Are you ready to get your resume seen and beat the applicant tracking system? Job hunting in the 21st century is a great deal more complicated than it once was. While we love the speed, convenience, and efficiency of submitting jobs online, it also presents a whole new challenge for job seekers trying to get their resume before the eyes of a human being.
The reason for this is the dreaded resume keyword scanner. Learn all about these systems, including what they are, how they work, and how to beat an applicant tracking system to land the job of your dreams.
What Is an Applicant Tracking System?
Applicant tracking systems are, quite simply, artificial intelligence systems that act as gatekeepers for hiring managers. Anytime you upload your resume or application online, it’s likely you’re adding it to an applicant database.
This gatekeeping AI scans your resume for specific keywords and, if it finds them, forwards the document to the hiring manager. Basically, it’s a technological Big Brother looking over your shoulder while you’re trying to apply for a job, only it doesn’t tell you what it’s looking for.
How Does an ATS Work?
The ATS is programmed for each specific job to look for keywords in all the resumes and applications uploaded. They use an algorithm to find these keywords, and they can be very exacting in their search. That is, the majority of these systems don’t search for variations. Unfortunately, there’s only rarely a clue as to which keywords they’re looking for.
Even trickier, a resume keyword scanner is set to look for an ideal number of instances of these keywords. Too few or too many and it may not forward your resume on. So, how can you get create an ats friendly resume and past these frustrating gatekeepers? Let’s look at a few basic strategies.
How to craft an ats compliant resume to beat the applicant tracking system:
1. Carefully Read the Job Description
First, read the job description. Go over it as carefully as you can, and then do it again. Make note of terms that appear more than once in the description. Look for themes. The more you understand the specific requirements, qualifications and duties of the job, the better able you’ll be to work out appropriate potential keywords to customize your application.
2. Stick to Straightforward
When you format your resume, keep it simple. Since you’re dealing with an AI scanner, there’s no need to be creative with your formatting. In fact, this can be a deterrent, as it can interfere with the ATS system. The last thing you want to do is confuse the AI and hurt your chances. For that reason, put readability and clarity before all else.
3. Focus on the Important Parts
Likewise, don’t bother with things like professional and personal achievements or lists of publications unless they are professional and are directly related to the job in question. The key to beating a resume scanner isn’t to present yourself as super well-rounded, but to capture its attention, and you do that with qualifications, skills, education and experience.
4. Avoid Using a PDF – ATS resume format
For a long time, people switched to PDF documents because they preserve formatting. The truth is, if you’re using a clear and common font like Arial or Times New Roman and you’re sticking to a basic, straightforward presentation, there’s no need to preserve formatting.
In addition, a PDF requires the system to use optical character recognition instead of simply extracting text, and this creates errors. Stick to a Word document, rich text format or another common word processor format for your resume. It will play better with the ATS system.
Getting past the resume keyword scanner means picking the right keywords and interspersing them properly through your document. Use specific terminology from the actual job description in your application. Use proper abbreviations, acronyms and fully spelled-out versions of titles and certifications. Look for online tools that help to search for keywords in job descriptions.
Overall Conclusion to Beat an Applicant Tracking System
Remember, you’ll need to customize your resume for each specific job. The days of a cookie-cutter resume are over. Taking the time to choose the right keywords and modify your application for each individual job is your best chance to beat an applicant tracking system. Keep it simple and straightforward, choose your keywords carefully and avoid PDFs, and you’ll be off to a great start!