Tag Archives: job search

4 keys to a successful mock interview

One of my clients told me recently that the mock interview I conducted with her was the best experience she’s had preparing for interviews to date. This was after a session where I reviewed her performance with constructive criticism, at times brutal honesty.

mock interview2

I understood my client’s sentiment, because I also think a mock interview is extremely effective, if done correctly. I’ve conducted hundreds of mock interviews over the course of my tenure at the urban career center for which I work.

You don’t have to be a career advisor in order to conduct a mock interview. You can be a friend or relative. But to successfully conduct a mock interview, you must cover the following four components.

Keep the interview itself short

The length of the mock interview should be no longer than 45 minutes; you’ll want to give yourself time to play back the recorded interview. The playback gives the client and you the opportunity to address the strengths and weaknesses of her performance.

The goal of a mock interview is not to make it the length of a real interview. Where the real interview might be a marathon, the mock interview is akin to a sprint. It is intense and just long enough for the client to get the idea of how she performed. Additionally, the interview part itself can be exhausting if it is 90 minutes long.

The mock interview should be filmed and played back

If possible, you should should film the mock interview with a digital camera. The old saying the camera never lies is true. Not only is it important for your client to hear the content of her answers and the tone and inflection of her voice; she also needs to see her body language and other nuances.

Your client, and you, may forget the answers she gives. Filming the interview allows both of you to hear her answers again. You can comment on her answers intelligently and accurately. For example, “Your answer to this question asking why you left your most recent position is a bit too long,” you may comment. “And refrain from blaming your supervisor if possible.”

Seeing her body language can be even more important to your client than hearing her answers, particularly if her body language is extremely poor. One of my clients came across so stiff that he didn’t move his hands the whole time. His eye contact was extremely poor, as well. He recognized this because of seeing the recording and vowed to correct his body language and eye contact.

Usually I don’t have the time to get through the entire playback, but this is fine. I ask participants to bring a thumb drive with them so they can review their mock interview at a later date.

Clients must take the mock interview seriously

Be sure to make this clear before a few days of the mock interview. Tell your client that it will be treated as a legitimate interview. Setting this expectation will ensure that the atmosphere will be professional.

This begins with something as simple as dressing the part. I can tell when a client is serious about his mock interview by the way he dresses. If he comes dressed to the nines, this is a good sign. On the other hand, if he comes dressed in a tee-shirt and shorts, this is a turnoff.

The participant must also have done his research. For example, if you ask, “What can you tell me about this company, and why do you want to work here?” it is unacceptable for him to tell you he will know the answers in the “real interview.” No, he must see the mock interview as a “real interview.”

Your client must be an active participant. I will ask for my client’s input during the playback of the mock interview. This is his opportunity to comment on the content of his answers, as well as his body language. As the interviewer, you don’t want to give all the feedback. It’s important that the participant does some self-critique.

You must also take the mock interview seriously

This means being prepared. If I show up for a mock interview unprepared, it doesn’t go as well; and I sense that my client knows this. I might ask canned questions.

Before conducting a mock interview, ask your client to provide two documents, her résumé and a recent job description. From these you’ll write the questions for the interview. You don’t necessary have to stay on script; you might fall into a more conversational mode if the spirit drives you.

The questions must be challenging, without embarrassing your client. It’s also important to come across as friendly in order to put her at ease. On the other hand, if you know your client will encounter stress interviews, make the mock interview stressful. Generally speaking, the mock interview must build confidence, not demean your client.

At times you might experience resistance from your client. Hold your ground. She doesn’t need to agree with everything you say; and you might want to preface this at the beginning of the critique. Keep in mind that she will know more about her occupation, but you know more about the interview process. However, if you are unprepared, your authority goes out the window.


Mock interviews can be the most valuable job-search tool for a candidate. I encourage my clients to participate in them as much as possible. Many express discomfort at the idea of being asked questions, let alone being filmed. When you have the opportunity to conduct a mock interview with a client, don’t hesitate. You’ll be doing your client a great favor.

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3 more reasons why job seekers should blog

Part two of a two-part series.

I wrote, in an earlier blog, three reason why job seekers should blog. They are: it demonstrates their ability to write, it helps brand them, and it’s a great way to network.

blogging3

My idea for writing part one of this series came from my recollection of my two daughters’ penchant for writing; the older one preferred academic essays and the youngest preferred fiction.

Here are three more reasons why you as a job seeker should blog.

