Q&A: Do Companies Pay Attention to Online Applications?

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Q:  I’ve been filling online applications for a long while now becuase most places don’t do Q, in’s ..so yeah do they actually give online applications a chance or even read them at all?
-Q

A:  Q, as you have probably discovered, applying for a job, whether online or in person is a gamble.  In reality, like with paper applications, a great many of online applications never get read by the person seeking to fill the job.  Managers are faced with the task of finding, interviewing, and training a new employee(s) while continuing their daily responsibilities, which may already be overwhelming.  As you can imagine, a great amount of filtering must be done, if positions are to ever get filled.  To address this issue, companies have instituted the use of computerized workforce solutions, called applicant tracking systems (ATS).  An ATS simplifies the recruitment life cycle for employers by automating the entire hiring process, from receiving applications and reviewing resumes, to interviewing candidates and on-boarding new hires.

Statistics show that ATS’s are now used to fill more than 70% of all open positions.  Whether you submit a resume via email or complete an online application, chances are, your resume is being downloaded into one of these databases.  

Here’s how it works.  The ATS scans your application, cover letter, and/or resume using the criteria that the hiring manager has selected as most desirable for a candidate.  In many cases, your application is assigned a rating.  The hiring manager then queries a report of all candidates matching at least the minimum desired score and these are selected for further review.

This might be very discouraging, but wait!  There is something you can do to better your odds.  Here are some tips to beating these digital gatekeepers:

1.  Customize your resume to each job you are applying for.
2.  Read the job description thoroughly and utilize relevant keywords from the job posting on your resume and cover letter to increase your chances of being seen.
3.  Keep the formatting of your resume simple to ensure that the software is able to locate key information on your resume (limit graphics, boldface, italics, special bullet characters, etc.)
4.  Use common headings for the various sections of your resume (i.e.  Contact Information, Summary, Professional Experience, Education, Training, Certifications and Skills). The software will be looking for these.

For more tips, see:

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