Technology. It can be your best friend, or your worst enemy, especially when you are looking for a new job. Even though you can perform your job search online at all hours of the day and night, the loss of human interaction can make you feel like you are sending your resume into a black hole.
The automated process of submitting a job application doesn’t stop when you hit send. It also continues when your prospective company receives your information, because today, most companies are using automated Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to decide whether or not they should consider you for an interview.
These ATS’s are designed to search through a job candidate’s resume or application for a pre-determined set of keywords that match the job description. So, instead of having a live person read your resume to get a sense of your qualifications, a computer is looking for reasons to disqualify you, based merely on the fact that your resume isn’t in the correct format or that you may not have the right keywords listed.
If you want to beat the system and actually get your resume in front of a person, it is important to keep the following tips in mind the next time hit “apply.”
- Always read the job description before submitting your resume. Then tailor your resume so that it includes keywords or phrases from that description. For instance, if the description mentions wanting a candidate with 5-7 years of experience, make sure you list the number of years you have worked in your field
- Don’t over saturate your resume with keywords either. If you repeat keywords too often or pull direct lines from a description, the ATS will pick up on this and toss your resume in the no pile.
- Since some companies may not put common industry vernacular into their ATS, always spell out and abbreviate common industry terms. This will ensure that no matter how you refer to your skill set or experience, the ATS will pick up the necessary information
- Try to submit your resume in a text or .doc format. While a PDF ensures your formatting doesn’t change, some ATS’s cannot parse a PDF version accurately
- Don’t use headers, footers or complicated formatting. This can also through off the ATS algorithms
- If you have specific software or programming skills, do more than just list them. Be sure to also include some detail about how much you know about the programs and how adept you are at using them
- While infographics or graphically designed resumes are trendy in creative industries, save creative resumes for when you can email your resume directly to a person. Most ATS’s are not able to read these and will most like toss your resume because it thinks you are not qualified
- Title your experience as Work Experience and list your employment by company, title, and then years. Some systems are designed to search for the company first and then search for title and years you held the job