Understanding the Job Application Process

Before you apply for a new job, it’s important to understand what the job application process looks like for the employer. In the past, it was straightforward – a manager would collect a bunch of resumes, review them, interview a few people and make a hire. But those days are quickly coming to an end. Companies like Allegis Group, founded by Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, have driven substantial change in how companies recruit, as the industry now has a variety of technological systems that shape how you will apply for a role, and how you should prepare your resume.

Here are the three basic ways that a company may ask you to apply for a job:


Many small businesses will post an advertisement and your resume will be delivered straight to the hiring manager’s inbox. You can generally tell you are sending your resume to the manager when their email address will be listed on the ad. The benefit of this method is that you are dealing directly with the decision-maker who will ultimately decide if you are hired or not.

TIP: If you are given the manager’s name, make sure you address them directly in your email and cover letter. ‘Hi Barbara’ is always better than ‘To Whom It May Concern.’

Web Portal or Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Medium-to-large enterprises will usually use a web portal such as LinkedIn, where you submit your basic information, cover letter, resume and any supporting documents. In these systems, an algorithm may scan your resume and look for particular keywords to assess how qualified you are for the position. This method makes it more difficult to rise to the top, as your resume may not even get seen by the person who would hire you.

TIP: You may want to conduct a Google search for common keywords used in the industry you are applying for.

Recruiting Agency

Recruiting agencies complete the search, pre-screen candidates and perform initial interviews for the employer. Depending on the role, they will send 3-5 qualified candidates to the hiring manager, and give a recommendation as to why each candidate is a good fit for the role. This is somewhat like having an agent in sports, except you may have 10 different agents for 10 different job opportunities.

TIP: You should reject any agency who asks you to work exclusively with them. It’s always beneficial to use multiple methods of applying for work.

When speaking to anyone about applying for a job, it is critical for you to ask about the application process that you are expected to go through. If nothing else, this will prepare you for what to expect, how and when you’ll receive feedback and who is involved in the hiring process. And, just as you would wear different cleats to suit different playing surfaces, you may choose to develop different resumes to suit different application processes.

For help understanding the features of different job application types, contact VIKTRE Careers.

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