1. You’ll feel more productive and learn from writing

Writing about what you know requires processing your knowledge to put it to paper—or in most cases your computer screen. When I write about the job search, it makes me think about what is important to my audience, as well as how to express it.

You will learn more about your industry by blogging, as you’ll have to conduct research in order for your posts to be accurate. One benefit of blogging for me is that I often use what I write as fodder for my career-search workshops. Essentially, I leverage my writing.

It’s believed that one must blog on a consistent basis. You may want to start by blogging once a month, then twice a month, and maybe weekly. Hitting these goals will further give you a sense of productivity. I generally try to blog once a week.

2. More people will witness your expertise

Whether you’re blogging about your industry or job search, you can publish it on your own blog or a third-party blog. LinkedIn is a common third-party platform for blogging. The expertise you share with your audience will be there for as long as the blog sites exist. Personally, I use WordPress, Recruiter.Com, and LinkedIn. I don’t foresee either of them disappearing soon.

There are many platforms on which you can publish your posts. The top three are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Others include Tumblr, Google+, Reddit, and many more. Your audience can then share what you’ve written with their connections, followers, friends, etc. The information you share can go viral, as they say.

Hopefully you’ll continue to blog after you land your next job. I know people who begin writing great content but then suddenly stop. Documenting your expertise is great, but doing it on a regular basis keeps it topical.

3. It educates your readers

Related to number one, you can help other job seekers learn more about your and their industry. I educate my readers on the job search and LinkedIn. I’ve been contacted by people who are in the job search, as well as job-search educators, who tell me that they’ve learned a great deal from me. This is a good feeling.

One of the goals of networking is sharing what you know with other job seekers. Your shared knowledge can be a gift; it might be the reason why job seekers land their next gig.

One reason I gave for blogging in the previous post is branding yourself. If you blog consistently and for a long period of time, you could become known as an authority on your industry, whether it’s High Tech, Social Media, Finance, Medical, etc.


This post, along with the first one I wrote, marks six reasons why job seekers should blog while searching for a job. It’s not only important to keep the momentum going while you’re hunting for work; it’s also important to continue sharing your knowledge while you’re working.

8 stereotypes interviewers have of older workers

I have the privilege of working at an urban career center where the average age of our clients is 53. Given that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects workers 40 years of age or older from discrimination based on their age, you could say our clients are primarily “older workers.”
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For older workers, the job search can come with many additional challenges. Sadly, many interviewers hold misconceptions about older workers, their abilities, and their demands. This is unfortunate, as it leads to many perfectly qualified older workers being passed over simply due to their age.

Here are eight common misconceptions that many older workers face when searching for work:

1. Older workers are overqualified

Sometimes, this may be true – often, however, it isn’t. Furthermore, when interviewers assume an older worker is overqualified, they may be ignoring the worker’s desire for their own career.

Some of my clients tell me they’d be bored if they took a job for which they were overqualified. I tell them not to apply for such jobs.

On the other hand, there are some older workers who simply want to move into lower-stress roles. One of my clients told me he no longer wanted to deal with the day-to-day tension he faced during his 20 years as an executive program manager. Now, he works happily as a business developer for a local plumbing business.

2. Older workers expect higher salaries

Many older workers have reached the pinnacles of their careers and, thus, they tend to earn high salaries. However, many older workers also face different financial situations at this stage in their lives. They no longer have mortgage payments, college tuition is paid off, and their children have flown the coop.

As a result, many older workers have little problem adapting to lower salaries. Perhaps they’ll have to downgrade from a Lexus to a Honda Accord, or forego their third vacation in the Alps. For many older workers, this isn’t a big deal.

3. Older workers won’t work as quickly as younger workers

Sure, older workers might not be able to finish an assignment as quickly as their younger colleagues. They probably won’t spend weeks putting in 12-hour days, nor will they gather around the ping pong table to boast with coworkers about staying later than the “old fogeys.”

But do you know what they will do? They’ll work meticulously to complete a project right the first time. Older workers will work smarter, not harder. They won’t make as many mistakes, because they won’t rush.

4. Older workers are trying to steal the interviewer’s job

A common complaint of my older clients is the lack of knowledge many hiring managers demonstrate. These older workers might have 20 or 30 more years of work experience than their younger hiring managers, so it makes sense that they would know more than the person interviewing them does.

However, my older clients also say they simply want to be hired for the job for which they’re applying. They’re not interested in taking the hiring manager’s position. Some of them simply want to step back and rid themselves of management responsibilities altogether, or they want to mentor younger workers.

