the ingenious technology employed by recruiters of ATS (applicant tracking systems) software, it’s easy to get your job applications filtered right out of the hiring line up, just by not understanding the process of digital recruitment. To ensure you know enough about the era of technology driven recruitment, use and remember the tips included below.
Note: You may want to press CTRL + P and print yourself out a copy of this page as a reference to look over each time you have to fill out an online job application. Or bookmark the page for faster access when you need it. The 10 Tips to Use for Failsafe Results in Online Job Applications
Every time you submit an online job application, your entire details are logged there forever. Get this wrong and it’s the wrong data a company has on you. The era of digital recruitment is continually advancing at a frightening level for job candidates to keep up with.
The software applications themselves are implemented by large companies and agencies alike. It’s a cost effective way for businesses to lower their recruitment costs by using software to filter out unqualified candidates, and those who haven’t taken the time to structure their applications in the format instructed in the job posting.
It’s done with filters.
You’ll know how they work, if you’ve done any shopping online. Groceries to gifts, you have filter options. A simple search on the biggest online retailer lets you see with your own eyes how simple this is. Put in whatever you’re looking for in the search bar on the Amazon site, look down the left hand site and filtering is one click simple.
Recruiters using ATS software have the same simplicity to filter your application right out of the hiring process. You need to know the rest of the tips below to ensure your application is not in the “filtered out list”.
The one thing you want to do with every job description is to get a feel for the person that’s constructed it. The job posting itself has been inserted by a hiring professional. Every star quality they require is contained in the job description.
Use what you have at your disposal and go beyond that. Get to know what the recruiter is looking for and research the company site itself. You’ll want to tailor your approach to the individual, while ensuring you have the company needs addressed to.
The content you have on your CV as well as your corresponding cover letter must interlock with the job description. Match your cover letter and CV to the content contained in the job description, and you’ll pass the first filter.
It signifies laziness and can put you out the running.
It’s the simplest test for a recruiter to insert into the process to eliminate potential candidates out the running, as it only requires one word in the description field. A click of the mouse to filter out applications with no covering letter, can eliminate applicants with even a top performing resume attached.
Don’t let that happen to you. The covering letter is the simplest thing to keep you in the running. Tailor it specifically to the job requirements, using your skills, credentials, past accomplishments, and describe why they’re applicable to the job you’re applying for.
Benefit orientated is the key here. The first thing your cover letter does is get you past one filter when it’s used, and then it’s the first introduction the recruiter has to get to know you. It’s read even before your CV is opened.
As with any software used for search purposes, it revolves around key words. When you know what those key words are, you’re sure to get your application spotted higher than others as you’ll have addressed the specific requirements the company is looking for. Here’s an example to ensure you know how to spot key words.
They’re underlined in the mock-up job listing below.
We’re looking for an administration assistant to work in the Kent area of London, within the public sector.
Two years experience is advantageous. Attention to detail is critical in this position as it involves data entry. For security purposes, we require all candidates to pass a CRB check at a cost of £44. Working hours – 9 – 5. Pay rates at £8.00 PH, rising to £9 after 3 months work trial.
Just from that super basic job listing, there’s a few key words in there that you can use to supercharge your cover letter.
Simply tailor it to address your past experience with administration work… your address should have the postcode to meet the “Kent” area requirement. CRB check should be mentioned, if only to address the issue of who’s going to pay for it.
For the experience aspect, the two-years can be addressed specifically, but dependent on the software – putting five years experience may still be filtered if it’s not that great. Some systems use exact filters which need you to address the key words exactly. If the scenario crops up that two years is a requirement, and you have five, word it as you have “more than the two years experience,” as well as “attention to detail” is where you excelled in your previous data entry experience.
Finishing off with you’d be happy to offer your assistance on a 3 month work trial basis. That sort of information ensures you have important key words incorporated into your cover letter, demonstrating you’re proficient with “attention to detail” being noted by the recruiter when they read over it.
