Don't Waste Your Time with Online Job Applications -- Here's Why!

The recruiting process is profoundly broken. Every aspect of the traditional recruiting system is badly designed and badly executed.
If we applied the most basic usability or quality standards we value in other business processes to the simple act of hiring a new employee, we'd be horrified to see how foolish and destructive our recruiting processes have become.
To begin the hiring process, we write delusional job ads that drive talented people away and make the average, capable job-seeking person decide that it's not worth applying for the job because they'll never have a chance of getting it.
Next, we force job-seekers to fill out endless forms on our bureaucratic, inhuman Applicant Tracking Systems. Can you imagine forcing customers to fill out form after form in order to buy from your company? You'd never dream of doing that!
Your company would go out of business in six weeks if you treated customers the shameful way you treat job-seekers.
Why are employers willing to treat job-seekers like dogmeat, and why do job-seekers tolerate the abuse? It's because we've all grown up with the idea that employers are mighty and job-seekers are a dime a dozen.
We kiss our customer's rear ends because they buy from us, but who powers our organizations? Who makes our customers want to buy from us in the first place?
Who designs the amazing products and services we sell? Who takes care of our customers and processes their payments and keeps them happy? Our employees do!
We have the value chain upside down. We treat customers like gold and we treat our employees -- the people who keep our customers loyal to us -- like dirt.
The bad treatment starts when someone applies for a job.  Anyone can tell how much your company values talent. All they have to do is look at the Careers section of your website and they'll know everything they need to know.
As a job-seeker, you're wasting your time and energy applying for jobs online. Most applications sent through automated recruiting sites don't get a glance.
Even if your application or resume contains all the keywords found in the job ad, that won't help you.
Tons of people know how to cut and paste keywords out of a job ad into a resume. After the keyword-searching algorithm narrows the huge stack of applications down to a smaller stack of them, there are still way too many applications for a human being to look at -- so they don't.
Wasting your time is bad, but depleting your precious mojo is even worse! Automated recruiting sites make brilliant and talented job-seekers feel like garbage.
When you deal only with machines and wait weeks for a friendly word that never comes, your confidence falls through the floor. Who could be surprised?
At Human Workplace we teach job-seekers to ignore automated application sites altogether and get awesome new jobs in a different way.
If you're applying for a retail job at Target or another huge chain, you have to apply online, but if you're applying for any kind of white-collar office job or a sales, warehouse or manufacturing job, you can skip the online application and reach your hiring manager directly.
Our clients and millions of other people who read my columns get their jobs this way.  We are always excited to hear their success stories, and not just because they needed a job and they found one. We rejoice with them because they're growing muscles!
Throughout our lives we've been taught to follow rules, but when it comes to job-hunting, following the rules will keep you frustrated.
To get a good job these days you have to break the rules. You have to take your job search into your own hands!
Luckily, it isn't hard to do. Here are the steps in the Whole Person Job Search approach we invented and teach at Human Workplace.
1) Decide what kinds of jobs you want to focus on. The brand "I can do anything!" is the worst possible choice, because no one believes it -- and because managers of different departments have different kinds of Business Pain to solve.
2) Brand yourself for the jobs you want. Put a human voice in your resume (here's how!) to bring across your power and your accomplishments, not to mention your personality. Do the same in your LinkedIn profile.
3) Ask yourself "Who is my hiring manager?" His or her title, of course, is not 'hiring manager' -- that's just his or her relationship with you. Your hiring manager is the head of a department, like Finance or Inventory Control.
4) Find your hiring manager inside each of your target employers. Let's say you've got your eye on Acme Explosives, a growing manufacturer in your town. Here's how to use LinkedIn to find your hiring manager at Acme.
5) Write a Pain Letter addressed specifically to your manager at Acme Explosives -- not to the HR department. Ignore Acme's automated recruiting site. You'll send your Pain Letter through the mail, directly to your hiring manager's desk.
6) Staple your Pain Letter to your one- or two-page Human-Voiced Resume and slip the stapled pages into an 8.5 x 11-inch white envelope on which you've written your manager's name, title, company name and street address in block print (in the center of the front of the envelope) and your own name and street address in the upper left-hand corner of the front of the envelope.
7) Take your filled and sealed envelope (now elevated to a new status: Pain Packet!) to the post office and them stamp and send it or buy some stamps and send it yourself through a mailbox.
8) Log your sent Pain Packet in a simple spreadsheet you've created to track your job-search activity.
9) Celebrate your job search progress with a nice gelato!
The recruiting system is broken, but if you need a job now, you can't wait for employers to fix it -- you have to act! You already know that filling out online job applications will get you nowhere.
You'll get your hiring manager's attention a different way - by speaking to him or her directly in a letter that comes through the mail and lands on your manager's desk.
Your Pain  Letter speaks to your hiring manager directly, from one person to another. It doesn't use any business jargon like "Results-oriented professional" or "Multi-skilled Business Leader." It doesn't say "I was intrigued to see your recent job ad..." or use any of the traditional, kiss-ass job-seeker language.
Your hiring manager is a real person with problems that are keeping him or her up at night. Your Pain Letter addresses those problems straight on. That's why it's called a Pain Letter!
You can find your hiring manager on LinkedIn or the employer's website. You can read his or her LinkedIn profile and look at the profile picture.
You'll start to get a feeling for the person behind the profile and the stress he or she is feeling -- the stress you can help to relieve!
Your Pain-Spotting efforts will pay off. Every Pain Letter you write will make you a stronger writer and a better consultant. Here's what Arthur said about sending his first two Pain Letters:
"You say learning is good even when it's painful, Liz, and now I know it's true. My friend Bruno sent me one of your columns at least 18 months ago but I thought your Pain Letter advice was too far 'out there' and I didn't try it.
"I must have applied for forty jobs through online application sites since then. All that effort got me two callbacks and one interview for an entry-level job that I could have performed 15 years ago. The job paid fourteen dollars an hour.
"I've been living on unemployment and my savings and getting more and more desperate for the past two years.
"Finally two weeks ago I figured 'What's the worst thing that can happen if I try Liz Ryan's advice?' and I sent out two Pain Letters. I got a callback from the Office Manager in one of the companies I wrote to.
She said that the manager who got my Pain Letter isn't hiring but another manager had a job opening. I interviewed two days later and I got the job. I just accepted the offer to be a Senior Buyer for that company, a $68,000 job. I start next Monday and I'm excited about it, but now I have a new attitude. I'm never going completely off the job market again!
"I completely forgot about my second Pain Letter. The manager I sent it to left me a voicemail message last night. Now that my eyes are opened about managing my career, I figured 'Why waste a potential contact?'
"I wrote back to tell the manager that I just accepted a job offer but that I know a lot of people and I'd be happy to have coffee with him and send him some referrals for his job opening. Why the heck not? I know people. Maybe I can get one of my friends a job!
"Thanks for everything you do, Liz -- you turned my head around (even though it took a while) and gave me the kick in the pants I needed." -- Arthur

Our company is called Human Workplace. Thanks for FOLLOWING us on LinkedIn and on Twitter: @humanworkplace
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