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I'm applying for a job that I really want. I just applied online and the system only asked for my resume and some general questions. I believe that's because the firm uses some keyword tracking system to filter out applications.

I want to maximize my chance to be selected. I have prepared a cover letter, and I am thinking about making a portfolio over the weekend to showcase achievements in my career.

Would you suggest reaching out to HR or the hiring manager directly through email and send them my things? As this is not required, I don't know if doing this is appropriate. I don't have personal connections with the firm.

I'm also not sure who the hiring manager is, but through LinkedIn search I identified a person that I believe is very likely to be the one.

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  • Does this answer your question? workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/139755/… Jun 13 '20 at 15:26
  • I'm humbled to see so many constructive answers to this discussion. I think for now I will go the regular application process. If I don't hear anything in 7-10 days, I'll consider something more proactive. Thanks for your suggestions. If you can think of anything that will further increase my odds, please feel free to share. I hope other job seekers can also benefit from reading this thread.
    – LeonC
    Jun 13 '20 at 21:42
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Would you suggest reaching out to HR or the hiring manager directly through email and send them my things? As this is not required, I don't know if doing this is appropriate. I don't have personal connections with the firm [...] I'm also not sure who the hiring manager is, but through Linkedin search I identified a person that I believe is very likely to be the one.

I suggest you don't do this, even more if you don't have the connections or contacts to write to.

Their hiring process is already established, and if they require Resume only they must have their reasons (perhaps, speculating, further on the process they may ask for more things).

If a candidate uploaded something else rather than their Resume it would raise flags on that candidate's reading comprehension and ability to follow instructions.

Trying to bypass that process and abruptly reaching out to the Hiring Manager/HR without them ever giving you their contact is surely not going to give a positive impression (how come LeonC found my email?!), nor would it be fair for the rest of the candidates and the impartiality of the hiring process.

I want to maximize my chance to be selected. I have prepared a cover letter, and I am thinking about making a portfolio over the weekend to showcase achievements in my career.

Regardless of what suggested above, having a Cover letter and a portfolio to showcase your achievements is a good idea.

It would not harm you to have them ready in case you manage to pass to the next hiring step, or for other applications you may have in the present and future.

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A great way to get your resume "on top of the stack" is to ask someone you know already working at the company to refer you.

Often times, employees have access to hiring managers and internal recruiters representing those jobs. Managers and recruiters love getting direct referrals. It's far better a way to get good candidates than scanning for keywords in the dump of online submissions.

Obviously, you have to be diplomatic and sincere in a referral request. You are basically asking this person to take time out of their busy day to do this lookup, write a referral recommendation, and forward your resume along. So you should personally know the person you are asking to give that referral. Don't ask random people on LinkedIn you don't actually know - it won't a be a good look.

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While I generally agree with answer given by DarkCygnus that it's best to follow the process, I think it's important to point out that there are times when it makes sense to circumvent it. It is especially true when the way you would be perceived through the process is very unlikely to land you the job. Sometimes you are dead on arrival and you know it. And when that's the case, there is very little downside to going around the established process.

One example of that may be to write a heartfelt letter to the hiring manager. It can be in form of email, or actual physical letter (unlike emails, those do not come with tempting delete/spam button) where you explain why you've decided to circumvent the process, why do you think you are the best and what value do you bring. I certainly would not even try to hide what you are doing, everyone will know, so apologize for it, explain why and do your best to sell yourself.

While there is a chance that this will backfire and besides the "no" you may leave a lasting negative impression, from my personal experience it's rare as long as the candidate is respectful and doesn't try to pretend that this isn't what it is (on personal digression I've done this myself back in my young years, though I've vent further and simply sat at reception with CV in hand until someone from recruitment will see me).

This is certainly not something to do as "default" but rather a tool to keep just in case of an emergency.

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  • This is more or less a technique recommended straight out "What Color is Your Parachute?" on how to get your resume on the top of the stack. There was once a job listing online that matched my resume perfectly. After a week of not hearing back, I did some online stealth searches to find the hiring manager and emailed him my resume with a short and polite message personalized for him, his company, and the open position. He responded 10 minutes later to arrange an interview. I later declined the job offer after the interview. It was too similar to my old job. :)
    – selbie
    Jun 12 '20 at 21:48
  • @selbie not familiar with that book, but I cannot express enough how important in this approach is sincerity. If you don't have a strong reason to do it (being desperate for any work counts) then your letter won't sound true, nor will the interview. Jun 12 '20 at 21:55
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Keyword soup

A lot of applicant tracking systems do things using keywords, so one thing I do is add a single line of skills in regular font (skills that a human would recognize) and then a size 1 font of synonyms for those skills just under it in beige (as the systems can screen out white font).

Skills: Java, JavaScript, React, Python, Django, Git, GitHub, Shell, C++, CSS, Selenium, C, Unity, Android, SQL, Spring, Swift

And then I have a continuing line just underneath in 1px beige which looks like this:

Web frameworks: Node.js, React, ReactJS, Django, Flask, PHP, Corda, Sovrin, Cloud Services: AWS, Google Cloud, GCP, S3, Amazon Web Services, Azure, CloudFront, App Services, RHEL, CentOS, Hardware: Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Programming languages: Java, C, C++, C/C++, HTML,HTML5, CS3, LESS, SCSS, JavaScript,Java Script, Kotlin, Databases: MariaDB, MySql, Postgres, PostgreSQL, SQL General tools: Git, GitHub, Maven, Jenkins, GitLab, Misc: Electron, Docker, VS Code, Visual Studio, Intellij, PyCharm, Webstorm.

To make sure that I get all the synonyms which they may be using. If they use the search and open the PDF, they are none the wiser. If it turns out they are using a text extractor on the resume and just printing it to plaintext, it just looks like a long skills section.

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