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Back in the day, human resources was humane. It’s hard to believe that there used to be real-life, actual people who read CV’s, responded to the submissions and spoke with job seekers. Yes, I know this sounds crazy, but it’s true. I’ll blow your mind some more; hiring managers and in-house corporate recruiters would prepare candidates before an interview, provide feedback and offer constructive criticism to help the job seekers perform better in subsequent interviews. They would manage the applicants’ expectations on how long the process would take, how many people they’ll meet with and the best way to present themselves. There was no such thing as “ghosting” in the those days. If a person was not offered the job, someone at the company would offer feedback as to why.
Fast forward to today, the trend has dramatically changed as corporations are frantically adopting technology in all aspects of the recruiting process to drive out traditional human interactions. It seems like they are trying to use the software to get rid of older, more-experienced (code word for “more expensive”) HR professionals. The results have made this process colder—devoid of all humanity and kindness. It has also left job seekers feeling like products and not people.
The proliferation of job boards, job aggregation sites and the emergence of LinkedIn and Google for Jobs have made it incredibly easy for candidates to email and submit CV’s—and lots of them. While this seems good for candidates at first blush, the reality is that now people can submit CV’s to dozens of jobs very quickly. They don’t have to worry if they fit the requirements for the role. By firing off dozens of CV’s in a scatter-shot approach, they hope to get a hit. LinkedIn introduced an “Apply Now” button on its job postings that doesn’t even require a CV’s to be submitted and automatically forwards the person’s LinkedIn profile directly to the potential employer. An industrious job seeker could respond to over 100 job listings in under an hour using this option.
This trend has completely overwhelmed the human resource divisions at many companies. To ease this burden of the deluge of CV’s, corporations implemented application tracking software systems. This so-called sophisticated technologically is supposed to screen the CV’s and simplify the process. The unintended consequence is that job applicants don’t know if anyone has actually received and reviewed their CV, leaving them feeling bitter about their experience with the company. The candidate worries, “Where did it go? Did it fall into the black hole of the Internet? Is the CV hidden in an unopened email buried at the bottom of the hiring manager’s overflowing inbox? Am I not a person, but #3093 in an internal online database? Is it stuck in limbo on an intern’s to-do list?”
The official, corporate public relations response is that the applicant tracking software systems scan CV’s for contextual keywords and key phrases, then mathematically score them based on relevancy and send on the most qualified CV’s to humans for review. The reality is that the technology is designed by cold-blooded software engineers and programmed to be efficiently unemotional, ruthless and callous toward you.
Maybe I’m old school, but I don’t want us to lose our humanity to technology. We need to fight back to regain our dignity. After conducting extensive hours of research (Googling stuff) and speaking with a number of important industry experts (basically, friendly recruiters and HR professionals who hold strong opinions, so it’s kind of not scientific at all), I have developed useful tips for getting around the evil, robot screeners. It turns out that there are simple hacks to fool them.
Have hope! The robots have not won yet and we will outsmart them!
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