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19 June 2011

Gaming HR's Job Site Limits

Multi-talented people who qualify for multiple positions within large companies have a new reason to bypass HR and use networking to reach hiring managers. Large companies with online application systems create this situation by limiting the number of cover letter and resume versions applicants can use. This severely limits the number of positions to which one can apply.

For example, I applied for an Industrial Engineer (IE) position with a major Defense contractor. Their system stores only one version of an applicant's resume. When I applied for a Systems Engineer position, the system could only use the resume and cover letter I had crafted for the IE position.
  • Sidebar: That's Systems Engineer, as in multi-disciplined, end-to-end technical managers of projects. IT Systems Engineers and specialists in other disciplines are generally not Systems Engineers, even though many companies give them the title.
This practice allegedly limits the ability of resume-spammers to apply for jobs for which they do not qualify. Counter-productively, it also limits companies' access to high value, multi-talented people. An applicant could apply for multiple jobs under the old mail-in paper filing system, but poorly implemented technology places a governor on the flow of applications.

When HR looks at my application for the Systems Engineering job in two weeks, they'll see the cover letter and resume for the IE job and say I'm unqualified. In fact, they'll ask, "Why's this IE applying for a Systems Engineering position?"

Had I replaced the IE version with my Systems Engineering version, the same thing will happen. In fact, when the IE hiring manager goes to retrieve the IE versions of my cover letter and resume, they will no longer exist in the database.

Even worse, if I applied for all the positions I have the skills for, HR might consider me a job-spammer and ban me from the whole system.

Using a generic version does not solve the problem. For many reasons, generic resumes do not compete with tailored, targeted versions.

The systems severely limit how often you can apply for jobs, even if you're fully qualified for each one.

I may have found a way around this limitation for some job sites. Some offer a way to upload supporting documents such as certificates, transcripts, copies of licenses, etc. One can upload a file containing a tailored cover letter and resume. My hypothesis: If the primary resume in the database gets past HR's screeners, the hiring manager will see your "supporting documentation."

Game HR's web application system if you must. Better yet, bypass HR through networking.

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