How to get past the “Applicant Tracking System” (ATS) that is eliminating your resume when you apply for a job…
Have you ever sent out 10 resumes and never heard anything back? Unfortunately, it’s likely you have been screened out by a computer system and gone into the “black hole.” It’s very frustrating for job seekers, unless you know how to get past these systems.
HR Management Software called “Applicant Tracking Systems” are used by 90% of company’s today to electronically screen every resume that comes in, before a human ever sees it. And if you don’t pass this screening, a human will never see your resume.
Here is how the process works…
- A company uploads a job description into their applicant tracking system of choice, it automatically posts the job to their company website and likely various other locations they have setup. This sets the specified criteria for screening the resumes.
- When you “apply online” you are applying directly to the company, but through this ATS tool.
- Once your resume is uploaded, the system scans the information and awards a score to each applicant, based on how their resume fits the job description— it assesses how many buzzword matches you have in your resume, compared to the job description.
- After ranking all of the submitted resumes, the system rates you to determine if you move onto the next stage of the hiring process; an evaluation by a Recruiter or Human Resources Professional.
- Everyone else is pretty much thrown into the “not qualified pile,” also known as the “trash can.”
- Once you pass the system screening, most likely a Recruiter or HR Professional will review your resume and determine if your experience justifies a phone call. If you wow them over the phone, you will get an in-person interview with them and if you pass that test, you will finally get in front of the Hiring Manager.
As you can see there are multiple hurdles that you have to pass before you will even speak to the person who might hire you.
Here are a few tips to get past the ATS and get your resume into the hands of the Hiring Manager….
- YOUR RESUME MUST BE CUSTOMIZED TO THE JOB DESCRIPTION!! It must contain the keywords from the job description, if it’s not you won’t ever pass the initial screening.
- Always start each entry with your employer’s name, followed by your title, followed by the dates you held that title. (Each can run on its own line). Applicant tracking systems look for company names first.
- Fancy fonts, underlines, graphics and lines are all ignored by the system.
- Do not use tables or columns; they are disassociated from their headings in the system.
- Special accent marks and non-text characters (like diamond bullets) are converted to junk characters.
- White space is as important as keywords.
- Centered headlines are acceptable.
- It is a good idea to spell out abbreviations in addition to using the abbreviation itself, to make sure both are recognized as the keyword. Example: CIO (Chief Information Officer) or PM (Project Manager).
- Never cut and paste a cover letter/submittal write-up to the beginning of a resume document. That hurts the ranking because that is page one and doesn’t read like the resume.
- Send your resume in a Word document for best viewing.
You can significantly increase the chances of getting through an applicant tracking system if you follow these rules. If you need help ensuring your resume is in the proper format, follows these rules and is customized to each description but simply don’t have the time to do this, I can help!! I will prepare and customize your resume as you apply so that you aren’t wasting time sending resumes into the “black hole.” It’s much more satisfying to apply to 5 jobs and get 3 interviews than to apply to 20 jobs and only get 3 interviews by not following these guidelines.
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