Great Resumes Fast » Job Search » Working Around ATS to Land the Job You Want

In today’s job market, the key to getting want you want is to spread your resume around in a variety of ways. One of the methods is filling out online applications through applicant tracking systems, which many of my clients have experienced frustration with. The good news is there exists a multitude of options for navigating around these programs and still getting the position you’re after. While applying for openings online is one job search method, all jobs are not posted online and you can take your search to a higher level with a few extra steps that are easier than you may think.

Online Research

To get started, make sure you are doing your homework. By researching positions and careers that interest you, you can best identify companies to reach out and market yourself appropriately to. This early research will improve the odds of someone reading your cover letter and resume as well as calling you for that coveted interview.

The Social Media Advantage

LinkedIn and other social media are great resources for job seekers. I have a freelancing colleague who was recently contacted on LinkedIn by someone regarding her services. The employer reached out and they were able to connect to the benefit of them both. Having a strong, solidly written profile on social media such as LinkedIn makes it easy for potential employers to find you. Keep your posts fresh, professional credentials updated, and tell your career story—it’s better at grabbing attention than just replicating your resume. In addition, social media allow you to identify, locate, and connect with decision makers in companies and organizations around the world. Hiring managers often have professional profiles of their own online, so you can contact them directly with a copy of your resume.

Career Sites

There’s a wide variety of free career sites that will allow you to upload your resume and input your job search criteria. Using the information you provide, such as the type of work you are interested in and any specific zip codes you wish to search, these sites will notify you when there are jobs available that meet your needs. They sometimes give you a direct link to employers as well, so you can avoid ATS or get a simpler, quicker version to fill out.  Some of the top career sites online you can sign up for include: 








Direct Mailing Campaigns

When you are looking for a new position, consider yourself a product—and produce a direct mailing campaign for hiring managers. While HR departments are paid to filter resumes and fill existing positions, hiring managers are often aware of things HR people aren’t, such as a vacancy that just became available that morning. Take advantage of that insider knowledge by making yourself known to them directly. Identify companies that may need someone with your particular skills and experience, then find the names of the people in hiring positions and their contact information. According to the website, only “five percent of executives go after the hidden jobs by sending letters to thousands of decision makers at the same time. Competition is minimal, 85% land a job in less than 90 days, and 50% get multiple job offers when they do it right.”

Locating Hiring Managers

You can search for people online at company websites or you may use Google™ to search for names and contact information. For example, if you want a banking position, you may try a search for CFO at Wells Fargo™. You can also search social media such as LinkedIn, which has a terrific company search function. Once you have located the hiring manager and his or her contact information, send them a strong resume targeted directly at their company’s needs—via email or snail mail, depending on the contact information you found. You can even search the company website for keywords to include in your resume to grab their attention and strengthen your chances of getting a call-back. Even simply picking up the telephone and making an inquiry call shows a potential employer that you are serious about your interest in their organization; and you can easily ask for a direct email or mailing address to which you may send your resume. 

Work Your Network

We often forget what a terrific resource other people can be. Everyone knows someone—including past and current colleagues, friends, and family. Work your network to get your foot in the door or find out about jobs before they go public. When you utilize this method, your odds are 1 in 7 for landing an interview compared to online applications where your probability is greatly reduced to 250 to 1 that you will even get a call-back. Let trustworthy people you know (and who can keep your search confidential if you don’t want your existing employer to know you are looking) that you are job searching, and ask them to connect you with their hiring manager. If they aren’t comfortable with that, ask if they would provide a referral for you and pass your resume along to their boss. This can often lead to an interview directly with a hiring manager while avoiding ATS and other initial screening procedures. 

Getting Your Foot in the Door—Temporarily

A temporary or part-time position can often lead to a permanent position. I had a client whose husband was relocated to Las Vegas. As a result, she had to job search for herself. She found it difficult to find anything and ended up taking a temporary position with Caesars Palace® that led to a full-time job within a couple of months. If you need work right away, temp agencies are a great place to start.

Other Backdoor Methods

In addition to the aforementioned methods of working around ATS, you can also try out some other tried-and-true methods including networking events and careers fairs. Check your local help wanted ads in the newspaper in print or online in the town or city in which you are seeking employment. There are often industry sites and newsgroups you can join online that provide insider information for your field and keep you abreast of the latest job postings. Many companies have a blog page on their websites written by hiring managers that you can share or comment on to get your name noticed. The same goes for retweeting company tweets on Twitter™ or reposting something on Facebook. Done properly, this can help a hiring manager to discover your profile online and give you a leg up.

By utilizing these simple methods, you can expand your job search and improve your chances of success. Sometimes the easiest way to get what you want is to directly contact the person who can get you there and show them what you can do for their business. Do your research, spruce up your resume, and start making the calls that can change your life.

I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn feel free to send me an invite here.

You can also find me online at Great Resumes Fast where I help my clients shorten their job searches, increase their salaries and find careers that bring them joy.

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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!

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