Yep, You Should Still Complete a Job Application

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Over half a decade ago, it was predicted that résumés were dead and applying for jobs would be a waste of time. Instead, networking would win you a new job and social media profiles were the new résumés.

Today, résumés are still requested by most companies and the majority of those companies still require that job seekers complete an application, primarily online. Where was the forecasting miss?

Many hiring companies do enable applicants to apply and populate online application fields by applying with a LinkedIn profile. That has made the process easier in some respects, but it also means that applicants have to have a glowing LinkedIn profile that is complete and details work history and accomplishments. The assumption was that every professional would have a LinkedIn profile leading to the death of résumés. As it turns out, five years later, that is not the case.

According to LinkedIn at the time of this writing, a high number of professionals have a LinkedIn profile, but many profiles are still incomplete and lack summaries. That in itself makes it challenging to rely on LinkedIn solely as a résumé replacement.

Additionally, employers need to collect more information than what a LinkedIn profile provides for EEOC compliance and non-discriminatory hiring practices, permissions for background and credit checks, and data for their human capital management systems once an employee is hired. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are necessary to streamline and ensure consistency in recruitment and data capture. Having candidates complete application also means that every applicant is fairly asked the same questions.

So résumés haven’t gone away, nor have applications. In fact, new ATS solutions have continued to emerge on the market. Changes will occur, but those changes will primarily be enhancements to improve the user experience in completing applications and to make solutions more mobile. The ATS, however, is still the mainstay for organizing recruitment data.

The truth is that job seekers can’t abandon application completion as a part of their job search. It is true that more and more job deals are created and sealed through networking, but in reality a job search needs to be a three-pronged approach to make it really effective. That means efforts need to parsed out to searching for opportunities, completing applications and networking.

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To really increase your odds of getting the interview, still apply to a position online, but then devote a significant portion of time to discovering who the hiring manager is for a role plus other contacts who work for the company and can facilitate an introduction or serve as a referral. Then reach out. Get your application noticed so that it doesn’t fall through the cracks in the ATS’s or résumé bot’s automatic sorting and ranking. Sell yourself. Don’t depend on your application alone to get you noticed.

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