The Black Hole: Insights into finding your way OUT of an Applicant Tracking System

We’ve all done it. Gone to the ‘careers’ web site of any given employer. Filled out a profile and attached our resume. Took some time to indicate areas of interest, listed our most desirable locations. Then we hit the submit button. Some of us may have even gone one step further and researched the current openings. Perhaps even applied for a few positions. Now what though? Where did the resume go? Is anyone ever going to see it? What about all those jobs I applied to that I was a “perfect match” for? Did I just waste my time submitting information into the ‘black hole’ of an Applicant Tracking System only to get lost in the shuffle?

I’m here to tell you that you have a fighting chance. :-)

In the past, I have worked for other companies. Now, I won’t call any out by name, but there was one that I can honestly say each and every time I got a new position, I had to completely start the recruiting process over. Even if it was for a similar position that I had recently filled. I had to go out and run the exact same searches I had run for the past opening, because the system didn’t allow me to easily pull back the candidates I had recently recruited or submitted. Example: In some cases, I had added multiple, extremely talented Digital Design Engineers into the database over the past few months. It was nearly impossible to pull them back out in a search though. I was forced to go back out to the Web, job boards, LinkedIn, etc. and RE-FIND these candidates or just find new ones all together. It was a miracle if I ran a search inside the system and the right people actually came back in that search. Never fear though! Technology has come a long way since then.

At Intel, the system we use is actually pretty robust. Now, not every recruiter you talk to will tell you the same story. I have worked in many environments though, with many different tools, and the one we use today, while not perfect (I’ve yet to find a PERFECT one), does a pretty great job of bringing back the right kind of candidates in my search. It’s similar to a Google* search you may run. You put in The results aren’t ALWAYS what you were hoping for, but there are still several links to the exact purse I want to buy! It’s the same thing with a candidate search. I’ve talked before about making sure your profile is ‘buzz word rich’. That is still the most valuable piece of advice I can give. If I’m looking for a Logic Designer with RTL experience and maybe some USB design exposure (which right now, I actually am ), it’s not going to help you if your resume doesn’t include the right key words. Keep recruiters in mind as your write or edit your resume.

Another piece of advice I can give you while navigating the ‘black hole’, would be to actively search the job postings on a regular basis. We have numerous recruiters here supporting a large number of hiring managers. One job may get approved and posted at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday and 17 more might get approved the following afternoon. If you aren’t watching, you might miss something. Most systems now offer you the chance to be notified when jobs match your profile. Some people opt out of this, but it might be a mistake doing that. I always tell people that if you get 10 messages in your inbox that are not relevant to you, well guess what, JUST DELETE THEM. :-) It is as simple as that. I do it all the time.

One more insight I would like to provide is a newer process we’ve worked out here at Intel. Historically, every candidate that applied (sometimes up to 1000+) just sat in a folder associated with a requisition. Recruiters had to wade through the pile and hope that they found a good short list of qualified candidates to present to the hiring team. Now, we’ve got a better way of finding the people in that mix that are most qualified for an opening. Each position you apply for will have prescreening questions associated with it. We create them specifically with the requisition requirements in mind. So your best bet for being seen is to always complete those screening questions. If you are a solid match to the minimum requirements, you have an excellent chance of being presented to the hiring team! It might take you an extra 30 seconds to fill out the questions when applying, but I assure you it is in your best interest to do so.

I know in this job market, it can be very frustrating when you take the time to complete a profile across multiple employers and don’t get much of a response. Keep trying. Don’t lose hope. A lot of candidates find their way out of the system and into a nice comfy cubicle inside the walls of Intel. That next candidate could be you!

