Tackling the Online Application Process

If you are one of the millions of job seekers that spend hours online researching the best way to prepare a résumé, only to realize that weeks and months later your efforts have yielded little or no results – you need to keep reading (this information is free). Have you ever uttered any of these questions to yourself?

How do I capture 25 years of experience, a lifetime of accomplishments in just two pages?
Why do I never seem to get a response to my online applications?
Why did the employer say I was under qualified? I have more than 15 years of experience!
They must be crazy – I bet they did not even read my résumé.
How do I know what the employer sees?
What am I doing wrong?
Can you help me?
If I can just get to the interview, I could explain……
Lets’ start with what is not the problem – the traditional, paper résumé. This is simply a snapshot of your career. A very brief summary of the key attributes, previous accomplishments, and industry related concepts that you offer up to the employer. This brief summary should focus on the skills associated with your current job target, and accompany you to the interviews or when networking. The visual can be creative, interesting and convey your administrative prowess in using word processing programs (it serves as your marketing document much like a flyer or a brochure).

Now lets’ cover what the problem really is. The majority of employers must use data management software to track applications. Times have changed and rarely will you find an opportunity to send your traditional résumé directly to Human Resources, or the hiring authority. The large majority of job seekers make their first mistake when they copy and paste the exact same information from the two-page snapshot directly into an online application program. In most cases, the job seeker prepares their résumé based on personal research, samples and formatting information found on the internet, guidance provided through resources in print, and with assistance from service providers in other forums (academic education offices, employment or career services, etc). If the traditional résumé is prepared based on these standard (dated) résumé development guidelines, much of the job seeker’s credentials and years of experience will evaporate into cyber space.

How this process works. The Applicant Tracking System, commonly referred to as the online application program or ATS System, is a computer based data management program designed to track applicants (hundreds and thousands). The ATS System manages data and screens the résumé of online applicants, or in most cases the information that the applicant ‘cuts and pastes’ into the program. The system parses or interprets the candidates information, summarizes the data, quantifies the years of experience in a particular concept (or key word) based on the job announcement criteria. If the candidate scores in the highest percentages as set by the program operator, the application is “flagged” for a person (HR Representative, Recruiter, or Hiring Authority) to look at.

Most online applications tell the candidate to [cut and paste your résumé here], Oh, and by the way, [upload your résumé here]. The first thought any job seeker has, is [why do I have to do this twice?]. The red flag is up and waiving, but most people just move on not thinking about the real reason. They go ahead and cut and paste the information from their word document (the résumé), wondering why they are wasting valuable time, but know they have to do it to finish the application. Well, the answer is quite simple – you are accommodating two different processes without knowing it.

Once the employer closes the announcement, the program generates a report for those who meet the minimum or preferred qualifications based on the actual job announcement. The “person” then receives a Qualification Summary; a report that portrays the computerized version of the résumé and outlines credit for experience based on the applicant’s skill set. As this “person” compares data on potential candidates, chances are they will identify a possible or perfect match. Then they may decide to print out the attachment (traditional résumé or word document) to learn more, and get an idea of how this person presents his/her self on paper (in a snapshot).

Now, we understand that the traditional résumé only serves as a snapshot of a job seeker’s experience and may not properly, portray all aspects of the experience gained over a lengthy career. Oh yes, consider that the fields provided in online applications can hold many more characters that allow you to adequately describe your skill set. That same data would never fit on a two page snapshot!!

PS – There are other secrets not listed in this narrative! Contact me to learn more!