5 Things Applicants Can Do to Increase Their Chances of Getting the Job

Job applicant having an interview

By Susan Brennan

Recruiters are getting savvy about using data analytics to measure up candidates, but an algorithm isn't going to know whether a company's culture is a good fit.

It can't read body language or make eye contact. At the end of the day, relationships still trump technology.

At Epsilon, a global multi-channel marketing company, hiring for attitude is a big deal. The company has found that a "high touch" approach leads to good hiring decisions.

It's an approach that includes making phone calls and face time with applicants a priority. They even send gift baskets to students on the college campuses where they recruit during finals time.

The company says that on-campus college recruiting has been so effective that they are trying to replicate the process across all hiring (they make about 1,800 experienced hires each year). They are more interested in data analytics after the hire, particularly when determining top recruiting schools, based on the quality of hires during their first two years on the job.

There's no doubt that tools like résumé screenings and competency models have their place, particularly in streamlining processes and opening up doors for talent that might otherwise be undiscovered. Technology provides a more direct interaction between employer and job seeker, which gives more power to each side.

But what about the person who looks mediocre on paper but possesses the charisma, passion, and energy that will boost company morale, inspire the team, and make him or her one of your top performers?

The best bet for job seekers is to cover all the bases by learning to navigate the technology and by polishing their communication skills:

1. Tailor your résumé to the job or field you want to be in.

Get familiar with buzz words by reading up on the field or following a company on social media. These words will get picked up by bigger companies like Google and Facebook, who use analytics to sift through candidates and résumés. There are also résumé formatting tips that could help increase your odds.

2. Use keywords in your LinkedIn profile.

Recruiters will most likely be using some type of data search. A Bentley sophomore who had an inside sales position over the summer is getting pinged by potential employers due to his newly acquired knowledge of SalesForce and ability to "exceed quota."

3. Learn which competencies matter.

Many companies base hiring decisions on competencies such as grit, rigor, impact, teamwork, curiosity, ownership, and polish. Understand your competencies and be ready to provide examples of how you have demonstrated them in your work experience. Koru provides online competency assessments and in-person programs.

4. Create a top 20 list.

Research your top dream companies and find out how you can connect with them. College students can inquire with career advisers about on-campus recruitment and career fairs. Local chambers of commerce or industry organizations are also a strong resource, and social media is a good way to find out about a company culture and brand.

5. Network.

You can network online using LinkedIn, but nothing will replace face-to-face meetings. Having a contact at a company will help get your résumé to the top of the pile. (Your alumni network is a good resource for this.) Set up a research meeting where you can ask open-ended questions to learn more about the company.

Be sure to let your contact know how you found his or her name and how much time you need. Have your questions prepared, and don't turn it into a job interview when your original ask was for information. (Always follow up with a thank you note.)

No matter how tech-savvy we become, the tried-and-true high-touch approach will never completely go away. We're humans, not robots, and no algorithm has the power to change that.