Getting Past ATS

Manufacturing jobs aren’t the only things being automated today. Contrary to what you may think, the majority of resumes submitted to mid to large sized corporations aren’t even glanced at by the human eye. Instead, they are scanned by resume robots more formally referred to as applicant tracking systems (ATS).

According to a Wall Street Journal article, over 90% of large companies streamline the recruitment process by using ATS’. ATS’ works by scanning every resume for keywords and phrases in order to rank them based on relevancy. The more keyword matches your resume has, the higher ranked you’ll be – though, it is important to note that not every keyword is valued the same. The resumes ranked highly by the ATS’ are the ones that qualify to be reviewed by a hiring manager or recruiter while the rest are simply disregarded.

Though ATS’ do help companies in many other ways, optimizing your resume to include as many keywords as possible is really the name of the game that job applicants should be concerned. As a former recruiter with over 20+ years of experience using ATS, here are the top secrets you need to know to beat the bots.

Make your resume a word doc

Making sure the ATS can read your resume is the first step towards beating them. As of now, Word doc and pure text are the universal languages that you can safely assume to be legible to all ATS. Make sure to never include any tables or pictures in your resume as they won’t be able to read those either. Though there have been on-going efforts to accommodate other file formats such as PDF and RTF, it’s never worth taking this unnecessary risk.

Remember that even if you don’t have something like Microsoft Word, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t save your resume in a Word doc format. Free online tools such as Google Docs can easily be saved in this format.

Don’t get creative with titles

For some of us, it’s in our DNA to try and innovate in order to stand out from the crowd. After all, how else are you going to separate yourself from the other 250 job applicants that apply for a single job opening. It makes sense to try and spice things up with more eye-catching titles such as “About Me” or “What I’ve Been Working On”. However, in this unique case, innovation can actually hurt you.

Staying true to their nature, ATS’ require robotic levels of conformity. They can’t recognize any title or heading unless it’s specifically programmed into their database. Therefore, it is best in this case to stick with the most generic and popular titles such as “Work Experience,” “Professional Summary,” and “Work History.”

Use online keyword tools

Using tools such as Jobscan can be a great way to see how well your resume matches a particular job description. Simply paste both your resume and job description into the fields provided and hit “Scan.” The tool will be able to provide you a match rate based on how well your resume fits the job description. On top of that, it also provides other useful information such as how well you’ve managed to quantify your specific achievements and the academic degree level required from the job description.

Copy the job description

Chances are the skills and phrases used in the job description will be the exact keywords searched for by the ATS’. There’s no better way to cover all the necessary bases than to actually read the job description and copy the relevant terms onto your own resume. For instance, if the job description says that they prefer someone with “online marketing skills” make sure that this exact phrase is someone on your resume.

A great way to make your resume readily customizable to make these exact changes is to include a skills section on your resume. That way you can simply change out the skills in accordance to what is asked for in the job description. Now that’s how you beat the system!

Get your resume professionally written

When it comes to something as important as your resume – the one thing that can make or break your chances of getting a job, you may want to consider letting a professional write it. Resume writing services that optimizes for ATS’ can be a great, though more expensive way to make sure your resume passed those pesky bots.