47 thoughts on “The Black Hole: Insights into finding your way OUT of an Applicant Tracking System

  1. Tiffany, thank you for this insight. It is reassuring to read that there is hope after submitting for specific jobs. I can only imagine how many individuals throughout the country (and throughout the world) apply for jobs at Intel everyday.
    What about follow ups? We have always been told to try to follow up with the recruiter/hiring manager, or include their name in the cover letter. But with the way career pages are set up for many companies, you can not really address someone in your attachments.
    Does it hurt when I say the good old “Dear Hiring Manager”?
    And with the new layouts, are we saying goodbye to follow ups?

  2. Hey Tiffany,
    I certainly am one of those candidates trying to find their way out of the system and into one of the Intel offices ! In this regard,could you help me get in touch with the recruiter/hiring manager at Intel who recruits for the Business Analyst roles in the US(in California if you want me to be location-specific)?
    Your help is much appreciated.
    Thanks & Regards

  3. Yes,I’ve done it. Gone to the ‘careers’ web site . Filled out a profile and attached my resume. Took some time to indicate areas of interest, listed our most desirable locations. Then I hit the submit button. I even gone one step further and researched the current openings. Perhaps even applied for a few positions. Guess how long ago I have done it, two years back and I still update and apply for openings, since then not even one call or email from a recruiter even though I have all the required skills and knowledge, not even a rejection email, I get some automated response “after careful consideration, you were not selected blah blah….” in the morning at 3:52 A.M., I think that is the time the job expires from the system, you know how frustrating and disappointing it’s to see this first thing in the morning.
    Last week, I went to a local job fair and met with Intel recruiter and when I asked for his card, he pointed towards career pages and the automated system. It seems recruiters rather than keeping a close contact with potential employees tries to avoid people and their email and phone call at all costs. After all, isn’t it your job to talk to people and clear any questions they have?
    It’s easy to say don’t give up or don’t lose hope but after two years of constant trying, I am going to give up atleast with Intel.
    This technology might be too good for you recruiters as it lessens your work load, but for us it’s a black hole with nothing coming out other than computer generated automated responses at 3.52 A.M.

  4. @Syed, Follow ups at Intel can be a bit tough! We are such a large corporation with many recruiters! It may not always be possible to follow up, so just make sure you completely fill out your online application and that helps us see your resume more often. From what it sounds like, you are writing cover letters and doing a general address to a Hiring Manager. This is perfectly fine, but if I’m being honest, I’m not sure many people take the time to read cover letters. You are better off just making sure your resume is concise and all relevant skills and detail are present. Hopefully that clarifies!

  5. @Diz – Can you give me a feel for your background? Are you a new graduate, or experienced? Do you have the permanent unrestricted right to work in the US? Years of experience? That may help guide me in the right direction for you. I’ll wait for your response and then direct you from there! Thanks for reading!

  6. Hey Tiffany,
    Now I understand why Intel is so good. I am amazed at the level of commitment you have in addressing the comments of your readers.
    As for me, I am new (Master’s)graduate with less than 1 year of experience. And no, I do not have the permanent unrestricted right to work in the US. Please let me know if you need anything else.
    I shall look forward for your reply. And do keep up the great work!

  7. @Diz – You indicated you had interest in Business Analyst type roles. I’ll be honest. Intel doesn’t sponsor business type roles for Visa Candidates. We are only able to sponsor people with a Masters + in an engineering type discipline that is in short supply inside the US. For Business roles, we rarely have a short supply to justify the expense.

  8. @John Smith, You know, it’s these stories that bother me the most. Especially the part about our recruiter not giving you a business card. I think one of the issues (that we absolutely need to address and resolve) is that we will send recruiters to events, that sometimes are really focused on a specific skill set. So, if you have that skill set, they will give you their card because they know they can help you. If your skills are outside of their scope, they have less access to the kinds of jobs you need to be looking at. Also, I know some of our recruiters never ordered business cards. I don’t know why! Seems silly. You are right. We are recruiters and should absolutely open ourselves up to candidates with interest in our company. As far as the auto generated system sending you a ‘no thanks’, I know a while back we were told by candidates that they didn’t want as many update emails as we were supplying. So, we shut that feature off. We have now gone back to SOME communications to candidates, but still try not to swamp your inbox. I really do wish you the best of luck, and I’m truly sorry for the experience you encountered! I’ll definitely pass your feedback along.

