You found a job opening you were a great fit for. You crafted your resume, wrote a polished cover letter, and submitted your job application with high hopes. After a few days or weeks, you get the rejection email, or you get ghosted by the employer, never hearing back about the status of your application. You were 100% qualified for the job. So, why did you get rejected?
The Bushel-Of-Apples Effect
You’re not getting interviews for jobs that you’re 100% qualified for because of the bushel-of-apples effect that happens when you apply online.
Think about it this way: You go into a store and decide to buy one apple. That’s all you’ve got the appetite for and that’s all you can afford. You walk over to the produce section and see a big bushel of apples. They all look good; they’re all roughly the same size and same color. But you’re only going to pick one. So, what do you do? If you’re really hungry, you might decide to pick a slightly bigger apple. Or if you like a certain color, you pick that one and discriminate against all the other apples that are completely okay and worthy of being picked, but you can only pick one.
That’s what employers have to do right now. And because of applicant tracking systems (ATS), they get thousands of applicants—not 10, not 15, thousands. This is why you are getting rejected over and over again. It’s not that you’re not qualified for the job; it’s the bushel-of-apples effect. You need to understand that the way to get selected is to not be in a pile; you need to go around the system. You need to be able to connect directly so that your message can get to a hiring manager and they can pull you from the pile.
This is what most job seekers do not understand today. That easy apply button and those online applications actually made job search harder because they make it possible for anyone to apply. You’re going to have to put in the extra effort to find a good job, which means you’re going to need to be pickier about who you apply to. Once you learn how to conduct a proactive job search (job shopping instead of job hunting), you can be way more intentional. You can pick who you want to work for and you can go after it differently so that you can get picked from the pile.
You’re not alone, my friend. That bushel-of-apples effect is just killing your chances on those applicant tracking systems and it’s going to require something different in order to get better results.
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