There’s a lot of buzz in the job search world about applicant tracking systems and how to get past them. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find tons of advice about how to “beat” them by stuffing your resume with keywords.

Here’s what those articles don’t tell you:

  1. There are hundreds of these systems on the market and they all work differently. Not all of them parse and sort resumes in the same way. There’s no method that will get you past all of them.
  2. The ATS is an inherently flawed system. Yes, it makes it faster for employers to sort through resumes, but that’s it. It does absolutely nothing to lead them to the best candidates. It simply leads them to the person who put the right words in the top 1/3 of their resume.

This is just another reason why it’s so important to not rely only on job boards in your search. You are limiting yourself to only a fraction of the available jobs, and you are relying on the strength of a few words to get you the interview.

For job search success (and to bypass the ATS as much as possible), I want you to follow this simple formula with every job you apply to:

  1. Search for the job posting on LinkedIn and see if you have any connections at the company. Don’t assume that you don’t, look!
  2. If you have no connections, see if the company has made it visible as to who posted the position. This will be on the right side of the job posting. If they did, send that person an InMail to introduce yourself and ask for their email address so you can send them your resume directly.
  3. If you don’t know who posted the job, do an advanced search for people who work at that company. If the job posting indicates the title of the person who the position reports to, then contact that person. Otherwise, search for someone with a job title in recruiting or HR.
  4. Before sending anyone an InMail, always look at their profile to see if their email address is on there-sometimes it is! Email addresses are even better than InMails. And of course, phone numbers are even better.

Your goal in all of this is to identify someone involved in the hiring and start a conversation. Connecting with them on LinkedIn is a great way to start, but ask for their email address to directly send your resume. Not everyone will respond, but many of them will. You’d be surprised.

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