Email is a great invention, even though it may one day end the long and happy life of the US Postal Service.
With the ability to send unlimited letters, to unlimited recipients, and copy superfluous people, the user that seems to truly suffer, is the job seeker.
Twenty five years ago, if you wanted to apply for a job, you would simply compose a letter and mail it to your company of interest. If the company was a class act, you received some type of acknowledgement that the company had received the letter, and that an HR person would be looking it over sometime soon.
But with email, companies can receive literally thousands of emailed résumés in one day. This makes it tough for the HR person to sift through and read the résumés, which is why many companies now use automated résumé submission.
Basically, you visit a company site, create a user account, answer the questions, and upload your résumé and cover letter. It is then processed, OCR’d, indexed with words from your cover letter, online application, and résumé, and placed in a database that is searchable by keywords. The HR person can then search the database and find the résumé that matches their requirements.
Well, that’s the way it works in theory.
If the programmer did not make the user interface easy and intuitive, it’s pretty much useless. I have seen this countless times. When programming one of these systems, you really need the help of the HR person. If you leave it to the computer geek, you’ll be sorry.
I often wonder how many really qualified people lose out on jobs, or are not even considered because they filled out the online application incorrectly, chose the wrong option or checkbox, or didn’t write a well defined cover letter or résumé.
On the other end, the HR person better know how to perform an appropriate search, or have asked the programmer to build customized searches (queries), otherwise, they will never retrieve the people they are looking for.
I know an engineer who filled out an online résumé and didn’t select 4 year college degree, but instead chose other because he had multiple degrees. The company never called him because the hiring manager only searched for 4 year college degree. He did get the recently vacated job months later, after he was able to speak to the hiring manager in-person.
So when you lose out on that dream job because your résumé only matched 18 of the 20 keywords in the query, next time, you’ll remember to cut and paste the original job ad into the cover letter so you can match all 20 required keywords.