How to beat recruiting software in 2022 (+tips)

In a world where it’s easier than ever to get unfairly rejected as a job candidate, we understand why you’re on the hunt for what it takes to beat recruiting software – you don’t want to be overlooked.

We see you, job seeker. Even though potential economic doom and gloom are looming just beyond the horizon, you’re still capitalizing on the fact that this is one of the best times in history for you to make a career move. 

In the wake of the pandemic, The Great Resignation has created an exciting “buyer’s market” for millions of professionals like you who are reevaluating the role work plays in their lives, and what the “right fit” position looks like. Of course, as you’ve likely discovered, this job market bursting with opportunity is not without its challenges. 

For instance, depending on the types of roles you’re applying for, you may be struggling to stand out from the record-breaking crowd as an applicant. 

On top of that, recent reporting confirms what you may fear – automated recruiting software solutions are potentially hurting your chances of landing a job by accidentally rejecting millions of suitable candidates. Given that 75% of U.S. employers (and 99% of Fortune 500 companies) use automated recruiting software, that last point is a problem, no matter what state the economy is in. 

In a world where it’s easier than ever to get unfairly rejected as a job candidate, we understand why you’re on the hunt for what it takes to beat recruiting software – you don’t want to be overlooked. While there are some tactical tips we will share with you in this article, keep in mind as you read that there are no guarantees or strategies to “game the recruiting software system” to (fingers crossed!) land your dream job. 

How to craft an application that recruiting software solutions will love

As an applicant, it’s important to understand the many different types of recruiting technology solutions on the market – e.g., candidate relationship management platforms, interviewing software, and assessment tools. 

👉 Related: From (aspiring) designer to copywriter, I learned to own my career path and set health boundaries

For our purposes, let’s focus on automated applicant tracking systems (ATS), which many companies rely upon for their application processes. These platforms enable companies and recruiters to quickly screen candidates (particularly in the early stages) for suitability for a role. Based on a set of predetermined criteria, an ATS will either accept or reject applicants automatically. 

Assuming you’re being purposeful in your job search (more on that later), here are a few pointers that can help minimize the likelihood of accidentally being rejected when you’re genuinely well-suited for the role:

  • Leave no gaps in your resume, as some companies will automatically reject candidates with unexplained gaps of six months or more. Even if you took time off from a formal role, address the time in your resume and note any work (casual or otherwise) you may have completed during that time.

  • Tailor your application to organically include keywords and any “desired” experience phrases from the job description, when doing so authentically represents your qualifications. However, remember, humans will ultimately review these applications. Tie the keywords or phrases you choose to weave through to relevant experience and context.

  • Use plain language and define all acronyms so it’s easier for systems to fully understand the contents of your application.

  • Be choosy about how many jobs you apply to at a single company. Ideally, you’re only applying to one role, but there may be cases in which you see potential in multiple roles. While you may see potential, an automated system may see many applications from a single individual as “spammy” or an indication you’re not truly qualified for anything.

  • Keep the design and formatting of your resume simple. The internet is overflowing with fancy, graphical resume templates; and if you’re in the design space, visual resumes can help you stand out. Complex layouts can also be problematic. To guarantee an ATS can read your entire resume, use a basic font, and limit the use of charts and graphs. Any essential data or statistics should be written out in text.

  • Did someone at the company refer you? Great! In many cases, a company will have a field where you can select how you heard about the role, particularly if you are applying directly on their website. If you’ve come by your referral honestly and by a current employee (no fibbing!), and there is an option to add it to your application, don’t overlook it. In some cases, internal referrals may put you straight through to the hiring manager. 

Again, keep in mind that no two recruiting software solutions are alike. In many cases, you won’t know what (if any) technology exists between you and the company you’re applying to. Also, these pointers do not come with any guarantee, as your qualifications for a given role and the unique parameters a company sets will ultimately determine if you move forward in the hiring process.

More importantly, while these tactics can help you when you’re ready to apply, they will only get you so far if you aren’t thoughtful about which jobs you’re applying for and why.

These tips don’t replace a purposeful approach to your job search

Even if you make it through initial automated applicant screening rounds with flying colors, you still need to think critically about what roles you’re considering. 

You should only apply to those that truly align with your experience and the work that genuinely interests you, but that’s easier said than done depending on where you are in your career. If you’re struggling in this area, WhoCo Chief Talent Officer Sabrina Kelly encourages professionals who are thinking about a career switch to ask themselves:

“How and where do I find myself engaged in my work?”

This question is a powerful starting point for self-reflection, and there are others you can explore to unearth the career opportunities you may want to pursue. Before joining WhoCo, Senior Operations Manager Chris Murray challenged himself by considering the following:

  • “What are my superpowers?”
  • “What problems do I love solving?”
  • “What do I find fulfilling in my work, and where do I feel my fulfillment waning?”
  • “What types of company culture do I like?”
  • “What balance do I need between life and work?”
  • “How much money do I want to be making?”

Simply put, there are no shortcuts or recruiting software “hacks” that can ever replace you doing the internal work required to make purposeful choices in the hunt for your next position – but you should see that as a great thing.

👉 Related: How to ace a job interview

The last thing you want is to land on the wrong side of The Great Resignation – The Great Regret, which refers to those who made the leap to a new role and now have “buyer’s remorse.” When you rush through the process of determining your fit for certain positions, you open yourself up to this risk.

If you’re looking for a new opportunity, know we are sincerely excited for you. You’re about to write the next chapter in your success story. And like you, we also believe you should be happy and fulfilled in your work. Be thoughtful in your approach. You deserve it.