Let’s talk about where you come from. I don’t mean your hometown, your country of origin or your last job; I’m talking about the source of your résumé in a company’s applicant tracking system (ATS). It could mean the difference between a phone call from human resources and a “thanks, but no thanks” letter.

ATSs can store the original source of a résumé; that tells companies whether the résumé came from a specific job board, an employee or partner referral, a cold call, a networking event, etc. Based on past experience, an employer might have gotten its best hires from newspaper classifieds, online postings or employee referrals. It’s in a company’s best interest, and a usual practice, to try to find similar talent from those same sources.

One client of mine — a vice president of HR — applied to a legal firm and was scheduled for an interview. Two days before the interview, he got a call from the company and was told they had decided to go in a different direction. I made some phone calls to people familiar with the matter and found out they decided to hire only applicants from a local HR association. As my client had applied through Craigslist, they canceled his interview.

Someone who works at the University of Washington told me that her department prefers to hire applicants through The Seattle Times. She said the newspaper’s demographic has provided the best hires, so she keeps recruiting through that method.

A large advertising agency in Woodinville says it doesn’t consider anyone who applies through the company’s website or Monster. Someone at the agency told me that its worst applicants tend to come from those sources, so it looks only at partner and employee referrals.

A medium-size medical company in Bellevue recruits only those who participate in certain medical groups on LinkedIn. Several local tech companies like to hire people who attend their tech talks. Some employers prefer interviewing and hiring applicants they meet at career mixers.

What does this mean for you? Before sending in your résumé, try to find out which source you should use. Because it matters, simply changing your method to one the employer prefers can greatly increase your odds of getting noticed and scheduled for an interview. The last thing you want is to be categorized with the misfits and bad hires simply because you failed to do some research beforehand.

In my next post, I’ll tell you where to get this information. I’ll also give you several other research techniques to use before submitting your application.

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6 Responses to Where you come from matters

  1. […] reduce your chances of working there. The employer may prefer another method. In my column “Where you come from matters,” I discussed the variety of ways that employers hire. While Expedia prefers employee […]

  2. P. Prindeville says:

    That’s surprising. When hiring foreign workers, for instance, companies are required to make jobs available on a variety of media as part of their due diligence for trying to hire a citizen (or resident alien) first before resorting to an H1B application.

    As I recall, recruiting via their own company resources (job boards, internal announcements, and yes, career website) are part of those federal requirements.

    Admitting that they won’t take applications from their own career website risks invalidating any green card hires they may have done (or plan to do).

    Their are similar requirements for HR to prove that they don’t discriminate against veterans, people with disabilities, etc.

  3. Nancy says:

    That is annoying! I’ve talked with so many people who say to me: Go to our website, and make sure you list me as a referral. Or go to our website and look through the openings.

    It’s as if they are scared to give a real reference.

    I’m confused. Are you saying that employers want a hard copy or direct email resume application and not something submitted on the database board?

  4. Kathy says:

    That may be accurate information, but it’s certainly irritating . . . one more barrier for job seekers to navigate. Plus, it indicates such narrow mindedness on the part of those employers. If Prince Charming had limited his search to typical princess sites, even those that had proven to be successful venues in the past, he would never have found Cinderella.

  5. Dawn says:

    It’s helpful to know their “strategy” or preference or what’s working for them. Noticing the other comments listed here, I think the important thing is to “be the best ‘you’ that you can be”. Ultimately, I think that will stand out, and supernaturally bring you to encounter the group you’re meant to work with. It’s helpful to know that “Where you come from matters” and use this information productively to guide your search activities.

  6. I enjoyed the coaching session I went to at Prolango, and I rarely rely on sending emails with my resume, that would be foolish, since hiring managers and recruiters play games with candidates and this is a global thing. Networking is the best way to land a role, but not with other job seekers, instead it needs to be targeted to hiring managers and the only way to do that is at trade shows, conferences, seminars in your industry, in the past 10 years this is the most successful way I’ve located new employment. You also need to understand something about how people in this region behave, and you’ll be half way there. Going to a Prolango class is like taking a shot of hard alcohol, the harsh reality does hit the senses.