June 8, 2011
Where you come from matters
Let's talk about where you come from. I don't mean your hometown, your country of origin or your last job; I'm talking about the source of your résumé in a company's applicant tracking system (ATS). It could mean the difference between a phone call from human resources and a "thanks, but no thanks" letter.
ATSs can store the original source of a résumé; that tells companies whether the résumé came from a specific job board, an employee or partner referral, a cold call, a networking event, etc. Based on past experience, an employer might have gotten its best hires from newspaper classifieds, online postings or employee referrals. It's in a company's best interest, and a usual practice, to try to find similar talent from those same sources.
One client of mine -- a vice president of HR -- applied to a legal firm and was scheduled for an interview. Two days before the interview, he got a call from the company and was told they had decided to go in a different direction. I made some phone calls to people familiar with the matter and found out they decided to hire only applicants from a local HR association. As my client had applied through Craigslist, they canceled his interview.
Someone who works at the University of Washington told me that her department prefers to hire applicants through The Seattle Times. She said the newspaper's demographic has provided the best hires, so she keeps recruiting through that method.
A large advertising agency in Woodinville says it doesn't consider anyone who applies through the company's website or Monster. Someone at the agency told me that its worst applicants tend to come from those sources, so it looks only at partner and employee referrals.
A medium-size medical company in Bellevue recruits only those who participate in certain medical groups on LinkedIn. Several local tech companies like to hire people who attend their tech talks. Some employers prefer interviewing and hiring applicants they meet at career mixers.
What does this mean for you? Before sending in your résumé, try to find out which source you should use. Because it matters, simply changing your method to one the employer prefers can greatly increase your odds of getting noticed and scheduled for an interview. The last thing you want is to be categorized with the misfits and bad hires simply because you failed to do some research beforehand.
In my next post, I'll tell you where to get this information. I'll also give you several other research techniques to use before submitting your application.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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