Should Candidates “Game the System” to Get a Job?

This blog is for job seekers, candidates for hire. All my career has been devoted to helping companies hire almost all high performers. This blog takes the candidate point of view – what is the best approach a job seeker should take when applying? Should you try to outsmart a company’s hiring system? If you know someone who is looking for a job, you might pass along this blog.

My advice is: No. Be yourself, be transparent and real, and don’t try to outsmart the sophisticated technology designed to reject all but the best candidates.

As the economy opens and thousands of companies eagerly hire people, landing a job is difficult. Tens of millions of people are unemployed, and companies are swamped with resumes. Most companies use Applicant Tracking Systems that have algorithms, bots, and Artificial Intelligence tools that eliminate most candidates before anyone in the company actually talks with them.

If you’re looking for a job – if you’re laid off, furloughed, or a recent college grad – it’s frustrating! And it’s tempting to try to “game the system,” to outsmart the robots and hopefully get calls from company recruiters and actually talk with real human beings.

Last week my blog (How to Ace Job Interviews) advised candidates on how to prepare for job interviews and cautioned job seekers to be open, honest, and transparent – to NOT take the all-too-common advice to hype your accomplishments and hide your weaker points. We all have weaker points and to pretend you’re perfect won’t fool interviewers or robots.

I just read a great article with a disappointing title: Beat the Robots: How to Get Your Resume Past the System & Into Human Hands. The title made the article look like a primer on how to game the hiring “system.” But not so! The 8 ways cited in the article to “beat the robots” are honest ways to fill out an application without unnecessarily shooting yourself in the foot because you don’t know how the algorithms operate.

For example, books and articles on how to get a job might say robots are looking for key words like “sales” for a sales job, so type somewhere in your resume, sales, sales, sales, sales, sales. Or because AI is programmed to look for the words in the job description, just type, “I’ve read the job description—” and quote the description. Don’t do it. Technology is designed to spot, and reject, game players.

Conclusion:  Read the article linked to above as well as my blog from last week, and be transparent, because your openness will increase your chances of getting calls from companies you want to work for.

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