Have you ever wondered where your resume went when you submitted it to all those annoying online applications? Do they even see a human? Well, your resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV) does see human eyes, sometimes. It just has to get passed the Application Tracking System (ATS) first and sometimes it doesn’t always make it through this system. For the purpose of simplicity, we will use the word resume for the rest of this guide. But, remember, a resume and a CV are two different document types.
The ATS is really there to make the job of the employer and recruiters easier when it comes to narrowing down applications to the most relevant applicants. This prevents them from manually going through thousands of applications that may not even be close to the type of candidate for which they are currently searching. However, it is a pain for the applicants, including the most qualified ones.
You can gain an advantage over your competition if you know how to handle the ATS. Applications get removed from the system when it cannot read the resume. Applications also get removed when the resume does not have the right keywords. Just knowing that you are already ahead of the majority.
Okay, so now that you know what the ATS does and why it’s important, you are probably wondering how you can use that information. Well, think no more. I have the solution!
First of all, know what the ATS cannot read so you can avoid it.
The ATS Cannot read:
- Picture/ graphics
- Odd-shaped bullet points
- Shaded areas
- Strange fonts
- Any file that is not a .docx or .pdf file
- Complex/ Creative section headings (Think “What I Do for a Living v. Work History”)
- Avoid abbreviations or have it spelled out somewhere
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t always use these things but, if you are submitting your resume online then you have to avoid these things on your resume. There will be a section later on where I will discuss the exceptions to these rules. After all, who doesn’t love a pretty resume? Also, don’t tables make a resume easier to write and look at? Yeah, but unfortunately some ATS cannot read them.
What does the ATS even look for?
If that’s what I shouldn’t put on my resume, then what can my resume have? How am I going to stand out with a bland-looking resume? Well, this is where I hope your other skills can come into play but, first here is what the ATS looks for in a resume.
The ATS Looks For:
- Keywords relevant to the job you want (compare job descriptions for commonly repeated words)
- Standard section headings (Education, Work Experience/ History, Summary of Qualifications)
- Consistent formatting
- Years of experience
- Years of experience with specific skills
- Required degrees or certifications
That all you need to know for now. Using the keywords of the job description will put your resume ahead in the ATS. Also, use the keywords from other job descriptions similar to the one you are applying for. This makes you more attractive because it gives the employer what their competitor is looking for too sometimes. A word of caution, do not just stuff your resume with keywords to get the ATS to choose your application. Sometimes the ATS can tell and your resume still has to be read by a human at the end of this process so, if your resume does not make sense, it’s still going to end up in the trash.
Anyways, I hoped you enjoyed some basic advice for your future job applications.
Thanks for reading my rant,
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