Dear online apply: you’ve made my job search process suck…

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Show of hands for those who had a great experience with online apply in their last job search!   Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller???

I’m dating myself now, but in the olden days a person just mailed in their resume and waited, then called, and with any luck got an interview. Pretty simple right?

Along came the internet and all the cool tools meant to aid the process of applying for a job actually turned a simple process into a highly complex, frustrating, and convoluted one.  Corporate America got super excited about inserting a technology solution into a human recruiting process and forgot the one thing that should have been the primary focus: the human!

An unanticipated casuality in this tech revolution is your friendly corporate recruiter.  While automation has increased, recruiting budgets have shifted to technology – leaving the recruiter with impossible workloads under the guise of perceived efficiency that, in practice, comes up short.

Like it or no, online apply is a reality and here to stay for the foreseeable future.   That said – here’s a few ideas to game the system and stand out in a sea of applicants.

DISCLAIMER:  You will undoubtedly find recruiters who will disagree and agree with my advice.  I’m using my objective experience on both sides of the house to help Joe Smith understand the process and  reality of job search today.  The goal is to help a few more people successfully land their next gig!   

Here’s the issue:  

Corporate recruiters really want to give you a fair shake, but they are juggling 20-40 jobs at any one time – each with (conservatively) 50-75 applicants just like you.  Thats 1000-3000 applicants they’re trying to screen, evaluate, and service… Bottom line – recruiters aren’t always set up for success and can’t give the customer service they would otherwise like to.

Corporate America has made it incredibly hard for a person to just raise their their hand and say “Hey!  I’d like to work for you!” without jumping through hoops such as:

Step one – Upload your resume.

Step two – Yaaaa…. all the info on that resume you just uploaded?? Were gonna need you to manually enter that all over again in the next 3 pages.   Sorry.

As a result – some companies track a candidate fallout rate as high as 50% from their crappy online apply.  Thats some pretty good talent who said “I’m interested” then walked away after getting frustrated.

So what’s a person to do?

Here’s a few recommendations:

Recruiters all love your cover letters – but they just don’t have time to read them (see issue #1 above).  Awesome story.  Love your passion and purpose.  Recruiters simply do not have time. Soo…..  86 the cover letter. Instead – invest your time in a clear, sharp resume.

You’ve literally got 20-30 seconds to get their attention.   20-30 seconds – for a process that may have taken you 10-30 minutes to complete.  Sorry!  Totally not fair, but it’s just a fact of life.   Be targeted with your resume.  All those words in the job description need to be in your resume too. This is so the robot recruiters that screen and rank resumes for the human recruiters know that you’re a good match and you get ranked higher than the other candidates. Please be honest though… If you don’t have a skill, don’t say you do.   Long story short:  you should be tailoring your resume specifically for every single job you apply for. Recruiters will love you for making their life easier and your resume will have a better shot of seeing the light of day!

Make a connection (but be professional):  You’ve applied – cool!    But time to be proactive.  Who do you know in the company that could be an avocate for you?   Know someone who knows the recruiter?  The hiring manager?  Reach out to them but be professional.   Do it when you truly believe you’re a great candidate.  People – including recruiters and hiring managers don’t like surprises and value honesty from potential employees.  It’s a fine line that’s often the difference between getting an extra look and being deleted forever.   Aka: pestering a recruiter or hiring manager can get you blackballed.

Have a short memory:  job search is hard and without an inside  connection – it can be down right frustrating.   Understand that if you’re applying cold to companies, the ballpark average is 45 job applies will yield one job offer.  Stay positive and stay on top of the details – follow up, say thank you, and stay focused.   Your next job is out there – you just have to weed through the process  and get noticed!

Job search can be a tricky thing, but hopefully these few suggestions make your next job search more successful!

Happy (and stress free) hunting!!


A Thanksgiving challenge: Just get greedy. You’ll totally thank me later.

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As a kid I grew up in Plymouth, MN but our family ended up going to a Church in a neighboring town of Golden Valley.   Church was never at the top of my list of things to do on a weekend. There was school, homework, and activities that crowded the week, and finally a weekend rolled around and it was off to Church.   Damn….   It was tolerable and everyone was nice but it was the Weekend!!! I’m sure I had some more important weekend type stuff that was waiting for me! Shortly thereafter, my parents found out about church Youth Group and decided it would be good for me.   Another Church activity? Come on…    It was a group of adult lead, Jr. and Sr. Highschoolers that got together for events, volunteering, and just fun times.  Turns out it was one of the best things that could have happened to me and  I still have some pretty close friends from that era.

The culmination of Youth Group was always our summer service project creatively titled “Work Camp.”   It’s where a bunch of kids get on a well worn bus and road trip to some poor or depressed area to help people fix up their houses. On the surface – not an ideal Summer vacation. Invariably it was hot, humid, buggy, and our rent-a-bus always seemed eager for at least one in-trip break down.  It was an experience that turned out to have a pretty large influence on the type of person I am today.

In addition to Work Camp there were also a million other volunteer events that ate up our year. Some were fun. Some were not.   But the one constant for me was always how I felt pre-event.   It was balancing “I just don’t wanna go” with the inevidable “hey where were you” type questions at Church the following week if I didn’t show. All in all it was good for me; you know, character building type stuff.

Some time later,  I started to became aware of how I felt after volunteering.   It was odd – I felt good. Really good.   Sure I was tired and I just gave up a quarter of my weekend – but I was energized and just generally happy.   I liked it.   And so I became greedy about giving. I liked it and I wanted to do more.  I was doing something good for someone I didn’t know, or would likely never meet – but…   It felt really good!

Time went on and I went off to school, came back , got married, had a kid, got divorced, started my business and life just got busy.   Think it happens to a lot of people.   It took me a long time to realize it but – I did finally notice that I was missing the feeling I got from volunteering and I needed to get that back.  Its a good type of greed/addiction.   In my 42 years on the planet I’ve never heard someone say “Yaaaa… Jeff – your volunteering is really getting out of control and we’re concerned about you.   Time to back off a little.”

Nope!  Time to get greedy again!


Sooo…   The Challenge:

A funny thing happens when you put pen to paper and then share it.   The level of accountability goes way up – and for me that has always been a positive thing.

So I’ve got two goals I’d like your help with. Hold me accountable; ask me how its going, and even better join me!

  1. Give time: It’s easy – but it’s also easy to just put it off and “do it next time.”   My daughter Maeve and I will be volunteering every month on a Saturday.   Its such a small thing, but over time it can have a big impact. I’ll be blogging and posting pictures on the when and where of each place, event, etc.   Would be great for those of you who are local to join us!   For those of you who live in other states – join along in spirit or better yet, volunteer in your community! Please let me know if you would like to join.
  1. Give money: For me giving of time is always more rewarding than money.   However – the money part is essential and I’m continually amazed by how far charities can stretch a dollar. Many of you know that I started my own Headhunting firm a few years ago; Insitu Search. It’s a simple business: Clients pay me search fees for finding and hiring top level talent they have difficulty recruiting themselves. I have goals for myself and for my business. One goal for my business in 2016 is to be able to donate one of my Search fees, on behalf of my clients, to a charity. This would be professionally rewarding for me and something I’d like to do every year going forward. 2016 sounds like a great time to start!


There it is. So simple, but so easy to forget to do.


Travel safe this holiday week and enjoy time with friends and family. And in this time of Thanks and Giving – don’t forget to be greedy and allow yourself an abundance of happiness – you’ll thank me later!