5. Older workers aren’t dependable

You’re mistaken if you think older workers will miss work more often due to illness, child care, and any other reason. Older workers have strong work ethics and senses of professional dedication, both ingrained in them throughout the courses of their careers.

My father worked six days a week, and I try to emulate his work ethic. I arrive early, even though I don’t have to, and am willing to stay late if necessary. Enough said.

6. Older workers can’t solve problems

Many older workers have experienced loss. In some cases, they’ve lost loved ones or jobs. They’ve had to adapt to adverse situations in real time. They know how to put out fires.

The ability to adapt to adverse situations makes older workers natural problem solvers. They think calmly under pressure because they’ve seen these problems before. They have learned from their mistakes and are less likely to make mistakes at work.

7. Older workers are lazy

A common misconception younger interviewers hold is that older workers are just biding their time until retirement comes. The fact is that if the work is stimulating, older workers will work for years beyond retirement age.

One of my colleagues is beyond retirement age, yet she says she’ll work as long as she can because she enjoys the responsibilities and the people with whom she works. Trust the older candidate when they say they have no plans to retire soon.

8. Older workers aren’t team players

Older workers have more job experience than younger workers, which tends to mean they also have more developed emotional intelligence (EQ). They understand their own limitations and the limitations of their teammates. They know when to pitch in, when to take direction, and even when to act as a mentor.


Younger interviewers, when you’re interviewing an older worker, don’t judge them before getting to know them. Keep in mind the misconceptions I’ve explained above. Prove to be the better person.

Am I saying you should hire an older worker simply because of their age? Of course not. Just give them a chance, as you would for any other worker of any other age.

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com

6 Areas on your LinkedIn profile you should optimize in 2018

If you’re wondering how an optimized LinkedIn profile will help you in your job search, the answer is simple: Your profile needs to be found by hiring authorities (recruiters, hiring managers, and human resources reps). These people can’t find your profile unless you utilize search engine optimization.

linkedin-alone

Hiring authorities approach LinkedIn similarly to the way they approach their applicant tracking systems (ATSs). They search the site for certain keywords denoting titles and areas of expertise. To be found, you must show up in the first 4-6 pages of search results, lest you be overlooked.

Let’s consider the following scenario: A hiring authority is searching for a finance manager with expertise in data analysis; advising senior managers on how to maximize profits; business analysis; forecasting; supervising employees responsible for financial reporting; and legal compliance. A Masters of Business Administration (MBA) is preferred, although not required.

If a given finance manager wants to be found by the hiring authority in this scenario, their LinkedIn profile must contain their title and area of expertise. Furthermore, this information must be listed in all areas of the finance manager’s profile in order to maximize their chance of being found. This information can be worked into the finance manager’s profile through the use of keywords.

Areas on Your Profile Where Keywords Count

1. Your Name

This area is valuable real estate, as it is weighed heavily in searches. Any certifications or degrees you hold should be included alongside your name, as they will indicate your experience and expertise. So, our finance manager would list their education, “MBA,” after their name.

2. The Headline

This area should be rich with keywords, and it should brand you for your occupation and industry.

Using our financial manager as an example, their headline would read as:

Finance Manager ~ Data Analysis | Business Analysis | Forecasting | Legal Compliance | Maximizing Profits | MBA

Note that you only have 120 characters – including spaces – to work with in your headline. The above example uses 113 characters.

3. The Summary

Your summary should not be brief. Writing a brief summary prevents you from including all the important keywords we’ve identified. In the case of our finance manager, they would want to repeat “finance manager” and the areas of expertise mentioned in the headline above as often as possible.

Note that you have 2,000 characters with which to work in your summary. Something to keep in mind is that visitors only see the first two lines of your summary, unless they select “See more. Read: The 39 most important in your LinkedIn profile summary

4. Experience

The experience section is often overlooked, which is a huge mistake. Each entry in the experience section contains two factors that need to be considered: the job title and the position description.

Our finance manager’s official title is “finance manager” at ABC Company. While this is an accurate title, it doesn’t show their full value. The finance manager should instead list a title similar to their headline. However, you only have 100 characters here, so you have to be more selective. Our finance manager’s title might read:

Finance Manager ~ Data Analysis | Business Analysis | Forecasting | Legal Compliance | MBA

Here, the phrase, “maximizing profits” was removed. “MBA” could be removed instead, but the designation is more important for our finance manager’s purposes.

While the position description must above all else show the candidate’s value by listing accomplishment statements with quantified results, it is also an area on your LinkedIn profile where you can utilize a great deal of space. You have 2,000 characters here to repeat your title and areas of expertise. Don’t squander them.

