« Watch for the Valentine's Day scam that'll empty your wallet | Main | Just what makes a "good" real estate investment? »

February 01, 2022

Is your job application being swallowed up by tracking software?

Have you ever applied to a job online?

Stock-photo-15624810-resumeYou might have – some 800,000 Canadians were without job at last check – and found that it’s a mystifying enterprise. Seven, eight times out of ten, you’d have to guess, an applicant spends an hour on his application, uploading résumés, filling out blank fields and writing a custom cover letter, only to send it off and that be that.

You click send, you never hear again.

Time and time again this has either happened to you or someone you know, and there’s a reason: most every company worth its salt these days uses an applicant-tracking software, which automatically sifts applications based on keywords and formatting.

Here’s how to ensure your job application doesn’t get lost in the tracking “black hole.”

A recent feature in the Wall Street Journal lifts the curtain on the grim reality of how job applications at big companies are received, and it ain’t pretty.

*Bing: Things never to say in a job interview

By the estimation of one industry source, the proportion of big companies that use applicant-tracking software is in the “high 90 per cent range,” adding that it would be “very rare to find a Fortune 500 company without one.”

It makes sense, though. Human resources departments can only do so much, and when you’re a big name like Starbucks or Procter & Gamble, you’re swamped by people yearning for your employment. Over the past 12 months, Starbucks has attracted 7.6 million job applicants for about 65,000 job openings. At Procter & Gamble, nearly a million people threw their hat in the ring for just 2,000 new positions last year.

So how do you stand out, knowing that, according to the Wall Street Journal, only about one in four applicants ever actually reach the point where a human being reviews their application? A few tips, from the WSJ:

1) Forget about being creative: Save your anecdotes on this part of the application; instead, mimic keywords on the job posting, as tracking software likely searches and responds to the use of such verbiage.
2) Learn the company’s culture: Check out the employer’s website to learn about what its mantra is. If a business is enviro-friendly, include such buzzwords in your résumé. Again, if you don’t trigger the tracking software, your application may never reach human eyes.
3) Brag, if you can: Many tracking software programs award bonus points for prestigious schools. If you can’t claim this, name-drop that you’ve taken a night or continuing studies course (if you have) at a school that’s moniker is likely to impress a machine.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...