The Ugly Truth about Online Job Applications – Part 1

Woman typing and looking at a computer display.At last, you are ready to roll, and now it’s time to apply for that big job.  You diligently search all the online job sites and position postings at the companies in your field.  Although those online applications can take longer to complete than a millionaire’s IRS 1040 tax form, you carefully fill out each one, making sure every required field has just the right entry.  Finally, you attach your resume and cover letter, and click the Submit button.  Done at last!  Then you wait… and wait… and wait yet some more.  Days, then weeks pass.  Nothing.  Not even an automated and insincere “thanks, but no thanks” response.  It’s like your online application and attachments simply went into a cyber black hole.  What happened?

Congratulations!  You just experienced the frustration felt by many, if not most, job applicants today who are forced to apply for positions using an online Applicant Tracking System (ATS).  An ATS is designed to electronically sift through all the job applicants for a position and identify only those few who the software believes is the best fit based on parameters established by the recruiter.  Although your resume and cover letter may have been written with the quality worthy of a Pulitzer Prize, it doesn’t matter; odds are, human eyes never even saw your application materials.

Say what?  Don’t people in human resources (HR) departments even read applications anymore?  What is going on? Continue reading

Job Shadowing Can Save Time, Money, and Remorse

Man standing and facing very large shadows.Recently, I had the privilege of serving on a panel to judge presentations given by high school seniors regarding their career and educational plans. Over the course of several days, I listened as graduating students, accompanied by their PowerPoint presentations, detailed how they planned to pursue their careers, continue their educations, and achieve various personal goals in their lives.  The high school had made online resources available to students to assist them in learning about which careers would be consistent with their personal interests and desires, and the students then investigated what it would take to enter those careers, looking at the educational requirements, finding out which colleges offered applicable programs, etc.

As you might expect, the goals were as varied as the personalities and interests of the students who envisioned them.  Some planned to enter the military to gain experience, travel, and receive college assistance benefits. Others saw themselves pursuing lengthy and academically challenging paths ultimately leading to becoming physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and other healthcare providers. Some sought to become self-employed entrepreneurs, mechanics, accountants, or involved in various creative arts. Continue reading