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My ATS May Not Like Your Resume

Posted by Chrissa Dockendorf

my ats doesn't like your resumeMy ATS may not like your resume. Here’s why.

You might be wondering, where does my resume go when I apply to a job? Often it probably feels like it goes into a black hole and a human never even looks at it. Sometimes that is true. But most of the time once you apply to a job it goes into an Applicant Tracking System or ATS.

Not all ATSs are created equal

ATSs come in all different shapes, sizes and capabilities and are often chosen based on the need of the company they support. Some can reject out candidates based on their resumes before a human sees it, some can handle graphics, some can handle headers and footers, some like keywords in a certain format, the list goes on and on.

What does that mean for you as a job seeker?  It means you need to be strategic when submitting your resume via an ATS.

Aren’t I already doing enough

Yes, I know finding a job sometimes feels like a full-time job. It can be tempting to throw your resume against a job opening and hope for the best but if you want to increase your chances of getting through the system so a human can at least look at your resume, you will need to make time to make sure you are taking the right steps.

Some applications require you to fill out answers to questions before you can send in your resume. To be honest, I hate that and I will often walk away from an application if it requires too much work. It’s the same way I picked where to apply to college (much to my parents chagrin). Want me to write a 2000 word essay on why I love the color blue? Next! Thankfully Arizona State (Go Sun Devils!) had an easy application. Otherwise who knows where I would have ended up.

If the job is worth it to you though, then you should take the time to answer the questions thoroughly as they are being used to screen you out. If you aren’t thorough and don’t use the right terminology, the bot will cut you faster than that lady from The Weakest Link (goodbye!).

Make sure that resume is ATS friendly

Because an ATS is a software tool, it doesn’t have the ability to weed through fluff. No fancy fonts, no crazy formats, no headers or footers, no graphics, no weird layouts. Keep it simple and readable. Don’t get fancy with your headings, Work Experience, Education, Certifications- all standard. Using something like “Awesome stuff I’ve done” or “School of Hard Knocks” while fun is not going to translate well through most ATSs. Also, consider uploading it as a Word file, as not all ATSs have the ability to read a PDF.

Keyword, but not too much

It probably isn’t a secret anymore but for the most part Recruiters are using keywords to find your resume. The job requires specific tools or skill sets and that is what most Recruiters are using when they seek candidates. ATSs work much the same way, so you need to be sure that you are using the appropriate keywords for the position.

Review the job description and compare it to your resume. Do you have the correct keywords? If not, go through and add those keywords, but only where it makes sense to do so. And don’t make it up. If you really don’t have that skill set don’t throw it on your resume, because if they ask about it in an interview you’re going to have that deer in the headlights look.

Don’t forget to be human

While the whole process must seem really cold and it probably feels like Recruiters don’t do anything since the ATS is just rejecting people all day, I promise you a human will see your resume at some point so be sure to keep that part of you in your resume. Your accomplishments, work you are proud of, milestones you have met, changes you have made. These are all still important to Recruiters and Hiring Managers.

Where have all the people gone

We live in a technological age and we do end up losing some of that human touch as we rely on machines to do work for us, even in our everyday lives. The bottom line is most industries use technology to help streamline processes and maintain productivity. We live in an instant gratification society. Waiting is really hard for most people, including Hiring Managers.

Large companies receive 100s of applications a day. It’s too much for a person to go through each resume one at a time to determine fit, then call each of these resumes to screen for fit, and then schedule them for interviews with a team, and still fill a position in 60-90 days. Smaller companies often have fewer applications to weed through, and you can often get more of a human touch. But many smaller companies use ATS to screen applicants as well.

I’m not saying it is perfect, but for now it is what it is. There are a lot of awesome people in recruiting working to make things better. For now, you need to own your process.

Take the time to make sure your resume is straight forward, has no extra fluff, meets the requirements, and has the keywords needed. But don’t forget to put a little of you in there too.

Chrissa DockendorfChrissa Dockendorf is a recruiting resource manager and employment branding specialist for G2, Inc., supporter of transitioning military, a coffee addict and BoyMom to 4. Follow Chrissa on Twitter @MissionHired.

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 02, 2017 10:02 am

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