There has been an alarming trend in the hiring process for companies to use and rely heavily upon technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and sophisticated software, such as applicant tracking systems (ATS). While well-intentioned, this development has greatly harmed candidates in their job searches and lessened the chances for many people to get an interview or job offer.

How This Trend Took Over

It’s a complicated matter. There has been phenomenal growth in the proliferation and use of job aggregators, corporate career sites, Google for Jobs, LinkedIn’s easy apply feature, niche and old-school job sites and other online venues. Everyone has a smartphone, desktop, computer or tablet readily available at all times. The combination of the ubiquity of job listings and the easy means to apply to a job listing creates a scenario in which human resources and talent acquisition professionals are inundated with résumés. It is nearly impossible for them to review and respond to each and every résumé.

Most major corporations have deployed ATS platforms to screen and weed out résumés. They’re programmed to search for keywords that closely correlate with the job description. The goal is for the AI to match the candidate who possesses the required background, skills and experiences with the job. As anyone who has ever used technology, it doesn’t always work the way it was intended.

The Unintended Consequences

With the costs associated with purchasing systems, subscribing to services or building out a customized ATS, companies have balanced the costs by cutting down on their senior professionals involved with the hiring process. Many have been replaced by junior-level associates in cost-saving initiatives.

The combination of technology and the juniorization of the staff involved with the process has led to disgruntled job seekers who feel that the system is rigged against them. There are loud complaints that the software penalizes people. There are angry assertions of ageism, sexism, racism and other discriminatory practices inherent in the process. It’s also viewed as being cold, impersonal and the antithesis of what human resources is all about.

Here’s What You Need To Do To Fight Back

The answer to this dilemma is to embark upon a different strategy. Instead of playing someone else’s game, you need to do things on your own terms. You have to bypass the system. You can’t rely solely on the way things work. If you’re only filling out long, glitch-ridden applications that invasively ask for personal information (that’s most likely sold off to third parties), sending résumés into the black hole of the internet and then hoping that it gets past the robots and the review of a person who may or may not understand what you do, the odds are stacked against you.

The key is to take control and empower yourself to network. If you notice a job listing that you feel is appropriate, find someone who works at the company. Disclose to them your high level of interest and ask if they could get your résumé into the right person’s hands. Provide your ally with talking points, so they can sell your attributes to the hiring manager. The manager is probably as frustrated as the job seeker. They’re not seeing a flow of relevant résumés, especially in this tight labor market. The supervisor is likely to strongly desire someone to quickly fill the open role, as the work is piling up and the rest of the team may be getting overwhelmed, which could potentially cause them to start looking themselves.

By finding personnel within the company to champion your candidacy, it gives you more leverage. Studies show that companies prefer candidates who are recommended by internal employees. It will also make you stand out from the crowd. You’ll have a personal agent lobbying on your behalf—compared to the manager reviewing hundreds of résumés without any color on the personalities of the applicants.

This approach isn’t guaranteed to always work, but is another useful and important tool to get yourself in front of the right people. This strategy will help increase your chances of getting noticed, chosen for an interview and, ultimately, getting the job you want.

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