Getting By an Applicant Tracking System

If you find that your resume isn’t getting the response you have hoped for, it may be because it isn’t making it to the hiring managers. Recent studies have shown that 72% of resumes are not seen by employers at all. The reason for this is that many companies are using an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to filter resumes. An ATS searches resumes for highly specific keywords and information. If you are not hearing back from employers, it may be that your resume isn’t ATS-friendly. To ensure your resume gets into human hands, here are four tips for getting past an ATS’s electronic eyes:

Make Sure You Include ALL the Keywords in Your Resume

When you read through a job ad you are going to find a number of keywords that stand out in the text. These keywords include the job title, criteria for success in the position and the skills that someone looking for the position would be likely to search on. You want to include all of these keywords in the text of your resume so that it can be located by the ATS. It is important to note that all keywords need to be in in context (modern Applicant Track Systems search for keywords in context), meaning that you use full, well thought out sentences. If you used a required skill in multiple positions, list in multiple times for each position rather than putting a list of keywords at the bottom. This will also help your resume stand out when it is looked at by a hiring manager once it passes the system.

Avoid Graphs, Tables and Overly Fancy Designs

Applicant Tracking Systems can be confused by charts, graphs and tables. Because of this, the ATS may read them as stray words or symbols when trying to decipher them. Stick with “standard” resume designs with simple formatting to ensure it is machine readable.

Stick To Fonts that Are Normal for Resumes

A brand new font that is all the rage may sound like something you want to use on your resume until you find that an ATS may not be able to read and recognize it. When it comes to fonts in your resume, stick with traditional options like Arial, Georgia, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Trebuchet and Verdana. In addition, since larger fonts may confuse an ATS, make sure that you keep them to 10 or 12 point throughout.

Don’t Get Cute with Bullet Points or Abbreviations

When you are dealing with bullet points you want to avoid special characters or accents for bullets. The Applicant Training System may have problems reading a special character or accent and not take into account what the bullet point actually says. Don’t get too cute with abbreviations either. Don’t abbreviate words to save space, stick with the full word. When you do need to abbreviate, use the both the spelled out version of a word as well as the abbreviation. For example: Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

For more information on how to navigate an Applicant Tracking System, see page 15 of the AppleOne Navigating the Hiring Process book.

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