An Applicant Tracking System is defined as the following:
Applicant Tracking System (acronym ATS) noun
1. Trickster robot designed to thwart job application efforts and deflect resumes into the recruitment black hole.
Alright. I may have made that definition up.
But if you’re a job seeker applying online to advertised positions with no luck, chances are an Applicant Tracking System is what you’re coming up against.
Unfortunately, in the modern job search world, the ATS is a necessary evil.
Recruiters use an ATS for narrowing the influx of applications to only those that are relevant to the job.
- The ATS scans your submitted resume.
- It highlights only those that match a predefined list of keywords.
This way the recruiter can find applicants with very specific skills for a very specific job.
So, let's discuss how to get past that "trickster robot," shall we?
1. Spot Signs of an Ats for Your Resume
If you are required to make a login ID, upload your resume, or fill out an online application, assume your resume will go through an initial screening by a robot.
Consider that approximately 60% of medium and 75% of large companies use ATS in order to eliminate up to 98% of applicants at the initial screen.
It’s important you understand how to optimize your formatting and content to increase the chances of it being read by a pair of human eyes.
2. Remember Formatting Fundamentals
When listing employment experiences:
- Lead with the company name
- Follow this with your job title
- Give a description and bullet points of key achievements
The date should always appear to the right of the company name for optimum reading by the ATS.
Don’t put your contact details in headers or footers. ATS doesn’t like ‘em. The information may disappear and destine you for application exile.
Keep typeface simple.
- Stick with Arial, Calibri, or Cambria.
- Use the same font throughout.
- Forget Times New Roman. It is super outdated!
The file naming convention should be your name and a keyword or two (ex: Bec OConnor_Civil Engineer_Resume).
3. Provide Content Clues
“Mirror” the job posting language on your resume.
- Copy and paste the job advertisement into a Word document.
- Highlight industry terms, buzzwords, and skills used frequently in the description.
- "Pepper" your summary, skills section, and experience with this same language and wording.
- Note: only do this if it’s in the context of your actual skills and experience as they apply to the role.
4. Spellcheck and spellcheck again!
Reading your resume backward is a weird and wonderful way to pick up on errors you may otherwise miss.
You should also be using an amazing app called Grammarly, which will catch the majority of your errors for you and offer corrections.
5. Tailor Every Single Resume
Whether your resume is going through an ATS or not, tailored it to the job.
With all that said, my final piece of advice (which might render everything I just told you useless) is this: Do not invest your time and energy into responding only to online job advertisements.
Job postings can be a useful research tool in your job hunt, but if you rely on them as your sole strategy, you will be sorely disappointed.
Why Did You Need to Know All of the Above?
Because knowledge is power.
If you’re not getting any bites, then you should know why ... and how to adapt.
To take control of your job search, you need to define and narrow your target.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What does my ideal role look like?
- What are my coveted companies?
Once that’s clear, you can tailor and create a powerful professional brand through your resume and LinkedIn while redirecting your time and energy into engaging your network.
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