#2 - You must understand the game in order to play the game.

This is the second of a six-part series that will highlight 6 things you can do, right now, to make your job search much, much more effective. If you've been struggling with a marginal-at-best job search for a while, it's time. If you're just setting off on your job search path? It's time. Part two, for you.

#2 You must understand the game in order to play the game.

You're a job seeker. And you spend a lot of time, each and every day, applying for jobs that you see advertised online. Diligently.

Yet it doesn't seem to be working.

And you're getting really really REALLY frustrated.

And your family is scared.

Which makes you feel terrible. And angry. And scared, too.

So you get up earlier, and spend MORE time, each and every day, applying for jobs that you see advertised online. Diligently.

I'm not going to spend a bunch of time right here explaining how this type of job search is incredibly inefficient today. I'll go there in Post #3.

Instead, I'm going to ask point blank:

Do you know what happens to your resume and application once you press the send button?

Do you understand how your resume will (or won't) travel through an organization when you apply for a position online?

If you plan to apply for positions advertised online -- through a corporate website, a job board or another online resource?

You must understand the game.

For you cannot play the game well, any game, if you don't understand how the game works.

So here you go. A cheat sheet for all who utilize this search method:


  1. Your resume arrives into an organization (the corporation you want to work for, or the recruiting agency that advertised the position), typically straight into a general HR inbox.

  2. Next stop, the applicant tracking system (ATS). What's this? In short, it's a database that HR uses to store, sort and select potential candidates. How do they do this? Most often, an HR representative takes a job description, chooses what appear to be "key terms" from that job description, then programs these terms into the ATS. The ATS then finds those resumes that best align with whatever HR has told it to look for.

    Simply put, the first set of "eyes" on your resume are not human eyes. It's the ATS. And it will serve you extremely well to make sure that resume you send over utilizes the same key terms that you see in the job description. Do not lie. But if you are skilled at the types of things listed in the job description? It more than behooves you to use the same verbiage.

    Else, you may be ruled out by a robot. Before your resume ever reaches a human. Not ideal, huh?

  3. Now off to the humans. Congrats! You made it past the ATS and your resume is now on its way to a set (or a few sets) of human eyeballs. Yours, along with a stack of other similarly qualified candidates. Whose resumes have lots of the same key terms as yours.

    What now? Now you need to make damned sure that your resume is the full-on standout in that pile. Otherwise? It's just going to blend right in with the other people who knew how to put the "right" key words on their resumes. Not ideal, huh?

    You, of course, achieve this by crafting an engaging, succinct, accomplishment-based resume that very quickly explains your "so what?" to that person reviewing your resume.

    And assuming you've done all this well? You get an invite. You're on to the interview.

What a pain, huh?

Well... yes. But if you are already, or you plan to, apply for jobs via blind online mailboxes?

You must understand the game. Or you may as well not play the game.

You ready to go full-on and land the job you truly want and deserve? Then stop flailing, and start planning. I can help you. On April 4, I will launch a new ebook, To Whom it May Concern: Or, How to Stop Sucking at Your Job Search. Consider it your job search BFF, all rolled into one tidy and affordable ebook. It'll walk you step-by-step through the process of calming down, crafting a game plan, and then executing a job search strategy that will actually work in today's crapola economy. If you're interested, be sure and sign up for the To Whom it May Concern mailing list.   I'll be offering all of my subscriber peeps a hearty discount on the goods during a pre-launch, which will go down in just a couple of weeks. See you over there!

Photo: Flickr.com Creative Commons (ksionic)