Your career progressed steadily for years or even decades, and now you find yourself hunting for a job after being laid off. That’s all too common these days. With the unemployment rate still hovering at around 10%, talented professionals are experiencing a painful amount of rejection as they apply for job after job after job.
Often a candidate gets a computer-generated rejection 10 or 20 days after applying online. It says, “Thank you for your interest in XYX Company. We have reviewed your qualifications and at this time have decided to pursue other candidates.” You can usually tell that it’s computer-generated from the e-mail address it was sent from and the farewell at the end of it. It typically comes from an impersonal corporate address like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, and it is signed with a similarly corporate title rather than a person’s name.
Recently a client of my firm, Attract Jobs Now, received such an e-mail after applying for a position she was more than qualified to fill. She said to me, “I’m perfect for this job. Is that it?” As we’ve told many clients, that’s not it. You should think of a form rejection letter as not the end but the beginning. Many companies use talent management software to filter candidates based on keywords they find in their résumés. Receiving such an e-mail only means you have been screened by that software.
Don’t be discouraged. The message is a valuable opportunity. Receiving it means you didn’t have the right words for the job on your résumé, and it may indicate that the official screening and hiring process for the job has just begun. Whoever applied and wasn’t filtered out is being interviewed now. If you want the job, you need to act fast. Here’s what to do:
1. Re-evaluate the job description. Review the job description and look for keywords, meaning any words that are most likely to be used to identify qualified candidates for the job. Typical keywords include the job title and words and phrases that are used repeatedly in the job description.
2. Revise your résumé. Once you’ve identified keywords in the job description, place them in the keywords section of your résumé. That should get the employer to add you to the candidate pool when they view your résumé.
3. Find an inside contact. One of the most effective ways to get to the top of the résumé pile is by finding an employee at the company to recommend you, or at least to forward your résumé to the hiring manager or human resources manager responsible for the job posting. Ask your contact to search on the company’s intranet for the job and identify the hiring manager and H.R. manager. If you can’t come up with a contact at the company, utilize Attract Jobs NOW‘s business contact service to find the employees who are managing the job posting and contact them directly.
In this job market, you need to be more aggressive than ever, and you mustn’t be deterred by an initial computer-generated rejection. You haven’t been truly rejected until an employee of the company tells you you’re not qualified for the job. The computer-generated e-mail is just an opportunity to work a little harder to get the job you deserve.
Jerome Young is the founder and president of www.AttractJobsNOW.com, a job search and recruiting consulting firm.