You recently left your job. Now, you start applying for jobs, and you might go follow-up 10 or maybe 20 companies at once. But what if you ended up with more than 1,000 job applications, that too made accidently.
Robert Coombs, who works at a national non-profit since 2012, started seeking jobs at major tech companies when he realized the teams which were trained under his supervision got better than him. While applying, Coombs discerned that most of such big firms deploy applicant tracking systems (ATS) designed to filter recruits by different keywords such as the previous workplace, schooling, academics, etc.
Coombs says he is not from an engineering background but he is known for somehow automating things for data processing, web content, etc. He devised a similar tool, which he modestly calls a robot, to automate the process of his job application. Basically, his system is a digital implementation of the Rube Goldbergian contraption, composed of crawlers, spreadsheets, and scripts.
You can recall the Tom and Jerry episodes to get a basic idea about the Rube Goldbergian contraption. Wikipedia describes it as a “deliberately complex contraption in which a series of devices that perform simple tasks are linked together to produce a domino effect in which activating one device triggers the next device in the sequence.”
The first version of Coombs’ robot could send customized emails to different hiring managers including a personalized cover letter and his resume. It could also track responses to those emails including the ones sent by autoresponders.
Even Coombs couldn’t guess the capabilities, or the restlessness, of his application firing robot machine gun. “The first time I fired it up I accidentally applied to about 1,300 jobs in the Midwest during the time it took me to get a cup of coffee across the street,” Coombs wrote in his post.
Obviously, he had to terminate the robot’s operations and focus on improvements. After bumping the version number to 5.0, Coombs finally ended up with 538 job applications. However, the hard work didn’t pay off as much as one would think.
The robot could do different combinations of email subject lines, resume versions, and different cover letters. His A/B test results concluded that the responses didn’t have many variations. In fact, the applications crafted by his robots performed better than this.
But in the end, Coombs got a call from 43 companies. These companies were small and generally didn’t had the ATS resume filtering system. He followed up with around 20 companies.
Coombs says that he received a positive response from most of the recruiters when he told them about his automatic process. For now, he has dropped the plans for a new job and started concentrating on his current job but cutting it down to three days a week. He wants to steal some time out of his schedule and meet interesting people. “Eventually, I’m hoping, one of those interesting people is going to ask for my resume so they can put it on top of a pile somewhere.”