Modern Day Human Resources and Applicant Tracking Systems
Does it feel like the “human” in Human Resources has been lost in the modern-day job search?
What is the ATS?
In the modern day “online job search,” companies are getting hundreds of resumes for their job openings, so they had to design be an efficient way to filter the top, qualified candidates. Thus, the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that was introduced more than two decades ago. One of my recruiter contacts told me she recently received 600+ resumes for one posted position! So, you can see what a monumental task it is to review and respond to every single resume received. It’s even harder when a resume is 10+ pages or the applicant is not the right fit for the job.
The ATS provides resume review time savings, allowing recruiters and hiring managers to be more efficient, and build a pipeline of candidates. However, it’s been said that 75% of applicant resumes are discarded simply because the words in their resume do not match the job description in the ATS, leaving the job seeker to “work the system” if they want to get in front of a human.
Additionally, online job descriptions often request a model candidate that doesn’t exist. If organizations can provide more reasonable and detailed job descriptions, this might engage candidates who are truly a match, rather than those just trying to “stretch” to match unrealistic or vague job postings.
Are companies missing out on top talent due to these systems? Here is some insight into both sides:
For Recruiters/Hiring Managers: From a Job Seekers Perspective-
- They just want a human to review their resume and provide feedback.
- Think outside-the-box and perhaps glance over the resumes that didn’t meet the buzzword criteria; your perfect candidate may be among that group!
- The job descriptions are difficult for almost anyone to fit 100%.
- Be well versed on the jobs you are recruiting for, understand the job seekers’ skills, and how they match. Job seekers get frustrated when you do not have a clear picture of what the job actually entails.
- They want to know where they stand and what the next steps will be after an interview. Even if it’s a “no, thank you,” don’t leave them hanging.
- Put yourself in their shoes and realize it can be a frustrating process.
Job Seekers should be treated with respect and you should provide a positive experience when working with you. Without them, you don’t fill your jobs!
For Job Seekers: From a Recruiters/Hiring Managers Perspective-
- Do not just submit your resume to a job/Recruiter if you aren’t at least an 80-90% fit! They are looking for a qualified candidate who can come in and hit the ground running.
- They get 100’s of resumes for each job they post. They cannot read every one in-depth. Make yours stand out and clearly show how you are a fit, in the few seconds they have to review.
- They cannot respond to every resume that they receive; if you don’t hear back, follow up. Just remember, you don’t have to email or call daily, or even multiple times a day!
- Customize your resume if you have skills that are not clear in your resume. Don’t make them search for it, it’s time consuming.
- Have a clear, concise, and easy to read resume. **NO SPELLING, GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION errors in your resume. It can disqualify you immediately. Have a professional write it or have a qualified friend review it.
- Explain anything that might be a red flag: gap in employment, job hopping, over or under-qualified, etc…
- Let them know if you need to cancel an interview or if you’re running late. They may have multiple interviews on a tight schedule.
It seems as though Applicant Tracking Systems and these processes are not going away anytime soon, so the question is how can we make this process most efficient for organizations, put the “human” back into the human resources process, and take the frustration out of this for job seekers and hiring managers? It would seem somehow a balance could be achieved between the two sides through patience, understanding, and a great resume!
How to Get Past the ATS System
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 exact keywords.
- Always start each entry with your employer’s name, followed by your title, then dates. (Each can run on its own line). ATS 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.
- Spell out abbreviations. Example: CIO (Chief Information Officer), 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.