Robert Coombs wanted to see whether he could land a new job. He was aware that, these days, organizations often employ applicant tracking systems to progress/fail incoming applications. Hence, Robert concluded that he had two challenges in his search for a new job:

  • He was up against leaders in their field, so his resume wouldn’t simply jump to the top of the pile.
  • Robots would read his application, along with those of his competition.

Being a tech enthusiast and having some programming skills, he decided to build his own application robot, capable of sending a customized CV and resume to the thousands of jobs posted online every day, in a matter of seconds. I strongly recommend you read his full story here, but these were his conclusions:

  • It’s not how you apply, it’s who you know. And if you don’t know someone, don’t bother.
  • Companies are trying to fill a position with minimal risk, not discover someone who breaks the mold.
  • The number of jobs you apply to has no correlation to whether you’ll be considered, and you won’t be considered for jobs you don’t get the chance to apply to.

What I found most amusing is that he A/B tested one normal-looking cover letter and a letter in which he that admits right in the second sentence that it was being sent by a robot. “Now, one of those letters should have performed either a lot better or a lot worse than the other. For my purposes, I didn’t care which” he states. But as far as he could tell from the results of this experiment, it seems that nobody even reads cover letters anymore – not even the robots supposedly used in application tracking systems.