Two tips to avoid computerized hiring systems

This isn’t easy for long-term job hunters to hear, but the advice comes from people who make a living helping people find jobs.

I asked a group of career counselors what they tell job hunters who say they can’t get past the computerized hiring systems that reject them before they have a chance to talk to a human being, much less a hiring manager.

The group’s advice: Forget the computerized hiring system.

“If you’re responding to an ad, you’re already too late,” one adviser said flatly.

That may sound harsh, but it comes from experience. People who are landing good, professional jobs aren’t squeaking through digital screeners that put resumes in “in” or “out” piles. They’re finding job opportunities that aren’t even posted.

How? The counselors said two things are producing job offers: networking and volunteering.

Networking means finding the people who do what you want to do (or have hiring power over those jobs) in the organizations or industries where you want to work. It means going to chamber meetings and professional and fraternal organization meetings. It means creating face-to-face contact. It means telling basically everybody you know what you have to offer.

Read that last sentence again. That doesn’t mean asking everybody you know for a job. It means telling them what skills and experience you can bring to the table. Someone will know someone who needs you. That’s how networking works.

The second tip is to volunteer your time and talent. Volunteering expands your contacts, exposes you to more organizations, and gives you a bullet point to fill what otherwise would be a resume blank spot.

Yes, you can include volunteer work on your resume, especially if it’s professionally relevant. Just do it, the counselors said. And don’t say you’re too busy.