5. Education / other sections

The education and other sections are also in play. What many people fail to realize is that they can add narratives to their education section. Yes, you’ll list your institution of learning and location (no dates of graduation), but you can also provide some background information.

Our finance manager might tell a story like this: “I fell in love with accounting and other areas of finance on my way to earning my MBA. Of particular interest to me were data and business analysis. I was given the opportunity to learn these skills during an internship at ABC company, which is where I am now employed.” Notice how this narrative employs the right keywords!

You can also benefit from keywords in the featured skills and endorsements sections. Your skills are counted, and some say the number of times you’re endorsed for them increases your ability to be found.

Other considerations when optimizing your LinkedIn profile

Loading your profile with keywords isn’t going to be enough on its own. Being found by hiring authorities also depends on how many people you’re connected with, as well as who your connections are. In addition, engaging with your connections will increase your chances of being found.

Outside your LinkedIn profile

Highlighting your LinkedIn profile on business cards, resumes, links from other social media can further optimize your profile.


Next week, we’ll explore LinkedIn profile optimization further by looking at how to properly connect with other LinkedIn members.

This post originally appeared on recruiter.com.

If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, visit this compilation of LinkedIn posts.

6 reasons keeping you from asking for help during your job search

And what to do about it.

You know the “Golden Rule” of networking: offer help before asking for help. This is good in theory. When you give first, others will return the favor. It may not be the person to whom you gave a slam-dunk lead, but the favor will eventually be returned.

Professional man

Many take this golden rule to heart, almost to the point where they don’t ask for help. It’s as if they don’t believe they deserve being helped with their job search, which to me is a huge shame. Here are some reasons why you might not ask for help and what to do about it.

1. You feel shame

I understand the feeling of the shame and embarrassment of being unemployed, because I’ve been there. Even though I was laid off when the company for which I worked was acquired, I felt like I had let myself and my family down. I know now that the shame I felt was irrational.

What do. What’s rational is realizing that your friends, relatives, neighbors, former colleagues understand that people lose their jobs. It’s part of human nature to, at one point or another, be unemployed. In fact, some of these people were probably unemployed. So, put your shame aside and ask them for help.

2. You don’t think you need help

Many people who haven’t had to look for work for  many years don’t anticipate how difficult the job search can be. Take an executive who’s risen to the top of her career. She’s was in the position of hiring candidates. Now the roles are reversed, and the way employers are hiring have changed.

What to do: Like the executive, you need to understand the job search has changed and be willing to accept help from those who are trained to help you, as well as from other job seekers who have been in the job search more recently. Even executive-level job seekers struggle in the job search.

3. You’re too proud

Some people who are unemployed are too proud to ask for help, because to ask for help is a sign of weakness. From an early age we grew up believing independence is admired and a sign of strength. Helping others is what we should do.

What to do: Now is the time to swallow your pride. If you’ve been helping others throughout your life, or even more recently, accept help from others. Believe it or not, people are willing to help. Social psychologist point out that helping others gives us a sense of pride and happiness, so make other people happy by asking for help.

Being Polite

4. You don’t know who to ask

Knowing who to ask is difficult for some job seekers. They ask me who to approach. My answer to them is “everyone.” As absurd as it may seem, anyone can be of assistance. These are what we call the superficial connections.

What to do: Certainly you will ask your former colleagues and supervisors, as they are you top tier. Beyond that look to your community, including friends, relatives, neighbors, etc. Organized networking groups, buddy groups, and professional associations are also a great source of help.

5. You don’t know how to ask

“Excuse me, do you know of any jobs available?” This is what you wonder, and this is what you want to ask someone who might know this answer. But it is wrong, because it puts people on the spot and makes you appear desperate.

What to do: Simply by letting people know that you’re out of work will put them on notice. They’ll keep you in mind when they hear of openings. Ping people occasionally is what I tell job seekers. Send an email to them to let them know about your search, but don’t always make your pings about your job search.

6. You don’t know when to ask

There are the premature askers–such as a person who asks for help immediately upon sending a LinkedIn invite—and the Johnny come lately askers—the person who summons up the courage after a positions been filled.

What to do: You’re at a professional association event speaking to an insider at a company for which you want to work? Now is  the time to ask for help. Remember reason number 5; don’t ask for a job. Rather, ask if you could connect on LinkedIn or if the person would have time to give you advice on your job search.


