently narrow down their list of potential applicants to interview using this new technology to make their lives easier, it will not increase your probability of getting interviews – even with the best online presence. The best and most proven approach to getting interviews is still through your networking efforts and contacting the right people at the right level within your targeted companies, and that is where you should be putting the most time and energy into your search if you really want to increase your odds.