Why is it so hard to apply for a job through a company’s website?

This is a question I have been getting quite a bit lately and I decided to do some research.  It comes down to the fact that companies are adopting software known by the generic name “Applicant Tracking Systems” or ATS.  Companies simply do not have the manpower to go through all the job applications they are receiving.   This, naturally, complicates the life of the job applicant.

Whether you are copying and pasting requested information or your entire resume into a site, the formatting used in your original documents may be incompatible with the company’s software.  Then you don’t even make it to first base when you send off your information.  If you are having this problem and need to strip your documents/resume of formatting, click on the tab above labeled Plain Text ASCII.  This explains what plain text is, why we use it, and how to create a plain text copy of your work.

I have found two articles that give additional  tips in dealing with ATS.  Just click on the titles if you would like to look at them.  The first is “The Automated Applicant Tracking System – AKA: The Resume Black Hole” by Samantha Greenfield from the Northern Virginia Daily.  “Pass the Applicant Tracking Systems by Tweaking Your Resume” from the blog Browse Local Jobs is the second.

If this helps or you have suggestions based on your own job search, could you leave a comment below?  You could save other people a certain amount of  frustration in dealing with this entire process.  Thank you and good luck.


6 Responses to Why is it so hard to apply for a job through a company’s website?

  1. Angela says:

    My problem with applying for jobs online is constantly filling out the same information, the websites do not have cut and paste resume options to speed up the process. Assuming you can even get to the page where you fill out the application to apply for the job, or even if it is a real job or just a trick.

    • raknapsack says:

      It’s a good thing to be skeptical, especially if you are using a site like craigslist. You might try the following to copy and paste information into an application of interest that doesn’t appear to have that option. Once you have highlighted the information you want to copy and paste, try holding down the Ctrl key and tapping the letter C to copy it. Then you do a Ctrl/V combination in the same way to paste it into your application. Let me know how it works out.


  2. nick says:

    I am confused as to why staff members in shops and retail outlets say; “sorry, we don’t accept paper CVs/Resumes”.

    In these challenging times, making it harder to apply for jobs is not the answer. When these firms tell applicants to apply online as they “cannot accept paper CVs” it is impossible to apply as there has to be a vacancy open in order to continue with the online application. If there is no vacancy available then you have to leave the site. So therefore applicants cannot forward their CV at all to be placed on the firm’s records. It is no small wonder why the statistic of 2.7million in the UK unemployed stands. And if you are unemployed and can’t afford to get online and have a computer it is made twice as difficult. Then, to my surprise… You get told on some firm websites that you have to “go in store”, after a member of staff IN that store told you to “apply online”. Am I missing something here? Then the UK government moan at us for being unemployed!

    I do actually wonder also how existing staff actually manage to get a job with a firm that use this confusing way of recruiting. I may go into my local store and ask as I am under the distinct impression that they must use magic or be extremely lucky and or privileged.

    In all…

    CATCH 22

    • raknapsack says:

      Hi, Nick,

      You’re right. It is can be a Catch-22, no matter which side of the Atlantic you are on. This site originates in the United States (in Massachusetts). I am not familiar with the sites you use in the U.K. But I’m also guessing some things are universal, especially in the current economy. Are you in England at the moment and do you own or have regular access to a computer?

      I’m not sure how effective sending a resume to a company “cold” (not attached to a job opening) is. Companies are probably being inundated at this point and they have only so many people hours they can spend on the hiring process. Weeding can be pretty brutal, whether it is done by a person or a computer.

      I found the following article on finding job openings on a company website. I’m hoping it’s as applicable in England as here. If clicking on this doesn’t work, just hit the “Ctrl” key when you click on it, and that should do the trick.
      http://www.job-hunt.org/findingjobs/findingjobs_employers_listings.shtml If it doesn’t, just copy and paste into your location bar.

      My other suggestion would be using networking. Networking online is also known as Web 2.0 or social networking. Networking, both online and off (in person) is about two things — interaction and building a good reputation. You work with other people who get to know you and your work. Social networking online is definitely about what is happening now. Working with other people will help you find out what is available at this moment. People are the best source for job leads, whether it is in person or on the computer.

      Most people think of Facebook or Twitter as social networking. An even more powerful site is known as LinkedIn. Do you have this site in England? It is a social networking site for career professionals. LinkedIn is a good way to meet people in your profession or even working at the companies you are interested in. You need to give yourself a little time to learn how to use it effectively.

      If people and companies in England use this site, there are probably English books and publications on using it. You might want to check with your local public library. A pretty reliable site is “Howstuffworks.com.” You can find information on LinkedIn there at http://www.howstuffworks.com/search.php?terms=LinkedIn. You might want to start with http://www.howstuffworks.com/internet/social-networking/networks/linkedin.htm.

      A couple of good general sites are :
      Riley Guide at http://www.rileyguide.com/
      Job-Hunt at http://www.job-hunt.org

      When I first saw your post, I was tempted to fire back a quick commiseration. That is not what you need. You need answers to help get around a very messed up system. I thought about it and hope this helps.

      Let me know how you make out and good luck.


  3. amit says:

    Nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.Any way Ill be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon
    bba india

  4. Robert says:

    Great post, I found that it’s a pain most of the time to apply though company websites.

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