With digital applications, always triple check your work before hitting submit. Use your MS word, or whatever writing program you use to spell check your work. Switch to other programs, such as Google Drive to use their free spell checker online.
For grammar, there’s a number of free online grammar checkers you can use. These help you identify areas where you’ve used “your” instead of “you’re,” or “their” instead of “there”. Words that spell checkers don’t pick up.
Typical pet peeves of recruiters is when you just stated you work with attention to detail, and then contradict that in the same sentence. When you’re spell checking your work online, anything underlined red, can typically be associated with software not picking it up.
As a failsafe – use both. If you have an ECDL certificate, use the full wording and abbreviation. ECDL – European Computer Driving License.
While it’s good practice to tailor your resume and each covering letter per job application, you shouldn’t change your profile in the same fashion. Each application you submit into an ATS database is stored there permanently.
When this gets confusing is when you resubmit an application to the same company with a different job opening, with a new user profile. When you submit your cover letter and CV, while that may be filtered out, your profile remains in the company’s database of previous applicants.
Altering that creates confusion and could have your profile confused with someone else. When your applications reach a stage of your profile indicating multiple submissions for recruitment, it quickly becomes clear you’re enthusiastic to be working with the company you’re applying to. It shows you’re consistent!
Keep your profile the same for each company you apply to and that’s going to ensure that all your efforts to work with them are logged and easily accessible and attributed to your efforts.
What you never want to do is fall into the lazy filter. No matter what fields are required in a job application – fill them out in their entirety.
It may seem that you’re only repeating what’s already contained in your CV, but that data isn’t always the first to be searched. It’s often the fields on the application itself that companies will filter first.
If you’ve skipped a field, that may or may not be marked as mandatory, it could be counted as “missing information.” Therefore, filtered out the process. Fill in every field, even if it feels like repetition.
When recruiters reach your CV, it’s often just scanned anyway. The filters will have already done their job in short listing your application.
Chances are you can be found online via Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Tech savvy companies use this data to their advantage and check your identity and professionalism through these channels. You may have noticed parts of online job applications asking for these profile links.
This is used as part of the recruitment process in some companies. Take Facebook as one example of social identities where you view the about page of someone and it shows “job title at company name” Employers with a professional brand recognition online need to ensure they have staff who are well presented in a professional manner at all times.
If you’re posting stuff around the web that would turn employers away from hiring you, then you may need to ramp your efforts up to clean up your digital identity on social media. Make your profiles an area for employers to be proud to want you associated with their business.
When recruiters are interested in inviting you to an interview, you do not want to have your former employer listed as your current employer. It can indicate that you’re back at work and rule you out of the invitation to interview stage. Everywhere you can be found online, be sure that’s indicative of your current search for employment.
The first time you put together your application, you should be doing it with a word processor and not directly into the fields of an online job application. Filling out online forms this way is the easiest way to submit an unreadable document with grammar and spelling errors galore.
On the same note, once you have drafted, checked and revised your application, when you’re copying and pasting it into the fields online, put it through notepad, or a similar plain text editor, as some ATS systems can strip out formatting, leaving it unreadable anyway, through no fault of your own.
Once you’re absolutely certain it’s of sound quality and easily readable, check it against the job description again. Check your cover letter, your CV, and the online job application individually, to be of the utmost certainty that you’ve a tailored application addressing the needs of the company.
Follow the 10 tips above for every online job application you’re submitting, and you can rest-assured that your application will never be filtered out the process, before a hiring manager, or a first-line recruiter is able to read over your application. You’ll also find that through the sheer proficiency of your efforts and knowledge of online job applications, you’ll increase the number of interviews you’re invited to attend. That’s when you start to see results, and start pulling in job offers, putting yourself into, or back into paid employment again.
Possibly with the opportunity to hand-pick which job offer to accept, when you have different options on the table.