Applicant tracking systems have become quite popular over the past decade; and for good reason. Many businesses that advertise an open position end up with hundreds of applications. Having that many people interested in working for your company is exciting and wonderful! The overall process of filtering through those applications and resumes, however, is not. It’s impossible to assume that a couple of people can deal with the process of filtering through all those candidates on their own.
That’s why applicant tracking systems were created. With this type of system, a company can filter through these hundreds, possibly thousands, of applicants to find the “crème de la crème”, so to speak. ATS (applicant tracking system) was brought about to aid these overwhelmed and stressed hiring managers so that the process of finding appropriately qualified candidates for the job is a bit easier. Interviews can now be conducted without wasting time and money on lesser qualified individuals.
While applicant tracking systems are great for hiring managers, candidates might wonder: Where does ATS leave the applicants? Does the system work well to filter the right candidates on to the next level of the hiring process? Could a qualified resume get lost in the system? These are all great questions that have one simple answer.
The only way to make sure your resume is filtered properly through an ATS is to ensure that it is written for an ATS system. How do we do that? Resume optimization. Before learning to optimize, you must first have a better understanding of how the system works.
The first step in writing a resume for an ATS involves realizing that the system is quite simple and straightforward. It’s looking for information that’s relevant to the open position. The system removes all formatting from your resume and then scans it for key words and phrases that are relevant.
As the formatting and keywords and phrases are extracted, the system then looks for and filters the following information:
- Contact Information
- Work Experience
Once that is complete, the system matches keywords to the employer’s desired skill and work experience list to determine your value to their company. The resume is then “scored”. If your score is high enough, you’re called in for an interview!
Now that we know how the system works, let’s talk a bit about how to optimize your resume. Below you’ll find a few tips that will help you optimize yours so that when the time comes, you won’t fall through the cracks of ATS.
Mirror wording from the job description – You might have to customize every resume you send out, but making sure you use exact word matches for the official job description is a great way to make sure your resume makes it to the top of the list. Of course, you should only use skills and experience you actually have!
Eliminate headers and footers – The algorithm used for an ATS doesn’t like headers and footers.
Keywords – Learning the lingo of the industry you’re applying for is key. These keywords will optimize your resume in a way that will be most beneficial. Use them in your skills and work experience. Don’t overstuff, though. The system will reject a resume that’s too full of keywords.
Use acronyms – In addition to spelling words out, also use their acronyms. The system will recognize both and give you more “points”. For example: Applicant Tracking System, ATS.
When creating and formatting a resume for ATS, consider the following tips:
- When creating your resume in a word doc, name it LastNameJobTitle.txt and save as “Text Only” (.txt).
- List contact information at the top of the document. Each piece of information should be on a new line.
- Label phone number with “Phone:” and email address with “Email:”.
- Create section headings including: “Summary,” “Work Experience,” and “Education.” Do not combine any headings together.
- Add an extra space between each section.
- Use simple bullets and keyboard characters only. Refrain using from special characters.
- Use only the following fonts: Tahoma, Verdana, Georgia or Arial.
- When complete, re-save the file as a .doc.
We hope these tips help you create a resume that’s perfectly optimized for ATS! Following the formatting and adding keywords will help make your resume one that scores well and impresses hiring managers!
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