Career Development The Resume

Tips for Getting Your Resume Past an Applicant Tracking System

After toiling for what seemed like an eternity, you finally earned your stripes.  You are a graduate! Liking the sound of it, don’t you? What now? Well, if you are not ready to face the trenches yet, you might think about going for a Masters degree.  But if you have had it with the academic routine, now is the time to test your mettle and get a job.

At the outset, it goes something like this: prepare a resume, send it to employers (also post on job portals), wait for the response, go through interviews and finally an optimistic soul would give you a try.  In the prehistoric times (before job portals and online recruitment systems), humans used to filter and then read your resume.  However, now, automated Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are doing the filtering in many cases, especially in large companies.

How Applicant Tracking Systems Work?

Your first challenge is to get past this gatekeeper (ATS).  In order to do so, you should know how an ATS works.

  • You upload the resume, then it is scanned;
  • It is stripped down to the bare essentials, i.e. the formatting and styling is removed;
  • The text is broken down into strings of characters;
  • The system then looks for contextual keywords and phrases in different categories such as skills and experience etc. (Tip: Don’t think about stuffing keywords because the newer ATS can’t be fooled as they match the keywords in the context of your skills, experience etc.);
  • Finally, a score is assigned to the resume and based on this score, it is decided whether the resume will meet the eyes of a human recruiter or not;

Here is a word of advice from someone, who knows about ATS. According to Lisa Rowan, program director of HR, Learning and Talent Strategies for Framingham, Mass.-based analyst firm IDC, “a keyword such as “Java” had “better be framed by descriptive material that demonstrates experience and familiarity with the subject… This next-generation ATS software will examine the entire passage as if it were a human reading your resume: closely, and with an understanding of the subject matter.

Tips to Charm the Applicant Tracking System

  • Use MS Word format for uploading your resume in the system; other commonly used formats like PDF may not work well with ATS;
  • You may think that you have a winning smile but leave it to impress the recruiter in-person. Don’t use pictures or background images such as logos because they may interfere with the processing of your resume;
  • Bulleted lists are better than paragraphs;
  • Overly cluttered resumes are difficult to scan, so allow a reasonable amount of white space in your resume;
  • Use the job description to your advantage and use the information given in it such as job title, headlines and the words used to describe various aspects of the job;
  • You can use online tools to find the right keywords, for example, you can input the job description in TagCrowd and it will give you the frequently used words associated with the job description;
  • Although there are hundreds of ways to display information in the resume but when dealing with ATS, it is better to use the tried and tested ones. For example, in the employment history section, put employer’s name first then your job title and finally the dates;
  • Since ATS are becoming more and more intelligent and heavily use the context, try to describe each job activity in a reasonably detailed manner;
  • Do you know the golden advice for preparing a resume? Watch the spellings. There is nothing worse than having incorrect spellings in your resume.  Another pitfall is overlooking punctuation and using slangs/acronyms, we have become so used to texting and chat that it has become second nature to skimping on the proper usage;

Finally, don’t focus on beating the ATS because if you do that, you are bound to resorting to tactics that will harm you more than helping you.  Be true to yourself, express who you are by intelligently using the knowledge of the recruitment process and the related technologies like ATS.

About the Author:

Sharen Stuart is a creative writer currently serving her profound creativity at Dissertation Mall as a dissertation proposal writer helping those who lacks academic skills. She’s got a dynamic personality and also a knack for creative art.

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