  9. @ Tiffany, Thank you very much for understanding. I come from Digital design (RTL) background. I am sorry for my rant in my previous post, but that is how I truly felt at that point, especially after receiving a rejection mail from a computer. Anyways, now the market is picking up, I don’t want to leave any loose ends, I will continue applying for Intel. Thanks, you are the best. Happy Halloween.

  10. Thanks for the great post Tiffany. With all the automation involved it is certainly reassuring to know that real people actually take the time to examine the applicants!
    I graduated summer of last year and am currently seeking positions for RCGs. I found some manufacturing jobs that I believe will be a fit for my current skills, but my bachelor’s degree doesn’t quite match the majors listed in the qualifications section. Will this kill my chances? I know some family and friends who currently work at Intel now (at the Oregon campuses), and some of them have worked in these positions without meeting those requirements. Has that changed from years past?
    I would love to find entry-level (or RCG) positions to get my foot in the door, especially after hearing so many great things from people who work there!

  11. @Johnny – Here’s the deal. The discipline is not ALWAYS a deal breaker, so make sure you apply to what is of interest to you. Be advised though, that some managers are sticklers. If they want a specific degree, and they get 50 applicants qualified that have it, chances are, they will go with one of those people. NOT ALL MANAGERS are that way though. :) Hang in there, and keep applying! Thanks for the comment!

  12. I would like to give some feedback regarding the careers website, it typically allows five attachments and not more than that, when i have an updated resume , I have no other option other than to delete one of my attachments which would mean that it will be deleted from all those applications for which i had used that resume..I hope I havent missed anything.. can this be fixed by leaving that resume on for the prior applications..

  13. @sahiti – I have heard this raised as an issue in the past, but I actually stand by the 5 attachment limits. As a recruiter, I would rather see one resume that is representative of a candidates work experience, education, etc. rather than seeing 4 or 5 alternative versions of a resume. I also see people obsess over cover letters that are never really looked at. If I had any advice, it would be to write a very solid resume that covers everything relevant and use that one for each position you apply for. I can assure you that a lot of candidates do this and it definitely works! Hopefully that helps. Thanks for your feedback!

  14. Hi Tiffany, I completely agree with your stand of limit of the five, before i try to make my query clearer, do the recruiters see all the 5 attachments for a particular opening even though the applicant chosses any 2 of them? If yes, then my question is solved, else my query was, suppose i have something updated in my resume for the opening i am going to apply now,because my eligibility is already done, i would delete a resume ,which i have used for the req say , 12345, now when I login to that application , i would see that “no resume” is attached for the application for that req. which might put the candidate in trouble, with a good number of applications that i make .. it will be easier for me ,if i know which application is missing a file ( because i made way for another one) so that i can upload my new resume.Thanks!

  15. @sahiti, Once you delete your resume, it is no longer visible to hiring managers or recruiters. We would have to go pull an archived copy to see it, and we really don’t ever do that. This is why I strongly recommend having one solid/thorough resume, and using it for all applications. Managers deal with a high volume of applicants so it’s important to have a resume on file and visible to them. I’m afraid if you don’t, they may not have or take the time to request it from you, but rather just go with another candidate that does have a complete profile.

  16. Het Tiffany,
    Gotcha!! the best solution is have an all round “ONE” resume with the keywords “TAILORED” for all the postings I am interested in, “CONCISELY”. Thank you so much for the input, I highly appreciate your efforts to reach out to Intel aspirants like me.

