Resumes: Electronic Screening Expands to Smaller Firms

Large companies use applicant tracking systems to scan keywords and evaluate candidates from their recruiting databases. No news there.

But, if you think you can get away with submitting generic resumes to smaller companies–meaning those with less than 20 employees–beware. More  small- to mid-size firms are using parsing technology to creen resumes thanks to software as a service.

Rookies are playing in the big leagues according to Josh Bersin, CEO of analyst firm Bersin & Associates. This is partly because the systems are easy to set-up, scalable and inexpensive. The monthly user fees are typically less than $100, and some are even free. The systems reduce paper and help companies comply with federal and state employment laws. And theoretically, they improve communications and speed the hiring process.

Bersin says that dozens and dozens of providers offer low-cost solutions to companies with fewer than 1,000 employees. During a recent interview, Susan Vitale, CSO for iCIMS, noted that about 60 percent of the company’s small business customers have never used a recruiting solution before.

Web-based ATS may benefit applicants because they allow anyone in the company to create job postings, broadcast openings, view, screen and organize applicants, schedule interviews, provide feedback and make job offers. Plus, you can apply online and actually receive an e-mail acknowledgement. A few programs let you login and check the status of your application from your mobile. Whereas before, your resume could easily get stuck in a general e-mail box that no one bothers to check.

And though direct access to social media is not available in most Web-based systems, you stand a better chance of hearing from small company recruiters and IT managers because they can search for profiles on professional networking sites and job boards, create a file and communicate opportunities by using the system for client relationship management (CRM).

“A few companies like Bullhorn offer an ATS and social recruiting functionality,” notes Kyle Lagunas, an HR Analyst at SoftwareAdvice.com. “Users can broadcast jobs over social networks and receive notifications when someone updates their profile on a professional networking site.”

But the fact remains that you can’t submit your resume and wait to be contacted because an ATS uses a scoring algorithm to evaluate candidates, and online recruiting increases the number of applicants for every open position. Plus, you may encounter gatekeepers in small companies where none existed before.

Candidates need to work around resume screening programs by looking for jobs “the old fashioned way,” according to Lagunas. This means networking, calling to introduce yourself and following up at every stage of the hiring process. The best way to circumvent an ATS is by getting an insider to recommend you and hand deliver your resume.

But most importantly, you need to customize your resume and pepper it with keywords from the job description each time you apply, because the black hole has expanded from mega to micro organizations.

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