I stared at the screen for what seemed like an hour.
“Do you have experience marketing software in a business-to-business environment?” the computer asked me.
I knew if I answered “No” to this question, which was the truth, I would probably be automatically excluded as a candidate for this job. No chance of anyone at this company that I desperately wanted to work for even looking at my resume. Forget about getting an interview. And it was a shame, because I knew I could not only do the job they were advertising, but I could excel at it.
But I wasn’t willing to lie. That would be a deal-breaker if I ended up being considered for the position. So, I clicked “No” and completed the rest of the online application.
Five minutes later I opened my email to find an automatically generated rejection message. I was not being considered for the position. And nobody — no human being — had even looked at my application or resume. The software the company used to manage the online application process automatically eliminated me because I answered “No” to that one screening question. Game over.
When Software Replaces RecruitersI understand why companies use this kind of software to screen out “unqualified” applicants. About 13 million people in the U.S. are officially looking for work. And a lot of people apply for jobs willy-nilly, regardless of their experience or skill set. The HR department simply can’t sort through all of the applications.
But software simply can’t do the job as well as a human. It can’t apply judgement and pass along an application from someone who meets nearly all the requirements. Or maybe the problem is whoever creates the screening requirements for these positions sets the bar unreasonably high, with the hopes of narrowing the pool.
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal says hiring managers now pile up so many requirements for jobs that it’s almost impossible to find someone who meets them all. The owner of a temporary staffing company quoted in the article calls it “looking for a unicorn.” He tells of a business he worked with that received 25,000 applicants for an open engineering position only to hear from HR that none were qualified. None! Nobody, out of 25,000?
Connections are KeyBut here’s the thing. If you really want a particular position, getting weeded out by the screening software should never stop you from going after it. I don’t advocate lying. I don’t advocate spending a lot of time trying to game the system.
What I do advocate is building personal connections inside a limited number of target employers. Organizations that are a good fit for you. You need to meet people — either in person, on the phone or online — who work at those companies so if you run into a situation where your application gets weeded out, you know someone who will help you go around the software and reach the hiring manager.