  17. Tiffany,
    After visiting the Intel website, filling out my profile for financial analyst roles and being a bit down on the whole “black hole” feeling, I have new hope that I will at least have a fighting chance to be apart of this amazing company. I have never seen such a candidate friendly environment before. The wealth of information Intel provides their customers and potential employees is just spectacular. Also, now that you have explained the details of the process, would you recommend against attempting to contact a recruiter at the location in which you were applying for a job, especially if it has multiple locations available since there is a process for which applicants will be handled? I’d hate to get off on the wrong foot. Thanks TIffany!

  18. @Elizabeth – Contacting a recruiter at a specific location is not always the way to go. I say this because recruiters at Intel recruit for positions across the US. My OR recruiters could very easily be supporting req’s in AZ or NM or TX! Your best bet is to see who may be working on Finance specific openings and then attempt to reach out to them. Best of luck!

  19. Tiffany,
    It is good that you have explained the complete recruitment process a typical manager would do at Intel. I have been applying to Intel for the past 3 years but haven’t got any calls. I have all the keywords/qualities in my resume but no luck.I am a recent college grad(MSEE) from San Jose state working as an intern at synopsys and interested in RCG positions at Intel.

  20. @Santosh – The only explanation I can offer is that we have been able to find US Workers at the MSEE level with similar skills. We are required to hire a US worker first. If you had a specialized skill that was hard to come by, you may get more calls/interest. It is not easy to sponsor unless we absolutely have no US Workers to fill the role.

  21. Hi,
    Many people feels that Intel give preference to girls. Even many of my Intel friends (girls)admits their managers very too supportive to them than they were to boys.
    Girls always have high chance of getting interview call and then getting onto job without much screening in interview.
    How do you justify then, Intel is Equal Opportunity Employer.

  22. Hi Tiffany,
    It was good to see how the things go on inside Intel. But I am wondering how can we get a chance to reach the right hiring manager. I mean apart from

  23. @Kalyan – The very best way to get to the right hiring manager is to apply to positions you are highly qualified for. Due to the volume of applicants we receive daily, if we gave out our hiring managers contact information, they would have no time to actually do the work! :) Keep checking our jobs and applying for what you are qualified for. Thanks for the comment!

  24. @John – Intel is absolutely an Equal Opportunity Employer. I am sorry you have the perception that we prioritize women over men. This is not the case. Intel strives to hire the best and brightest, 100% of the time. If that person is a woman, then absolutely, we will pursue her and be her champion as she develops within the corporation. We offer this same service to the men we pursue and hire as well! We do not hire anyone without a thorough screening either. I assure you that Intel strives very hard to hire a diverse workforce. This means men and women alike are needed to help us in this quest!

  25. Hi Tiffany,
    I am a final year student from India. I am one of the many unfortunate people who didn’t get a place in Intel at campus recruitment… simply not because I was not qualified but because I was not allowed to submit my resume for consideration under the pretext of having a placement in a software company previously(one that I did not intend to) I would like to request only one thing … please at least in the future make sure that Intel on college campus is a dream offer..Surely as a company of so much repute, anyone would expect Intel to be a dream offer…As for the applicant tracking system, all I get is simply regret mails..and I have lost hope in it. That I take so much time to fill out not only my profile also keep applying for UG intern openings specifically, it is really distressing. As an undergraduate student doing my final semester, what should I put on my profile to catch the attention of recruiters. Please help.

  26. @Sindhu – We’re sorry to hear about your troubles! We’ll get in touch with you via email to speak more, but remember there are definitely a lot of helpful posts on the blog about how to create strong resumes and candidate profiles, so don’t be afraid to check those out if you’re still having difficulties.

  27. Hi Tiffany,
    Thank you for the insights. I am one of those people who were unfortunate enough to graduate in 2009 when the market condition was very bleak. So, despite having a Masters degree in Electronics Engineering I’m having a tough time. I have also applied to open positions online but I believe that the projects listed on my resume(during course work I mean) are making it a little difficult as they are mostly based on RFIC designs. I wanted to know if Intel(in India) ever hires people in this domain? I have come across a similar requirement once or twice in similar areas and have applied but never heard as to what happened. How to ensure that the profile is seen by the right hiring manager?

