By: John Hutchins, Vice President of Client Services

Computer screening of candidates is here to stay, whether we like it or not.  Convincing large corporations do away with the perceived efficiencies and cost savings is as daunting as trying to “put toothpaste back in the tube,” as mentioned by my colleague.  Or to use yet another analogy, it’s like trying to swallow an elephant whole.  I, however, am here to tell you there is hope!

You can put the toothpaste back in that tube – all it takes is time and creativity.  You can eat a whole elephant – it takes time and you’ll need to cut it into bite sized pieces – but you can do it!  Likewise, it may take extra time and creativity, but there are things you can do in your job search to help you overcome the disadvantages inadvertently created by the overuse of computer screening.

  • Don’t rely on job boards. Relying on the job boards almost guarantees you’ll go into the black hole of computer screening.  Job boards are a great place to do research on what types of positions are available at a particular company, but are a terrible place to actually get a job.  Identify companies you’re interested in, research them on the job boards and then network.
  • If you don’t have a network, now would be a great time to start creating one.  Networking is the best way to get a job.  LinkedIn is a great networking tool for both staying in contact with people and for finding connections into that company you identified.  Ask them out for coffee and pick their brain about your target companies.  They may know someone.
  • Pick up the phone. Email is overused and easy to ignore or delete.  When reaching out to people in your network or hiring managers, don’t over-rely on email.  Pick up the phone and call the person.  You’ll likely get voicemail, but that gives you the opportunity to both leave a message and then send an email.  Be persistent – if they don’t respond after three days, try them again.  Persistence is required and usually rewarded.
  • Treat your resume like a proposal. When submitting your resume, tailor it to the position for which you are applying.  Use their terminology and highlight those skills and experiences that apply to the job.  This means taking some extra time and rewriting portions of your resume each time you apply for a position.  It will go a long way to helping you stand out from the crowd and may help you successfully navigate the computer screening problem.
  • Go old school – send hand-written thank you cards. After meeting or interviewing with someone, send them an old fashioned hand-written thank you card.  Again, email is overused and easy to ignore or delete.  A hand-written thank you card will get you noticed.
  • Celebrate small victories. Finding a job can be exhausting and frustrating.  Whether you like it or not, you have become a sales person and you are selling yourself.  Successful sales people celebrate the small victories to help keep motivated.  Break down the job hunting process into small steps and celebrate along the way.

The impersonal nature of computer screening is annoying, but think of it as an opportunity to set yourself apart.  While all those other candidates are unwittingly wasting their time submitting resumes through job boards, you’re meeting people and making progress towards finding that perfect job.  It may feel like you’re trying to put toothpaste back in the tube, or swallow an elephant whole, but you can do it!

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