Asking for help can be difficult at times; it can even take courage. However, during the job search it’s a necessity. As I tell job seekers, “Going it alone will make your job search longer…much longer.”

Photo: Flickr, Дŋøŋ ДђḾęĐ

One major turnoff for interviewers: lack of transparency from candidates

Three questions that snag job candidates.

A conversation with my daughter in the past aroused in me emotions of both concern and relief. Two conflicting emotions you’re thinking. Yes, two conflicting emotions, but the feeling that stays with me is the feeling of relief.

Honest Abe

The feeling of relief because she was truthful about her faux pas, her display of bad judgement. All was forgiven, although not forgotten. “This is what the truth accomplishes,” I told her.

This is what you get when you ask your kids to be honest. This is what you get when you ask for honesty, regardless of the response.

What interviewers get from their job candidates at an interview aren’t always honest responses. Candidates are guarded, weighing every word they say, because they feel one wrong answer can blow the deal. They don’t have faith in the interviewers being understanding of mistakes made in the past.

Questions addressing candidates weaknesses

When I spring the question, “What is your greatest weakness?” on my workshop attendees, I often get a moment of silence. Their minds are working like crazy to come up with the correct answer. They think the best answer is one which demonstrates a strength, not a weakness.

No job candidate wants to disclose a real weakness. They don’t want to kill their chances of getting the job, so they creatively elude the question, or even lie.

What I impress upon my workshop attendees is that interviewers want transparency, not a coy answer they’ve heard countless times. The “weakness” question is the one that gives them the most trouble.

So they come up with answers like, “I work too hard,” or, worse yet, “I’m a perfectionist.” I tell them these questions rank high on the bullshit scale, to which they laugh. But it’s true. These answers are predictable. They’re throwaway answers, wasted breath.

Be smart, though. Don’t mention a skill as a weakness that is vital to the position at hand. Talking about your fear of  public speaking, when it’s a major component of a position requiring public speaking skills, would be a major problem and probably eliminate you from consideration.

Another question job candidates struggle with is, “Why did you leave your last job?” For those who’ve been let go this can be a struggle. Transparency is required here just like the weakness question.

Unfortunately you may have been let go from your previous position, which means you may have done something wrong; or maybe it was just a conflict in personality with your manager. Whichever the case may be, be transparent, rather than trying to make up a phony story.

For example, “My first manager worked well together because he was clear about his deadlines. However, with my recent manager, I didn’t get a clear sense of when financial reports were due.

This became a problem on a few occasions, which I take responsibility for. Because of this, I’ve learned to ask about strict deadlines.”

Note the person explained the situation succinctly (this answer must be short) and explained how she learned from the experience. This demonstrates transparency and self-awareness.

A final difficult directive might be, “Tell me about a mistake you made and how you dealt with it.” This directive is one that many people are not prepared to answer. When I ask my clients this question, they pause, or might say, “I never thought of this question.”

Like the weakness question, you don’t want to choose the most detrimental mistake you’ve made. The time you cost the organization a $3 million account due to poor follow-through with a huge client is not the example you want to bring up.

However, interviewers want an honest answer. They also want you to tell as story about this mistake. This is where a brief STAR story comes in handy. Read this post to learn how to use the four components necessary to answer this directive.

make mistake

People make mistakes, they do

Smart interviewers understand that just as job candidates make mistakes, managers also make mistakes. No one is flawless in the interview process. Nonetheless, they don’t want to hear candidates dancing around their questions. It’s a waste of time and just makes the job candidate look silly.

Furthermore, interviewers want to hear self-awareness, meaning that you know your weaknesses, and are doing something to correct them. If your greatest weakness is a fear of public speaking (this is not a major requirement of the job), maybe you’ve been attending Toastmasters to get over that fear.

If you can’t admit that you slip every once in awhile, you lack not only self-awareness, but also emotional intelligence, which is a key component of your personality. Not all interviewers want the purple squirrel, the candidate that is perfect and elusive.

Employers want people who can do the job—have most of the required skills—and the motivation to take on challenges. So if candidates don’t have some  non-consequential skills, they need to own up to it. Their understanding of self and limitations is part of their EQ, which is not a given in everyone.


Back to my daughter

It’s tough as a parent to realize your daughter, or son, is not perfect and makes poor judgement calls. Life would be easier if you didn’t have to deal with these minor issues, but they are part of life.

I appreciated her transparency and, as a result, trust her more than if she hadn’t told the truth. In addition, I understand she’ll make mistakes in the future. This is not too different than a conversation that an interviewer and job candidate have. Interviewers will trust candidates more when the candidate is honest….to a point.