  28. @Harika – Let me forward your information to one of our India recruiters. They can reach out to you with more information, as I am not familiar with hiring in that region. To ensure your profile is being seen by the right hiring managers, I would recommend having a ‘buzz word’ rich resume that includes all of your skills and interests. Also, continually monitor our job postings at We post new positions regularly and if you apply to those you are most interested in and qualified for, you have a good chance of being presented to hiring teams! Best of luck!

  29. Thanks for such an insightful post. I found the discussion board extremely helpful, not just in terms of hiring at Intel but what recruiting managers look for. I do have friends who are employed at Intel, Hillsboro and I’ve heard highly of the culture. I have applied and am hopeful that at some point, I make it atleast to the interview process!
    I’m currently based out of NY and work for a digital ad agency with 3 years of experience. I have an MBA from India and a Masters’ in Brand Management from a leading graduate program in the US. I’m wondering if Intel has sponsored H1B candidates in the Marketing Department in the past (esp. in the Product Management fields). I’ve always wanted to make the shift from the agency to client side of the marketing/advertising discipline and Intel has always been one of those companies that I’ve aspired to work with. Thanks in advance for your consideration.

  30. Hello Tiffany,
    Firstly, thanks a lot for writing this post. This is indeed very motivating. I have been applying for jobs through the online application system at Intel and , unfortunately, I have not been able to get any calls so far. Like Diz, I am also wondering if there is some way by which I could get in touch with the hiring managers at Intel.
    I am a Masters student from India pursuing graduate studies at US expecting to graduate soon (sometime around May this year). I have 2 years of work experience as an embedded systems software developer. I am looking for full-time positions in the field of computer architecture, CAD development and embedded systems. I seem to have done most of my homework carefully reviewing each job position and applying to only relevant ones. Like you mentioned in this post, I have also included plenty of keywords in my CV. So far no luck!
    I would be extremely grateful if you could help me out! Thanks in advance.

  31. @Vivek – Thanks for reading! I went ahead and pulled up your resume. Looks solid! Let me see if I can talk to some of the recruiters for you to figure out what the hold up is. I’ll ask them to contact you directly.

  32. @Tiffany
    Thank you for the super quick response to my comment ! I know you have heard this before, but I am delighted and amazed at how committed Intel is to respond to the reader’s comments here.
    Thank you for pulling up my resume and helping me out. I really appreciate it!

  33. Hi I was one of the proud finalists of Intel India Embedded Challenge 2010. I am applying for internships and jobs for the past three years in Intel. I hold a good academic record with two patents. My project is selected for incubation by Indian Institute of Management, Banglore. All the time my job application is being rejected. I am going to graduate by this May. Can you please tell how do I get qualified for Intel? I am occupied as EMBEDDED SYSTEMS faculty on a part time basis in ACCESS POINT INDIA PVT LTD.

  34. Hi,
    I don’t care whether you post this article or not..but I need the message conveyed…I know this is a little bit harsh on you guys…but truth is hard. First of all, Intel, India need not have a candidate portal at all….because nobody ever gets a call at Intel India through candidate portal. Second most hiring is done through employee referrals..let me ask if a really talented person does not know even a housefly at Intel India and desperately wants to get in..he stands no chance. Thus DO NOT CALL YOURSELF EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER. If you do not have an open mind in hiring people..why post them on job boards like Linkedin…there a hiring manager gives no response even for inmails sent..good etiquette you people have got…Why don’t you tell them that you are not hiring people from outside and you like employing only the people who intern with you..or know people in higher posts…post this information on your site..DO NOT DISCOURAGE THE TALENTED ONES…Instead of waiting for your reply for the entire life, they can shift their focus elsewhere.

