Behind the Career Page: The Online Application Process

As a little collaboration with the gals at Talent Collective, I am doing a guest-blog series for them called “Behind the Career Page” where I tell it like it really is from a recruiter’s perspective.

Here is my first post, originally posted on Talent Collective’s Blog here.

Remember the good old days when you could just send your resume in via email and you know — at the very least ended up in someone’s inbox? Now where does that application show up?

In order to understand, it’s important to know how a role gets posted in the first place.

1. There had to be a need. This is either a backfill (ie. someone leaves) or a new role. The recruiter will work with the hiring manager to develop a list of requirements based on the question“What is the work we need this person to do?” and work back from that. 📢 This is important.

2. A job description is drafted and posted to the career page on a company’s website via an Applicant Tracking System. The role is shared between the manager and the recruiter — who both have access.

3. Screening applications starts. The first pass at applications is done by one of those two people (or in some cases a junior recruiter.)

Screening applicants is as simple as scanning the resume to see if it matches the requirements of the job.

There’s only one question I’m thinking about when screening:
Does it look like this person could perform the work?
If yes, they get added to the short list. If too many people look like they could perform the work, then it’s back to do a second screen and narrow the number of candidates selected for phone screen. Typically I like to select 8–10 people for phone screens. Keep in mind, if 60 people apply for a role, maybe only 10 of them are getting selected for a phone screen.

Now, onto the important stuff. How can you make your application stand out?

  1. Use the job description.
    I am literally telling you what I am looking for by putting a job description out into the universe. This is why people say that you should tailor your resume for the role — because the more your resume looks like my requirements, the more likely it is I will select you for a phone screen. There is no secret language here. If I am asking for project management experience, make sure you highlight your project management experience and show me an example of that.
  2. Make your resume easy to read.
    This is a matter of personal opinion, but please please please do not do a competency based resume or try to be creative with how you depict your narrative. Just like you are used to reading a page left to right, I am used to reading a resume chronologically. I’ve seen some beautiful and creative resumes that still allow me to quickly assess your qualifications. I am trying to do my job as quickly as possible and if I have to work extra hard to figure out your story and experience, it’s not a good thing.
  3. Show your personality!
    I don’t know about other companies, but at Fatigue Science, we like people with personalities. So be yourself, and own it. Say something interesting. I have short listed someone for a role because I was interested to meet them based on their resume.
    You would not believe the amount of bot-like resumes that I see in a week. So when someone makes me smile, or does something to show their personality, while keeping it professional, that counts for a lot.
  4. Don’t be so rigid.
    Don’t get too caught up on having the perfect number of years of experience or the exact list of skills on the application. If you are passionate about the role and you bring something unique and amazing to the table, apply! And let that shine through! But having said that…
  5. Don’t be discouraged.
    I know this is frustrating to hear, but applying for jobs is a lot like dating. I know what you have to offer is amazing, but it won’t be amazing for everyone. So don’t be discouraged if you are applying for roles and not hearing back. The right role is out there for you.

Trust me when I say that someone is looking at your resume. Someone is seeing all the effort you put into applying for our job and we appreciate it. The trick here is understanding the process and make it as easy as possible for the recruiter to choose your resume. Happy hunting!


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