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ATS Got You Down?

Applicant tracking systems frustrate job seekers more than anything

➔ Looking for a job is hard enough – especially when you’ve eclipsed the big 5-0 and you haven’t been in the job market for a couple of decades (or more.)

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, now when you apply for jobs your first interaction with that employer is with a machine. An applicant tracking system (ATS.) A robot. A computer that, even after “reading” your resume doesn’t know anything about you except that you either used, or didn’t use, some arbitrary keywords dreamed up by the hiring manager.

How do you cope?

What’s a body to do? How do you cope with the fact that, according to Jobscan, more than 98 percent of all Fortune 500 companies are using some form of ATS?

One potential strategy can be found in the previous sentence – if you were paying attention.

There is a strategy in football that says run the ball where they ain’t. If the defense overloads the right side of the line, run to the left. If the defense is in prevent mode with all of its defensive backs at least 15-20 yards off the ball, throw your passes short, underneath. Go where they ain’t.

If 98 percent of all Fortune 500 companies employ an ATS, go in the other direction. Go to the small companies. According to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE,) 98.2 percent of all American workers work for firms with fewer than 100 employees and firms with fewer than 20 workers made up 89.0 percent.

Best of all, most of those companies don’t have applicant tracking systems. By targeting small firms you’re much more likely to speak with a living, breathing human being. Human beings who can look you in the eye and make determinations about you by meeting with you, by speaking with you.

Not only will they tend to judge you based on who you are, they’re also a lot less likely to dismiss you out of hand because of your age.

Size matters. Small is good.


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