  35. Lily – I’m really sorry to hear about your experience. I’m not sure I agree with everything you’ve said, but I certainly respect your right to voice your particular concerns. I tried to pull up your resume in my system to see if I could find any reason why you would not have been called, but couldn’t find it. I would be happy to take a look at it and review, if you want to send me a copy. Look forward to seeing how I can help!

  36. hi im a master’s student studying computer science, i don’t have any experience in Electronics and I have not taken any hardware/Comp Architecture courses, Should i apply to Intel ?

  37. @Raj- Could you tell us a little more about which specific jobs/internships you have been applying for? We could pull up your profile, which might give us more insight as to why you haven’t been able to get a foot in the door at least.

  38. Hello Tiffany,
    Thank you very much for connecting to all of us. This post is motivating and encouraging for all aspiring graduates to be part of Intel. I am a M.S graduate in Electrical Engineering and I am currently a research associate with my Professor in Southern California so far. I have published journal papers in Analog field. I recently relocated to bay area and I am a permanent resident and have been applying for full time positions online but unfortunately no calls so far. If you can please help me getting my resume to the hiring managers, if possible, that would be great. Thanking you in advance.

  39. HI Tiffany,
    First of all I want to say thank you for taking your time to answer our questions. Right now I’m still a college student pursuing my bachelor degree in Finance. Before I graduate, I want to get an internship at Intel. Ideally I want to get an internship abroad with intel, but what are my chances of getting that position if I didn’t know their( the countries I applied to) native language?

  40. Hi Tiffany,
    first of all thank you so much for your personal interest that you are taking to each and every job seeker people at intel.I am currently pursuing MSEE at california state university and I heard that Intel giving internship to only some big name schools students.I am looking for summer internship as an intern engineer at intel and I applied for many summer intern position but I am not getting even single reply. please can you tell me that does that make any difference to intel hiring managers that in which school we are pursuing our degree?

  41. @Dhwani – Thanks for your comment. Intel does like to pursue talent from the very best engineering schools in the country. That will never change. We hire quite a variety of students from a lot of different schools though too. As long as you are the strongest qualified candidate, we’ll make you an offer. For International Students, it can be a little harder because we have to verify that there are no US Permanent Right to work students that can fill the position first. Be patient and hang in there! Thanks again!

  42. Hi, Tiffany. Just discovered the blogs tonight and your great post. A couple of questions:
    1) I am a prior Intel RTL design engineer let go in the layoffs of 2007. Does that experience help or hinder my chances of being re-hired?
    2) Since then, I went back to school and earned an MBA in finance and master of accounting degree in May 2010. I am still looking for employment. I see that the window for finance RCG reqs is now summer 2010 to winter 2011. What happens when the window shifts more? I won’t have enough experience to apply for experienced finance positions and I will be outside the RCG window. Am I out of luck?
    3) I know that many interns are converted into full-time hires. Is it too late for me to be considered for an internship? I’d happily work temporarily in order to get my foot back in the door.
    4) Would it be better for me to pursue an engineering job and make a lateral change into finance in the future?
    Thanks in advance for your time and reply.

  43. @Kevin, If you had solid performance while here at Intel, it can help being a former employee. We have no problem rehiring! :) You are correct about your finance question. We hire all of our finance people in as New Graduates. You have 18 months to secure a finance role or you would have to consider a different means of landing a job with Intel. To be considered for Internships, you must still be currently enrolled. If that is not the case, then you wouldn’t meet the requirements. Also on your last question, we definitely hire more engineers than anything else, so that may be your best bet to getting your foot in the door again! Good luck!

  44. @MARQUES: Thank you for your response and sorry for my late reply.I have been applying for graduate intern technical and undergraduate intern technical openings. All my applications are being rejected repeatedly. Pls guide me in getting into Intel.

  45. hi Marques. I have been applying for undergraduate intern positions in Intel for the past two years. But all my applications are being rejected. As i told already I have a good academic profile. I was one of the finalists of Intel India Embedded challenge 2010. I hold two patents and a good academic record. Please guide me land on Intel to start my career.

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