It is essential for job seekers to bear in mind that 40% of hiring managers’ use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to screen candidates for their job positions. They also help in applicant testing, scheduling interviews, managing the hiring process, checking references, and completing new-hire paperwork. Applicant tracking system software provides recruiting and hiring tools for companies by separating strong candidates from the weak. The technology uses the way your resume is written to decide as opposed to the information it conveys.
If you’ve been trying to secure a job for a while but it’s just not happening then it’s time to consider the possibility that maybe it’s the ATS that is preventing you from getting the traction that you were expecting.
Here are some ways how you can beat the ATS and get your resume past the robots to land that dream job:
Keep Formatting Simple – ATS require simplicity. It’s recommended that you delete those extra “touches” that you’ve added to the resume like logos, pictures, symbols, and shadings. Use plain text Word documents and stick to resume formatting in a normal font like Arial, Courier, or Times New Roman. The ATS can’t digest fancy fonts and your resume will be rejected out of confusion. PDF documents should also be avoided. Use a font size of at least 11 points and margins of at least one inch on all sides.
Use Standard Section Headings – ATS use headings to navigate your CV so that the information in each section can be carefully analyzed and understood. Therefore, it is advisable to use simple headings that can be easily recognized by ATS. There are plenty of ways to phrase your headings such as, “Professional Summary”, “Career Summary”, “Work Experience” and “Work History”. No matter which title you use, stick to these standard headings to make your resume look clean, professional and ready for ATS. If you over customize your heading (For example – “About Me” and “Accreditations”), it will become more difficult for ATS to analyze your resume because they do not have the ability to recognize non-standard headings.
Don’t touch headers and footers – Just to make your resume stand out, do not use colorful images, graphics and even tables and fancy typefaces as it will confuse ATS. It’s advisable to leave headers and footers empty with standard 1 inch margins. Leave it to your experience and skill set to make you stand out from the crowd. If you’re applying for a creative position, such as an architect or a graphics designer, it is important to save the color and your creativity for the in-person interview.
Read Job descriptions carefully – Read job descriptions closely and if you’ve 60% of the qualifications listed, only then apply. Human Resources or hiring managers while writing job descriptions include everything that they would love to have. But as job functions keep on evolving, they are looking for trainable candidates. If you possess 60% of the skills they require, they will have no qualms in teaching you the rest.
Nail the correct Keywords – This is the most useful way to beat the ATS. Resume keywords are the skills and qualifications in the original job description that must be included in a resume because the main function of ATS is to read your CV and compare its content to the relevant job description, to look for the best match. It is vital that you read the job posting closely and use the exact same language to describe your skills and experience.
Your CV must be tailored for each position you apply to. Bear in mind that using fancy and synonymous words instead of the exact words written in the job description can also lead to rejection by ATS. Therefore, use the exact same language and punctuation as in the job description. This can also include your job title as different companies have different names for similar roles, so it is alright to adjust your own job title accordingly. Also do not use the same keyword over and over again on your CV or create hidden keywords in an invisible font. Your resume will be red flagged instantly. It’s advisable to use keywords in your skills section, where you mention your competencies and abilities. You can also add qualifications summary filled with ATS keywords. Use your keywords organically so that it becomes easier for an ATS to read.
Write out all Acronyms – You should not take any chances with your acronyms. ATS systems are not good with digesting the acronyms and they won’t know the difference between the full title of a company and its acronym form. It is hard for ATS to recognize and categorize them correctly. To avoid misunderstandings, always spell out the acronym first before including the acronym.
Left alignment and conservative typeface – Using right alignment makes your resume look more formal or edgy but it won’t be able to beat the Applicant Tracking System and can also prevent the system from parsing content correctly. Therefore, use left alignment for your resume text. Any typeface that is not conservative, such as, Helvetica, Times New Roman, Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, or Calibri, or that is not a standard size, runs the same risk.
Check your spelling and grammar – This rule applies to all CVs and resume. A hiring manager can still ignore a spelling mistake but an ATS will terminate you immediately because it won’t be having any idea as to what you’re talking about. The ATS look for matching keywords and relevant headings so if your word is not spelled properly it won’t be registered as a match. Therefore, it is important to proof read several times carefully to avoid the rejection.
Follow these steps carefully to beat the Applicant Tracking system and get one step closer to your dream job. You can also follow up with the employer through LinkedIn or any other channel to show your enthusiasm