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The Black Hole: Insights into finding your way OUT of an Applicant Tracking System

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We’ve all done it. Gone to the ‘careers’ web site of any given employer. Filled out a profile and attached our resume. Took some time to indicate areas of interest, listed our most desirable locations. Then we hit the submit button. Some of us may have even gone one step further and researched the current openings. Perhaps even applied for a few positions. Now what though? Where did the resume go? Is anyone ever going to see it? What about all those jobs I applied to that I was a “perfect match” for? Did I just waste my time submitting information into the ‘black hole’ of an Applicant Tracking System only to get lost in the shuffle?

I’m here to tell you that you have a fighting chance.

In the past, I have worked for other companies. Now, I won’t call any out by name, but there was one that I can honestly say each and every time I got a new position, I had to completely start the recruiting process over. Even if it was for a similar position that I had recently filled. I had to go out and run the exact same searches I had run for the past opening, because the system didn’t allow me to easily pull back the candidates I had recently recruited or submitted. Example: In some cases, I had added multiple, extremely talented Digital Design Engineers into the database over the past few months. It was nearly impossible to pull them back out in a search though. I was forced to go back out to the Web, job boards, LinkedIn, etc. and RE-FIND these candidates or just find new ones all together. It was a miracle if I ran a search inside the system and the right people actually came back in that search. Never fear though! Technology has come a long way since then.

At Intel, the system we use is actually pretty robust. Now, not every recruiter you talk to will tell you the same story. I have worked in many environments though, with many different tools, and the one we use today, while not perfect (I’ve yet to find a PERFECT one), does a pretty great job of bringing back the right kind of candidates in my search. It’s similar to a Google* search you may run. You put in The results aren’t ALWAYS what you were hoping for, but there are still several links to the exact purse I want to buy! It’s the same thing with a candidate search. I’ve talked before about making sure your profile is ‘buzz word rich’. That is still the most valuable piece of advice I can give. If I’m looking for a Logic Designer with RTL experience and maybe some USB design exposure (which right now, I actually am ), it’s not going to help you if your resume doesn’t include the right key words. Keep recruiters in mind as your write or edit your resume.

Another piece of advice I can give you while navigating the ‘black hole’, would be to actively search the job postings on a regular basis. We have numerous recruiters here supporting a large number of hiring managers. One job may get approved and posted at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday and 17 more might get approved the following afternoon. If you aren’t watching, you might miss something. Most systems now offer you the chance to be notified when jobs match your profile. Some people opt out of this, but it might be a mistake doing that. I always tell people that if you get 10 messages in your inbox that are not relevant to you, well guess what, JUST DELETE THEM. It is as simple as that. I do it all the time.

One more insight I would like to provide is a newer process we’ve worked out here at Intel. Historically, every candidate that applied (sometimes up to 1000+) just sat in a folder associated with a requisition. Recruiters had to wade through the pile and hope that they found a good short list of qualified candidates to present to the hiring team. Now, we’ve got a better way of finding the people in that mix that are most qualified for an opening. Each position you apply for will have prescreening questions associated with it. We create them specifically with the requisition requirements in mind. So your best bet for being seen is to always complete those screening questions. If you are a solid match to the minimum requirements, you have an excellent chance of being presented to the hiring team! It might take you an extra 30 seconds to fill out the questions when applying, but I assure you it is in your best interest to do so.

I know in this job market, it can be very frustrating when you take the time to complete a profile across multiple employers and don’t get much of a response. Keep trying. Don’t lose hope. A lot of candidates find their way out of the system and into a nice comfy cubicle inside the walls of Intel. That next candidate could be you!