Getting past the gatekeeper: How to get a foot in the door
Recently I’ve been looking through online job advertisements and have come across more than a few that read like full-length essays.
Have you seen these; job advertisements that ask for everything under the sun?
They want you to have 5 years of experience in a specific industry, speak 5 languages, have multiple degrees, work as part of a team, work independently, know some obscure computer programs, the list goes on and on.
Some I read and wonder, ‘how is it even possible to meet these criteria?’ For others I think, ‘I’m a shoo-in’! But, regardless of whether I meet the requirements, or not, my only contact with the company is electronic.
Herein lies the issue. If your only contact with the company is through an online application, how do you convince HR you meet the essay-length qualifications?
How do you impress the gatekeeper?
One short and simple answer is you don’t. Instead, you go around.
This is not to say you surreptitiously slip the actual hiring manager your resume, although that might be a good idea. It goes back to the same old answer. Networking is an important part of the job search.
Of course it is entirely possible that your online application will get through HR and you’ll be hired. I’ve known this to happen on multiple occasions. Still, making contact with an insider always helps.
If someone has put in a good word for an applicant:
1. The candidate will generally get an interview.
2. The good word always changes the interview. Instead of rigorously screening the applicant and making sure they match the essay of requirements the interview becomes more of a conversation to see if they’re a good fit.
That doesn’t bode well for those of us who are applying without an inside connection. However it may give just enough incentive to put more effort into a networking plan.
Apart from beefing up a networking strategy, I have heard some good advice on how to have your resume get a pass from HR when applying online.
1. Highlight the qualifications you do have, and your willingness and ability to learn quickly.
2. If there’s a job that interests you but for which you may be overqualified (e.g. moving from a big company to a small company) emphasize that you’re a team player, and you’d enjoy the opportunity to mentor.
3. Read between the lines. If the advertisement asks for 5 years of experience expect the salary to be that of someone that has worked in that position/industry for at least 5 years. Don’t expect to receive more.
So, to ensure you get past the gatekeeper, you may want to think about integrating a more rigorous networking plan. Also, read between the lines of the posting and highlight your most valuable skill set that’s pertinent to the job, as well as your willingness to learn. Find out what sets you apart as a candidate and highlight that.
Landing an interview means creating a resume interesting enough to intrigue people into wanting to meet you in person. Show them who you really are.