I’m sure there was more to the story than my daughter wanted to disclose.

Photo: Flickr, Limmel Robinson

4 reasons why the applicant tracking system is ineffective

My wife has an ongoing argument with Amazon’s Alexa. “Alexa, play WBUR.”

“I don’t understand your question.”

“No, Alexa….Play WBUR….Alexa, play WBUR.”

“Playing a station from Boise Idaho.”

“Argh.”

alexa

As I watch this interaction, it demonstrates how technology and humans don’t always jive. This transaction between my wife reminds me of how the applicant tracking system (ATS)—of which there are hundreds—doesn’t work for the following reasons.

People are only human

No matter how hard I try, some job seekers don’t send résumés tailored to specific jobs. Instead they send generic résumés to every job, exclaiming in aspiration, “Why don’t I get interviews? I’ve sent hundreds of résumés and gotten no interviews; not even a phone interview.”

For years I’ve been preaching to job seekers that keywords are the trick with the ATS. I tell them that they can identify keywords from the job postings by using software as simple as http://www.tagxedo.com or http://www.wordle.net to create word clouds, and then do the same to compare their résumés to job postings. Or they can use a more scientific method using http://www.jobscan.com.

Take the time to dissect the job post to understand the required major requirements and skills. Modify your Branding Headline, Performance Profile, Experience section, essentially everything to fit the job post.

The ATS is not human

The ATS can’t do human; it doesn’t know you as a person who has so much more to offer than the requirements for the job at hand. It is designed to do one thing: parse résumés for keywords. Only if your résumé contains the keywords—and density of them—will it be delivered to the hiring authorities who will read it.

Learn more about the ATS by reading 8 things you need to know about applicant tracking systems.

The ATS is so exact in the keywords for which it searches; there is no room for error. It doesn’t  digest the following words (in bold) in this sentence written by a job seeker: “Demonstrate organizational skills by coordinating events that garnered 98% participation from municipality constituents.

It recognizes the following words (in bold) from a job posting: “Must coordinate events for functions that attract an extremely high percent of participants. Candidates must be extremely organized

Here is where the job candidate fails in matching the three keywords.

  1. coordinating doesn’t equal coordinate.
  2. participation doesn’t equal participants.
  3. Organizational doesn’t equal organized.

The ATS promotes a failing system

The ATS is brilliant because it eliminates as many as 75% of hundreds of résumés submitted for one job. This makes hiring authorities’ lives more manageable and keeps them sane. Most large, and many midsize, companies use applicant tracking systems. One source rates the top 99 applicant tracking systems.

For years we’ve realized that the hiring process is deficient in various ways. When human meets machine, the process fails. You submit your application through an ATS, which does a great job of rating your résumé among others (remember keywords).

However, if your résumé doesn’t meet the ATS’s criteria, you’re out of luck for that job. What the ATS can’t determine is perhaps the most important aspect of a candidate’s potential, emotional intelligence (EQ). The ATS focuses strictly on the skills stated on your résumé; it does not sit across from you in an interview.

The ATS also delivers unqualified people to interviews. This might be attributed to career developers, such as myself, who advise job seekers on how to get by the ATS. (Surely not all people who can play the ATS game are unqualified.) The ones who are unaware of mechanics of the ATS, are being passed by for less qualified people.

The ATS perpetuates job boards

Job boards are chum line. If you’ve ever gone deep-sea fishing, you know what it means to use chum line. Scraps like squid, clams, fish parts, and basically anything that would attract large fish are thrown overboard. The bait attracts any fish who happen to be near the surface.

Hiring authorities reason that they might not get the perfect candidate, but there are job seekers out there who are qualified enough. In other words, what they don’t see, they won’t miss. This thinking is human nature, but it is also faulty.

The ATS allows employers to accept more résumés, convinced the most qualified candidates will be presented to them. Further, the résumés that don’t pass the ATS the first time will be stored for future perusal. Hiring authorities will have a trove a future candidates to look at. This is of no solace to job seekers who need a job now.

The job board’s success rate ranges from 2%-10%. The marriage between it and the ATS is a perfect union.


Friend or foe, the ATS is no better than Alexa. My wife eventually taught the machine to find the radio station she desired, but it took some teaching and frustration. Will the ATS be smarter? Will it be more human? More intuitive? If Alexa is any indication, there might be hope.

Photo: Flickr.com, Victor Gonzalez Couso