Job seeking doesn’t have to be a game, but sometimes it is
The dreaded Applicant Tracking System – ATS – has become the bane of all job seekers, regardless of age.
To begin with, let’s look at a third-party (Wikipedia) definition: “An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment and hiring needs… (they) are designed for recruitment tracking purposes. In many cases they filter applications automatically based on given criteria such as keywords, skills, former employers, years of experience and schools attended.”
The real world of job seeking
Now, with that out of the way, let’s look at the real world. We recently heard one mature job seeker refer to ATS as a “game.” Similar to what the definition says, employers erect screens to weed out applicants, and the applicants try whatever tricks that they can muster to get around those screens.
Our friend went on to say that ATS is the front door and most (if not all) employers also have a back door. And that’s where your creativity and networking come into play.
If you find a position (or company) that interests you, while you may still want to play by their rules and provide a submission to the ATS, but the real gold will be found through your networking contacts or your first-level LinkedIn connections.
Those individuals will know about the job; they’ll know with whom you should be speaking about that job; and they may be able to provide some insight as to how to successfully get your foot in the door. Whether traditional or digital, it always seems to come back to networking.
In the end, if you know how the game is played, you’ll have a much greater chance of winning.