We all know that the majority of companies want you to submit an online application or to upload your resume (or both); they are scanned through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to see how your skills, experiences, education and the like are a match to the job you are applying for. From the feedback I’ve gathered from clients I’ve worked with, this is a lesson in futility and it can seem as if your uploaded information has gone to ‘the black-hole,’ never to be seen again.
The ATS has become common-place in the hiring process as organizations attempt to deal with the volumes of applications they receive for one job; I had a recent client state that there were 1253 who applied for the position they did (it allowed the numbers to be seen) – it’s no wonder this person never heard back. I think there is no formula or cookie-cutter method to ‘beat’ these ATS’s as each organization inputs their own data differently; it can depend on what each is looking for in the job and for who is best-suited to fill that role. However, there are some guidelines that most career experts agree on in order to get you noticed and move on to the next steps; here are some guidelines to follow:
- Key Words – this is what the ATS is looking for; these are embedded in the job descriptions so it is vital that you really read them to pick them out and match them to your skills and experiences. This will not only ensure that you are qualified for the position but that you are matching skills to required skills.
- Formatting – the structure and style of your resume can determine if it gets read by the ATS or not (or a live person, for that matter). The cleaner it is the better, meaning that you don’t want too many lines or bullet points as they may not be scannable; the font and size also are important – use an alternative font, such as Tahoma, Verdona or Ariel as these can stand-out vs Times Roman. Also, putting the key words in bold will enhance the chances to get noticed (but not too many bold words).
- Don’t put in tables, graphs or pictures as they won’t scan and will automatically get your resume rejected; save them for the hard copy you will mail or bring in.
The more strategic and structured you are in your job search the better your chances of getting an interview and the less frustrated you will feel. By reading the job descriptions you will not only match your skills to that job but you will be able to format your resume in order to highlight what you have to offer, as well as help you to prepare for when you do get called for an interview since you will know about the job and will have answered how you are the best person for the job.